Sporting roommates – Sky Sports pundits reveal all

"Keysey, you can get out, get out now, I'll save you!". He thought that the ceiling was collapsing and that he was going to save my life, which I suppose is a nice thing.

Gary Neville and David Beckham used to room together during their time at Manchester United 1:45
Gary Neville, Graeme Souness, and Rob Key share stories from their career whilst on the road.

The nationwide lockdown has meant we're all having to spend a lot more time with the people we live with - professional athletes often live together with their team mates in close quarters, so how do they cope?

We know that players train, compete and often socialise with one another but what happens when they have to be roommates as well? What's the first thing David Beckham does when he gets into the room? Which Ashes hero is afraid of the dark? And who kept Will Greenwood up until 3am before matchday? Our Sky Sports pundits reveal all.

Football

Gary Neville

I roomed with David Beckham for about six months and then the whole rooming with players completely stopped because everybody went into their own individual rooms. I think they worked out that players weren't compatible with each other and that each went to bed at different times.

Neville: "I'm always talking, always arguing and he (Beckham) was the complete opposite of that."
Image: Neville: "I'm always talking, always arguing and he (Beckham) was the complete opposite of that."

I had two big problems with Becks (well, he had with me!). I used to go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 5am, he would stay up until 11pm and want to wake up at 8am, so essentially he was keeping me up from 9 until 11 and then I was getting him up at 5 in the morning, so it just wasn't working at all.

Secondly, he is the cleanest person. He gets into his room, he lights candles, he puts pictures up - everything has to be absolutely perfect, it's been the same since he was 18.

I just throw everything everywhere, so it just did not work at all. I'm always talking, always arguing and he was the complete opposite of that. He would listen to music, he would want peace, he would want to be chilled and it's just the complete opposite end of the spectrum of where I was at.

Graeme Souness

When asked by Sky Sports' Kelly Cates who his favourite roommate was…

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Your father (Sir Kenny Dalglish). We must have roomed together for the best part of 10 years given the time at Liverpool and the Scottish games.

Souness: "We must have roomed together for the best part of 10 years given the time at Liverpool and the Scottish games."
Image: Souness: "We must have roomed together for the best part of 10 years given the time at Liverpool and the Scottish games."

We came to a very simple arrangement early on because he had a strong Glasgow accent when he came down. If anyone came to the door he had to get out of bed and answer it and if anything had to be done on the telephone I had to order, whether it was room service or anything else on the phone.

On a Friday night before a game he would take a sleeping pill and within 10 minutes he was talking a language which I've yet to discover what it was! He talked absolute nonsense for a good ten minutes. Then it was like someone turning a light off, he just went out and that was him until 9 o'clock the following day! So he would be my choice, and I'm sure I'd be his choice!

Cricket

Rob Key

There are a lot of people I've roomed with over my career of 20-odd years but I'd say two of the worst were Graeme Swann and Freddie Flintoff.

Anyone who knows Swanny knows he never stops talking. He spends his entire time just rabbitting on and he's very good at impressions, so while you were rooming with him at night he would be having conversations with himself.

One night though, he used to have quite vivid dreams, he was standing on the bed trying to reach the ceiling of the hotel room. He thinks it's caving in on him and all he's shouting is "Keysey, you can get out, get out now, I'll save you!". He thought that the ceiling was collapsing and that he was going to save my life, which I suppose is a nice thing.

With Flintoff, we weren't actually rooming together but I was rooming with Vikram Solanki. Mal Loye had been telling us ghost stories and Freddie and myself are both scared of the dark so he wanted to come into my room because his roommate was out on the lash.

So we both worked on the theory that we would have protection from the ghosts because Vikram Solanki was incredibly religious and that gave him some sort of power. As we came in, we had two double beds, and Freddie jumped into my bed, completely naked I think, and just went to sleep! So I am one of the few that has slept with Flintoff!

Rugby Union

Will Greenwood

It was the British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia in 2001. My roommate was Irish centre Rob Henderson - a Corinthian to his core.

Will Greenwood: "My roommate was Irish centre Rob Henderson - a Corinthian to his core. "
Image: Will Greenwood: "My roommate was Irish centre Rob Henderson - a Corinthian to his core. "

Tours were to be enjoyed and blooming heck he took that job seriously! I was regularly awoken at one in the morning with the room lights going on and room service at the door. Usually it was a pizza ordered for two, Rob would take care of mine as well!

A pack of cards were pulled out for a game of Cribbage and, before you knew it, it was 3am in the morning. Four hours later, bright and early, a tap on the shoulder from Rob - breakfast time, a cup of coffee down his neck and he was ready to take on the Australians!

Rugby League

Brian Carney

My favourite roommate was the late great Terry Newton. We roomed together for Great Britain and Ireland and I loved it. From the minute his eyes opened in the morning he was a whirlwind of mischief, misbehaviour and memorable moments.

Carney: From the minute his eyes opened in the morning he (Newton) was a whirlwind of mischief, misbehaviour and memorable moments.
Image: Carney: From the minute his eyes opened in the morning he (Newton) was a whirlwind of mischief, misbehaviour and memorable moments.

Terry's day in camp began early whether you liked it or not, up at 6am to his phone alarm. I protested once. He set the alarm for 5.30am the following day and I rose from then on at Terry Time.

His playful and scheming mind never rested. At 7.30pm his favourite soap was put on the TV. When the closing credits rolled 30 minutes later he turned off the lights and instructed me to go to sleep. Terry had a persuasive nature about him and I obliged! It's not often you'll come across international rugby league players with the sleeping habits of a 4-year-old.

Phil Clarke

It was the 1992 Great Britain tour of Australia. I had never been in a casino but our hotel in Townsville had one on the ground floor.

Phil Clarke talks fondly of his time rooming with former Wigan team mate Denis Betts
Image: Phil Clarke talks fondly of his time rooming with former Wigan team mate Denis Betts

We received our weekly allowance at lunch on a Monday after training and Denis Betts and I decided we would go down and try our luck at roulette. We had heard stories that some of the other players had instantly doubled their money and bought themselves new clothes and presents to take home. It sounded easy…

Within about 15 minutes we had lost it all, with the exception of one chip worth $50. As we stood in disbelief at the prospect of surviving the week with about £25 between us, Joe Lydon, a man so often able to pull off a big play when it was needed on the pitch, walked past. He looked at us as if we were foolish amateurs, pulled the chip from my hand, threw it onto 16 red and walked off.

Denis and I stood like statues as the revolutions of the wheel slowed. When it finally came to a stop, the white ball was sitting on top of 16 red! We went from the prospect of solitary confinement with no room service to figuring out how to spend $1750!

It is 28 years ago and I can still picture the scene perfectly. It was one of the best moments and lessons of my life. We took the money and walked away from the table, never to return. Thanks Joe.

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