Rio Ferdinand recalls Eyal Berkovic’s infamous face kick from John Hartson on West Ham training ground

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‘The sound was incredible, he was screaming’: Rio Ferdinand recalls John Hartson infamously shooting Eyal Berkovic in the face during practice … as Joe Cole recalls there were fighting ‘every week’ in West Ham in the wake of the Chelsea bust-up.

  • John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic collided in 1998 on the training ground of West Ham
  • The former striker’s bad tackle in a training match saw the Israeli hit him
  • Hartson retaliated by turning and kicking the former playmaker in the face
  • Rio Ferdinand has revealed that players wanted to stop the game before it took place

Rio Ferdinand has lifted the lid on the ‘incredible’ West Ham training ground incident between John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic, with the former kicking the latter in the face.

The duo clashed in September 1998 when a bad tackle from the former striker in a training match threw the Israeli a punch at his Welsh team-mate.

In retaliation, Hartson turned and kicked the former playmaker right in the face when the situation got out of hand.

Rio Ferdinand has lifted lid on 'incredible' West Ham training ground incident between John Hartson (right) and Eyal Berkovic (left)

Rio Ferdinand has lifted lid on ‘incredible’ West Ham training ground incident between John Hartson (right) and Eyal Berkovic (left)

The duo collided in September 1998 after a bad tackle from Hartson and a punch from Berkovic

The duo collided in September 1998 after a bad tackle from Hartson and a punch from Berkovic

The duo collided in September 1998 after a bad tackle from Hartson and a punch from Berkovic

Former defender Ferdinand was asked on BT Sport about the most vivid memory of a training ground he had witnessed in light of Chelsea duo Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s feud over the weekend.

And the former Hammers center-back revealed that players had wanted to stop the match on the training pitch before the duo collided, describing their scrap as a ‘heavyweight versus featherweight’ match.

“We played a game in training, it was 5-0 or something,” Ferdinand recalls. Eyal Berkovic was always on the best team and his team consistently won.

He took the ball from Johnny and ran with it, laughing. Before that, a few players had said “let’s stop the game because this could end in tears”.

In retaliation, Hartson turned and kicked the former playmaker right in the face

In retaliation, Hartson turned and kicked the former playmaker right in the face

In retaliation, Hartson turned and kicked the former playmaker right in the face

Ferdinand was asked about a lively feud he witnessed after Kepa Arrizabalaga (left) and Antonio Rudiger (right) collided over the weekend

Ferdinand was asked about a lively feud he witnessed after Kepa Arrizabalaga (left) and Antonio Rudiger (right) collided over the weekend

Ferdinand was asked about a lively feud he witnessed after Kepa Arrizabalaga (left) and Antonio Rudiger (right) collided over the weekend

Berkovic runs with the ball and laughs at John, and John chased him and just wiped his legs.

Berkovic lay down on the floor and was clearly in some pain, and Johnny went to get him and said “don’t be silly”.

Eyal said, “Get out, what are you doing?” and hit John’s leg, and John’s immediate response was to launch him absolutely. He was lucky it was his left foot and not his right.

He hit him in the face with his left shoe, the sound was incredible, he screamed.

Ferdinand revealed how a few players wanted the training game to stop before it happened

Ferdinand revealed how a few players wanted the training game to stop before it happened

Ferdinand revealed how a few players wanted the training game to stop before it happened

Dicksy [Julian Dicks] then had young girls on the training ground and one of them shouted “Daddy he’s crying”. It was unbelievable. It was a heavyweight versus a featherweight. ‘

Fellow former West Ham star Joe Cole added: ‘It’s a tough one [his most memorable scrap], there were many. It seemed to be every week at West Ham.

‘I was standing next to it on the field and I just heard the noise. But West Ham, we weren’t a mob, but a lot happened. ‘

Ferdinand (right) and Joe Cole (left) were young players at the time of the incident

Ferdinand (right) and Joe Cole (left) were young players at the time of the incident

Ferdinand (right) and Joe Cole (left) were young players at the time of the incident

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