Pictures of cars sent from pockets, thumbs up after painful defeats, and taunting your club’s rivals only to be beaten by them on the pitch weeks later - social media is a dangerous and difficult game you do not want to lose.
Manchester City’s Phil Foden now-deleted post challenging Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was just the latest example of a footballer getting it wrong online.
Foden’s tweet had been published by a third-party PR company, without the knowledge of the Manchester City star, resulting in red faces on the blue side of Manchester.
But it is far from the first social media blunder we’ve seen throughout the years – and it’s not just players who have to be careful, either, after Tottenham Hotspur were ridiculed by a new sponsor on Thursday.
Here are some of the most infamous social media own-goals in Premier League history.
Lescott’s ‘accidental’ car tweet
Of all the posts defender Joleon Lescott could have made after his Aston Villa side were thrashed 6-0 by Liverpool, tweeting a picture of an expensive Mercedes Benz car was far from ideal.
The defeat was the club’s biggest at Villa Park for 81 years, and left the club sliding further towards a painful relegation from the Premier League.
Lescott and his team-mates were booed off the pitch by the Villa fans, who were then left aghast to see the former England international’s cryptic post hours later.
But there was an explanation.
In a statement, Lescott apologised for his side’s performance, before adding: “The tweet sent out from my account involving a picture of a car was totally accidental, it happened whilst driving and my phone was in my pocket.”
Cue more ridicule for Lescott, who later said the incident cost him his “dream” of playing for Villa. The tweet is still online, as Lescott says “he knows the truth” about the incident and maintains it was an honest mistake.
Hart’s ‘job done’ after embarrassing defeat
While Tottenham Hotspur were still reeling after their shock elimination to Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League last month, Joe Hart’s Instagram account was portraying a different mood.
Shortly after the 3-0 defeat to Dinamo, Hart’s account posted “Job done” alongside a Spurs graphic on his Instagram story. It was later removed and the goalkeeper apologised for the error, made by a member of one of his social media team, the following morning.
“Someone thought that we had won 3-0 last night. As sloppy as it sounds, it is the truth. Posting ‘job done’ - that’s unacceptable,” Hart said.
“I’m sure that’s annoyed a lot of people and I’m sorry it’s come to that. It’s obviously not come from me, I’ve got nothing but love for the club and support for the team and I’m just as down as the boys are.
“Apologies, unfortunately this happens but just know that it didn’t come from any other place than a typo.”
Anichebe’s ‘Can you tweet something like...’
Following on from Hart’s gaffe, it’s been an open secret that most Premier League footballers don’t run their own social platforms for years, but in 2016 Victor Anichebe gave us an early glimpse behind the green curtain with a post that revealed just how the post-match social media system operates.
Following a 1-0 defeat to West Ham, Anichebe, who was at Sunderland at the time, was left red-faced when his account posted: “Can you tweet something like…Unbelievable support yesterday and great effort by the lads! Hard result to take! But we go again!”
Clearly, the first part of that message was not intended to be seen by the public, with the striker falling foul to some erroneous copy and pasting.
Either Anichebe had been instructed by Sunderland to post the message, or a member of his social media team had received the message from Anichebe, but the incident highlighted that players’ activity on social media was not always genuine.
Balotelli’s ‘Man utd...LOL’
Mario Balotelli had barely been at Liverpool for four weeks when he caused a huge stir by taunting the club’s fierce rivals Manchester United with a post of Twitter.
United had just been beaten 5-3 by Leicester City, and Balotelli had clearly enjoyed the match as the former Manchester City striker tweeted “Man utd... LOL”.
The timing of the tweet was strange, however, as Liverpool had been beaten 3-1 by West Ham the previous day.
And it was United who had the last laugh that season as they did the double over Liverpool to beat Brendan Rodgers’ side to fourth place.
Babel’s Webb tweet
In what proved to be a watershed moment in the age of football and its relationship with social media, Liverpool forward Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 and warned about his future conduct after posting a mocked-up image of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after a controversial FA Cup defeat in January 2011.
Liverpool conceded an early penalty and had Steven Gerrard sent off by Webb in the 1-0 defeat to United at Old Trafford, which prompted Babel to post the picture alongside the message: “And they call him one of the best referees? That’s a joke. SMH.”
Babel became the first player to be charged by the FA for committing an “indiscretion” on social media, and later issued an apology.
For football clubs, the incident highlighted the potential danger of letting players post whatever they wanted online, and led to clubs tightening up their approach by issuing social media training and guidance to their players.
Silva’s Mendy post
But almost nine years later, footballers were still landing themselves in trouble with their posts online.
In November 2019, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was given a one-match ban by the FA for a controversial tweet that compared team-mate Benjamin Mendy to a cartoon character.
The City midfielder had posted an image of Mendy as a child alongside the character on a packet of Conguitos chocolates, which was condemned as “discriminatory” by Kick It Out and other anti-racism groups.
Silva said he had not intended the post to be racist and was posted in good faith, but it did not stop him receiving the suspension for breaking the FA’s misconduct rules.
Nasri’s ‘Drip Doctors’ scandal
In February 2018, former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri received a six-month ban from Uefa for breaking their Anti-Doping Regulations during the 2016/17 season.
Nasri had received treatment from the Los Angeles-based therapy clinic Drip Doctors which was against World Anti-Doping Agency [Wada] rules.
But news of Nasri’s attendance at the clinic broke in bizarre fashion in December 2016 after his Twitter account published a series of explicit posts, which were later deleted.
Nasri claimed his account had been hacked but the messages provoked suspicion from Wada, who later launched an investigation into the former France international, leading to his suspension.