FORMER Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has opened up on his frosty relationship with Craig Bellamy.
The official revealed that the former Wales striker never forgave him for handing him a second yellow card for diving when, in fact, he should have been awarded a penalty.
Asked by Sport Bible what players he didn’t like to referee, Clattenburg, who was a top-flight official from 2004 to 2017, explained Bellamy used to give him a difficult time.
The man with the whistle even joked he wished Newcastle had kept him on a “20-year-deal” so he never had to take charge of one of his matches because Clattenburg is a Geordie.
He said: “The player I didn’t get on with was Bellamy.
“He played for Manchester City. It was my fault. He abused us in the first-half. I gave him a yellow card.
“And then I ended up sending him off, and when you watch it, it was a penalty and I cautioned him for diving.
“He would not forgive us. He was right and I was wrong.
“I probably got sucked into his way, not manipulative, but he was hard work and in your face, in your ear. He was hard work.
“I spent more time with him, fighting him, than I should have. I should have just left it.”
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Clattenburg was asked if he had tried to explain to Bellamy that he made a mistake at their next meeting when he made a shocking revelation.
The referee said: “Yeah, he grabbed my b***s in the tunnel at Man City.
“It was a laugh, it was a joke, of course.”
Clattenburg also confessed he was wrong to go up to one of Bellamy’s coaches at the club and ask if “he is always like this?”
The 48-year-old, who recently quit his role as head of referees in Egypt over threats, admitted that other footballers were nicer to him.
Clattenburg claimed that Vincent Kompany once came up to him and told him not to beat himself up over a mistake he made.
The ref in the Champions League and Euros finals in 2016 also told the tale of ex-Chelsea skipper John Terry being a “gentleman” even though he once waited in the official’s office to protest a red card he received.
Clattenburg also believes Manchester United stars were under instruction to influence the referee due to a different player coming up to him to complain after every decision.