Premier League: As Romelu Lukaku says sorry, how has it panned out for other stars?


Romelu Lukaku has issued a public apology to Chelsea fans after his bombshell interview in Italy. He is not the first Premier League star that has been forced to do so, and he won’t be the last.

The Belgium striker had an outspoken conversation in front of Sky Sports Italia cameras in December, which was aired in Italy last Thursday.

During the conversation he told of how ‘unhappy’ he was at Chelsea, while also hinting of his desire to return to Inter Milan, and how he never wanted to leave the club in the first place. 

Romelu Lukaku delivered an apology to Chelsea fans on Tuesday for his outpsoken interview

That has now resulted in the Blues’ No 9 taking to the club’s website to sit down in front of a different camera and deliver an apology, to the fans for the upset he has caused.

In truth, he is far from the first individual forced to seek forgiveness from supporters. 

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the most prominent Premier League examples of when players have been forced to utter the ‘s’ word… 

Wayne Rooney

It wasn’t the best look when, in 2010, Wayne Rooney handed in a transfer request at Manchester United amid links to rivals and neighbours Manchester City.

The effective man-management of Sir Alex Ferguson swiftly put an end to the saga, but it was clear that bridges had been burned and were in desperate need of repair.

Ferguson said in October that the United striker would come out and publicly apologise. He did, albeit over a month later.

‘I feel like I have apologised to the fans, but everyone keeps saying that I haven’t and, if that is the case, then I apologise for my side of things,’ said Rooney in the most unapologetic of apologies. 

Rooney soon made amends on the pitch though, and his little dalliance with the other side of Manchester has largely been forgotten. What helped with that was the title celebrations at the end of that season. And another in Sir Alex’s last season in charge in 2013.  

Wayne Rooney went on to lift the title twice more with Manchester United after his apology

Wayne Rooney went on to lift the title twice more with Manchester United after his apology

Steven Gerrard

Emotions get the better of everyone. Even the cool, calm and collected Steven Gerrard.

Miffed at being left on the bench for Liverpool’s crucial clash with arch-rivals Manchester United, the captain was eager to make up for lost time after being introduced as a half-time sub. Too eager as it turned out.

Stamping on Ander Herrera just 38 seconds into the half, Gerrard was swiftly shown a straight red card, sending Brendan Rodgers’ side down to 10 men and handing United the initiative. 

After watching the rest of a 2-1 defeat from the confinements of the dressing room, Gerrard went public with his apology afterwards. 

‘I’ve let down my team-mates and the supporters. I take full responsibility. I need to accept it, the decision was right,’ he said.

‘I’ve been in the game long enough. When you do something like that, I don’t know what caused it, probably just a reaction to the initial tackle.’

It had already been announced that Gerrard would be leaving the Reds at the end of that season. It was not exactly how he envisaged his last appearance against his old foes would play out.  

Steven Gerrard apologised to Liverpool supporters after being sent off against Man United

Steven Gerrard apologised to Liverpool supporters after being sent off against Man United

Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer 

One of the most spectacular on-field bust ups in Premier League history had to end with some form of apology.

Newcastle United team-mates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer came to blows in the late stages of their sides 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa at St James’ Park in 2005.

Both were dragged in front of the post-match cameras by boss Graeme Souness, a surreal scene in which the clearly fuming Scotsman was brought a cup of tea to calm him down. 

After both had said their apologies, Souness delivered his own opinion on the sorry episode, suggesting Bowyer was the instigator.

Everyone agreed. Bowyer was fined £30,000 by the FA and six weeks’ wages by the club. He was also charged by Northumbria police, pleading guilty to a charge of using threatening behaviour for which he was fined a further £600.  

Newcastle held an extraordinary press conference with Kieron Dyer (L) and Lee Bowyer (R)

Newcastle held an extraordinary press conference with Kieron Dyer (L) and Lee Bowyer (R)

Bruno Fernandes  

This was a new one this season. An apology when nobody really asked for it.

Yes, Manchester United fans would probably have liked to have seen Bruno Fernandes’s penalty hit the back of the net in the dying moments of their defeat by Aston Villa at Old Trafford, and yes it was a woeful attempt as he sent it high over the bar. 

But there was something of a bemused reaction when the Portuguese took to social media to deliver a lengthy explanation, asking for forgiveness for his spot-kick calamity.

In truth, there was no need for him to apologise, and the likes of Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville let him know as much.  

Bruno Fernandes took to social media to apologise after his penalty miss against Aston Villa

Bruno Fernandes took to social media to apologise after his penalty miss against Aston Villa

Granit Xhaka 

Granit Xhaka probably didn’t feel like apologising after this one, but for the sake of his Arsenal career, it was probably best he did.

As Arsenal’s form stuttered, as it so often has in the past decade or more, Xhaka, the Arsenal captain at the time in 2019, was the target of much of the supporter anger as Unai Emery lost a grip on things. 

For too long, fans had watched Granit Xhaka do Granit Xhaka things and that came to a head during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Having watched the Gunners throw away a two-goal lead, supporters were incensed as their captain trudged off after his number was shown on the fourth official’s board. 

A crescendo of boos rose around the Emirates, leading to Xhaka gesticulating at the crowd and appearing to mouth ‘f*** off’, too.

Emery said his skipper’s reaction was wrong, and subsequently stripped him of his position. Xhaka, realised likewise and eventually apologised. 

Granit Xhaka storms off the pitch after being jeered by his own fans against Crystal Palace

Granit Xhaka storms off the pitch after being jeered by his own fans against Crystal Palace

Jack Grealish 

Not an on-pitch incident but an apology was necessary nonetheless. 

While the whole of the UK came to terms with lockdown in 2020, there was a spate of incidents where the Premier League’s stars seemed to think they were above the rules. 

Among the culprits was Jack Grealish, who after one gathering, was caught out after crashing his white Range Rover while trying to leave a party at an estate in Solihull.

An apology to a nation, rather than just a football club, required something a bit more than a written statement, and so Grealish fronted up on his social media to deliver a sincere apology.

He has since been welcomed back into the hearts of England fans for his performances at last summer’s Euros. Aston Villa fans less so after seeing one of their own make the mega-money switch to Manchester City.  

Jack Grealish apologised to a nation, rather than just a football club after breaching rules

Jack Grealish apologised to a nation, rather than just a football club after breaching rules

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