Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli address infamous Manchester derby FA Cup spat after old rivals are placed on the same Champions League final punditry team
- Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli were embroiled in a scrap in the FA Cup in 2011
- Manchester United legend Ferdinand took exception to Balotelli’s celebration
- However, over a decade later, the two old foes are pundits for BT Sport tonight
Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli once again set aside old differences after being placed on Champions League final punditry duty together, although the duo took the time to address their infamous FA Cup semi-final spat in 2011.
Former Manchester City striker Balotelli was a one-time bitter rival of Manchester United and now-retired defender Ferdinand, and both men almost came to blows at the end of City’s 1-0 victory over their neighbours at Wembley.
Ferdinand took umbrage with Balotelli appearing to gesture toward the United end of the stadium after the final whistle and furiously confronted him.
The centre back had to be restrained by several team-mates, including goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, while City boss Roberto Mancini also stepped in to call for calm.
And over a decade on, Ferdinand and Balotelli found themselves paired together in the same room as part of BT Sport’s coverage of the showdown in Istanbul.
Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli infamously feuded after Manchester City beat United in 2011
Balotelli appeared to gesture toward the United end, an act that infuriated Ferdinand (right)
Balotelli (R) and Ferdinand (second from right) were pundits for the Champions League final
But instead of reopening any historic wounds, the two opted to warmly embrace before stepping into the studio and taking to the cameras.
Asked during the show for an insight into their fracas over 12 years ago, Ferdinand explained exactly why he had stormed over to Balotelli and grabbed him.
‘Mario was celebrating after the game in front of our fans and I took offense and wasn’t happy,’ he said. ‘He was cool under pressure.’
In response, Balotelli said: ‘I was celebrating towards their fans and understand why they got angry. It happened on the pitch and finished on the pitch.’
Joleon Lescott added: ‘Mario was brilliant at winding up opposition players and fans.’
Addressing the incident previously, Ferdinand admitted he wanted to ‘kill’ Balotelli.
Several team-mates quickly stepped in to ease the tension and move away an irate Ferdinand
Ferdinand exchanged words with City manager Roberto Mancini before leaving the pitch
Speaking on his FIVE YouTube channel with City great Vincent Kompany, he said: ‘That semi-final, that was the moment when I thought “OK they are here to stay”.
‘That was when Balotelli, remember what happened after the game? I wanted to kill him that day.
‘I get on with him but at that moment in time… he was celebrating and giving gestures to our fans.’
Balotelli played for both City and Inter Milan during his rollercoaster career, and even won the Treble under Jose Mourinho in his stint in the Italian capital.
However, 13 years on, he may watch City achieve the same feat with victory over Inter, which would see them match the heroics from United’s side in 1999.