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The Magnificent Seven: interviews from hell

Interviewing athletes ‘in the heat of the moment’ has long been a recipe for disaster. Here’s what happens when things go pear-shaped…

THIS WEEK STEVE Williams rowed back on his emotional interview last Sunday after Adam Scott’s victory.

Tiger’s former caddy said he was overly-emotional and regrets his comments about his former employer. He’s not the first:

7. John Motson asks Brian Clough too many questions

Fed up with Motson’s questions, Brian Clough decides to make things interesting. First he turns on new signing Trevor Francis, saying “he’s only got ten caps” and has “won a medal by a fluke,” as there’s “no way he would have played” if Clough had everyone fit for the European Cup final. He then attacks a flustered Motson, criticising him and his colleagues for “lecturing” the football public for “becoming too deep” and “overbearing”. If only modern-day interviews were this confrontational.

6. Eddie O’Sullivan gets asked a hard question

Following what was probably the worst moment of his career, Eddie O’Sullivan gets asked the question everything wanted to know, but no one – save this TV3 reporter, Sinead Kissane – would have been brave enough to ask given the circumstances: whether he would continue on as Ireland manager. The nation’s collective cringe once the question was asked was made worse by the look of death O’Sullivan gave his interrogator in response.

5. Hulk Hogan denies and admits taking steroids in the same interview

This week was not the first time Hulk Hogan has been making headlines for something other than his wrestling exploits. Wrestlers have never been renowned for their intelligence and Hogan certainly vindicated this stereotype when he made a u-turn midway through an interview about whether or not he had ever taken steroids. If ever there was a man in need of a spokesperson…

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4. Hedo Turkoglu says ‘ball’ in response to interviewer’s question

The type of interviewee every journalist has nightmares about, when asked what was different about the way they played in comparison with previous matches, Turkoglu simply says, “ball,” before needlessly adding: “I have nothing else to say.” Not exactly Frost/Nixon, is it?

3 Mike Tyson talks the way he wants to talk

While the interview where he says he wants to “eat Lennox Lewis’ children” is more notorious, this one is equally vitriolic. The interviewer challenges him about the “rage” he takes into the ring and Tyson seemingly can’t go more than a second or two without swearing. Perhaps wisely, the interview is then ended prematurely.

2. Eamon Dunphy witnesses “sex between two men on the BBC”

This moment was perhaps more memorable for Dunphy’s reaction rather than the actual interview, however in fairness to Dunphy, there was truth – albeit in exaggerated form – to his assessment of Garth Crook’s chinwag with Sven Goran Eriksson. England had performed dismally, and everyone knew it, except – it seemed – Eriksson and Crooks.

1. Alex Higgins gets drunk and announces his retirement from professional snooker

Alex Higgins had a reputation for being a somewhat tortured soul, and never was it more apparent than during this 1990 press conference after his first-round defeat in the World Championship against Steve James. A drunk Higgins slurs his words while launching on an astonishing attack on the world of snooker (edited out in the version below) where he attacks the corruption that he believed was endemic in the sport, and came out with a series of ridiculous statements (“Iwish Cecil Parkinson and Maggie Thatcher would do a probe into snooker, then we would find out the real truth”).

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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