Chelsea defender and England international Gary Cahill has revealed that Belgium star Dries Mertens issued a personal apology to him in March, six years after shattering his dream of playing at Euro 2012.
The two players might line up against each other when England face Belgium in their final Group G game of Russia 2018 to decide who tops the group on Thursday. It will be the first time they’ll be facing each other since the two countries met in a friendly on the eve of Euro 2012 where Cahill sustained a fractured jaw which ruled him out of the competition.
Mertens had pushed the England international into keeper Joe Hart which resulted in the injury. Mertens apologized on Twitter but they never net each other to have a chance to discuss the incident until they found themselves eating at the same restaurant in Dubai while on holiday three months ago.
Cahill said: “It’s a nice story. He came over when I was in a restaurant and apologised for that situation.
“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.”
When Cahill was asked if he held any grudges against the Belgian for the injury, he replied: “It had big consequences for me after the game. I was going to be on the plane and it was a huge time for me. I felt I would have started that tournament with the age I was at and the form I was in.
“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.
“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.”