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‘It was ugly’: Argentina ace claims he left Champions League side after 63yo coach ‘tried to physically attack’ him in locker room

‘It was ugly’: Argentina ace claims he left Champions League side after 63yo coach ‘tried to physically attack’ him in locker room

A footballer has revealed that he left a top Italian club because his manager wanted to fight him for disobeying tactics during a Champions League match – although his former boss has claimed the aggression came from the star.

Argentina international Papu Gomez spent more than six successful years at Serie A side Atalanta, helping the club reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2020 under the management of Gian Piero Gasperini.

Now Gomez has claimed that Gasperini, who has been honored for his heroics with the over-achievers in the city of Bergamo where they are based, violently confronted him at the interval during a game against Danish side Midtjylland.

Gomez, who once captained the team, explained that he asked president Antonio Percassi to let him leave the club when Gasperini refused to apologize to him over the incident, which would go some way towards explaining his mysterious transfer to Sevilla, of La Liga, in January. 

"I disobeyed him in a tactical indication," Gomez told La Nacion, adding that Percassi wouldn't allow him to join one of Atalanta's domestic rivals.

"There were 10 minutes left until the first half was over and he asked me to play on the right, while I was playing very well on the left. And I said no.

"Having done that in the middle of the game, with the cameras... it was perfectly [fine] that he got angry. I already knew that at half-time he was going to take me out, and so [he did].

"But at half-time in the locker room, he exceeded the limits and tried to physically attack me.

"When there is physical aggression, it is already intolerable. So I asked for a meeting with the president... and I told him that I had no problem continuing, accepting that I had been wrong: as a captain I had not behaved well, I had been a bad example disobeying the coach.

"But I told the president that I needed an apology from Gasperini."

Gomez says he was banished to the reserves while a "tug of war" began after he did not receive the apology he wanted and told Percassi that he wanted to leave.

"It was ugly because, after seven years, they left me lying there, after everything I gave the club.

"They behaved badly. The president did not have the balls to ask the coach to simply apologize to me. That was the end of everything."

Gomez insists he is telling truths that the public "deserve" following his abrupt exit from the club where he scored 50 goals in more than 200 appearances.

"From one day to the next, I disappeared," he said. "The journalists stopped asking about me in Atalanta, nor do they ask my ex-teammates. It's like I stopped existing for Atalanta.

"I think their intention was to place all the blame on me. And the truth is not that.

"People, perhaps, are angry with me because it is thought that I did not want to continue in Atalanta, or it is believed that I preferred to go to Seville for more money. None of that. It was time for the fans to know the truth."

Responding to the accusations, Gasperini has defended himself by insisting that "the physical attack came from him, not me".

"The real reason he left was because he seriously disrespected the owners of the club," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Gomez’s behavior and attitude, on and off the pitch, had become unacceptable for the coach and his teammates."

The revered coach added that he hopes Copa America winner Gomez "can continue to be talked about for his performances".

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