Search icon


27th Jun 2018

Gary Cahill reveals apology from Dries Mertens ahead of Group G clash

England meet Belgium in Kaliningrad on Thursday evening

Darragh Murphy

Dries Mertens made a point of apologising to Gary Cahill after taking him out of Euro 2012.

Mertens ruined Cahill’s chances of representing England in Poland and Ukraine by injuring the centre-half the week before the competition got underway.

Cahill suffered a fractured jaw in a friendly at Wembley when Mertens shoved him into goalkeeper Joe Hart and the injury ruled the Chelsea defender out of his first major international tournament.

On Thursday, Cahill will potentially line out opposite Mertens for the first time since their clash six years ago as England and Belgium close out Group G of the 2018 World Cup with first place still up for grabs.

But Cahill has dismissed any suggestion of bad blood by revealing how the Belgian forward approached him in a Dubai restaurant earlier this year to issue a personal apology.

“It’s a nice story. He came over when I was in a restaurant and apologised for that situation,” Cahill said, via Standard Sport.

“For me it was dead and buried but I respected him a hell of a lot for doing that. It wasn’t something he had to do. He didn’t know me and I didn’t even know he was in there.

“Did we shake hands? Yes. I just said ‘thank you, it’s finished with’. But I think that shows the guy that he is, he is a decent fella.

“He didn’t need to do it. There’s no way he meant to do that damage for me to miss the tournament. That’s football. Unfortunately for me, there were consequences. It was a great gesture.”

Cahill has yet to take to the pitch for England in Russia this summer but with manager Gareth Southgate set to ring the changes for the game against Belgium, the 32-year-old could well find himself on the teamsheet.

When asked if he held any bit of a grudge against Mertens for the push, Cahill maintained that the Napoli winger never meant to cause any damage.

“It was a huge blow and it took a while to get over during the summer. But at the same time, I like to see the good in people. I don’t think he did that for that reason,” Cahill added.

“How many times do you get frustrated, shove someone out of the way (and nothing like that happens)? It’s just one of those things.

“It was a freak situation. I hit Joe, probably one of the worst people to collide with in that situation because his shoulders are like that.

“I don’t think he (Mertens) was thinking ‘I’m going to push him and break his jaw’. I held no grudges against him, I was just really disappointed with my situation. So for him to take time out after all these years and say that, I really respect him.”