Football room-mates - Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and more reveal all
'Saint' Michael Owen, Gazza's pranks, Beckham's candles and why Dirk Kuyt was a good omen - the untold stories of football room-mates
By Jasper Taylor, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 16/05/20 5:24pm
Professional footballers live most of their lives in front of a camera. But when they're on the road, either for away games or international fixtures, they can enjoy relative privacy in their hotel rooms. There's one person who acts as a barrier to complete privacy though - the room-mate.
So what was it like to room with Michael Owen? Who nearly got Alan Smith arrested in Russia? And why was it such good news to be rooming with Dirk Kuyt?
We asked Sky Sports pundits and The Football Show guests to lift the lid…
Jamie Carragher - 'I tried to keep Owen at Liverpool'
I had Michael Owen to start with and people always said we were chalk and cheese, how did we room together? I was supposedly this little rascal and he was this Saint, if you like, Saint Michael, after the World Cup. It certainly wasn't like that in the room!
He actually took the call to go to Real Madrid in the room in pre-season. So I was the first person, before maybe even his family, who knew about the Real Madrid situation and we actually had a good chat about it. I was convinced he shouldn't go.
I wasn't just thinking of Liverpool - I was desperate for him to stay, he was a top player - but more that, at that time, Real Madrid had Raul, [Fernando] Morientes and Ronaldo. He was just convinced that he would still play. He was saying, "well when I came through at Liverpool it was Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore, that didn't bother me!" He had such self-belief.
Stevie Gerrard was after him… thankfully [there was] no Real Madrid call!
Alan Smith - 'Gazza was watching Ceefax!'
Paul Gascoigne was definitely the most unlikely choice of my favourite room-mate when we roomed with England.
While I liked to lie around all afternoon, he'd be rushing in and out, playing table tennis, snooker, cards - whatever kept him busy. Quite often, my wife would think she'd got the wrong number when ringing up, as Gazza did his best impression of a takeaway restaurant.
In the middle of the night, the noise of the TV once woke me up. He couldn't get to sleep so had started watching Ceefax.
Then there was the time in Russia when he nearly got me arrested after placing a wad of roubles [Russian currency] on top of our coach. When we pulled away, a near-riot broke out behind us as the locals scrambled for the fluttering cash.
Unfortunately, I was the first person the furious soldier saw when storming on board. Rifle on shoulder, he delivered the mother of all rollickings, as Gazza hid sniggering on the back seat.
Craig Bellamy - 'Dirk Kuyt was a good omen'
Lee Bowyer used to have a really annoying habit where he used to grind his teeth when he was asleep.
Every hotel I'd take a sleeping tablet because I'd always struggle to sleep the night before a game. So imagine the noise he was making grinding his teeth to wake you up!
I used to leave a little glass of water to the side and I said, "If you wake me up this is going over you!" So it would be about two or three in the morning, he'd be grinding his teeth away and I'd just throw the water straight over him!
Due to his appetite, John Hartson used to wake up around two to three in the morning quite hungry. So he used to leave a packet of Maltesers and a can of Coke right by his bed. Without fail, it would be like an alarm in his head would go off, the light would go on and he'd be there just eating his Maltesers and then you'd hear the can open.
I'd watch him eat and drink for about half-an-hour until he settled down, then he was back to sleep! In the end I had enough of that!
It was different with Liverpool - Rafa Benitez used to designate who we'd be with. You were never assigned to one person so you got a good reflection of the team as well. If you were rooming with Dirk Kuyt, you had a good chance of starting!
Matt Le Tissier - 'I threw fruit to test his reflexes!'
My favourite room-mate from down the years would probably have to be Barry Horne. We used to have some really good, interesting conversations.
I can remember him actually telling me in the early '90s about this bloke called Osama Bin Laden. At the time I'm just listening to him and he was obviously far more intelligent than me, he went on to become a teacher and get a degree.
So I took all this information in, didn't really think about it too much, until about 10 years later when that name became quite prominent around the world. Suddenly I thought, "hang on a minute, I've heard that name somewhere before" and 10 years earlier Barry was telling me all about it!
I also roomed with the goalkeeper John Burridge once upon a time, and did find myself quite late at night with bits of fruit in my hand throwing them across the room for him to dive on his bed to test his reflexes the night before a game.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams when I became a professional footballer that one of the perks of that job would be throwing fruit at John Burridge - brilliant!
Gary Neville - 'candles, pictures... everything perfect!'
I roomed with David Beckham for about six months and then the whole rooming with players completely stopped [at Manchester United] 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.
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.
Charlie Nicholas - 'he was so stylish'
I was sharing with Graeme Souness for Scotland. He was tremendously stylish. When he came to meet with Scotland, he had the best excess baggage.
I used to come with a little sports bag and toilet bag, he came in one day and the staff were hanging his jackets up in colour co-ordination! He was a real class act and a class guy.
He loved life to the full and you had to be of extremely high standards when you were in a room with him. He was immaculate and he had to go to the bathroom first to make sure he had his own time in there.
Graeme Souness - 'he talked absolute nonsense for a good 10 minutes'
When asked by Sky Sports' Kelly Cates who his favourite room-mate was…
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.
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 10 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!
Phil Thompson - 'the shellfish stunk!'
Terry McDermott was my regular room-mate when he arrived at Liverpool in 1974 after the FA Cup final. I played a very good part in him coming to Liverpool. We were Kirkby mates and were living there and we struck up an immediate friendship. He was quite astonishing. He was a great player but a funny lad, keeping the atmosphere in the dressing room bouncing. We had our habit on a Friday night of having our packed-up sandwiches and a pint of orange and lemonade.
I always remember one trip with Terry - he turned up with a bag of cockles! They are like shellfish and you had to have a needle to pick them out of the inside. They stunk! He had a bag of them. Ronnie Moran came in in the morning to make sure we all got up and said, "what is that?" bursting the window open as he did so! Terry was extraordinary - a great room-mate and social partner.