Gerard Pique: Barcelona, Real Madrid players act like little kids on WhatsApp group
Gerard Pique has revealed to The Players' Tribune how his mobile phone got him into trouble early on in his Manchester United career with an irate Roy Keane but it's now being put to good use to wind up Real Madrid's players.
The defender told various anecdotes from his time in the game and dismissed the notion that Barcelona and Real Madrid players are constantly at odds with each other.
Pique explained that Barca and Madrid's players -- many of whom represent Spain together -- are even in a WhatsApp group, where they are able to behave like "little kids."
It's a group Pique is making particularly good use of at the moment, with Barca 15 points clear of their Clasico rivals and on track to win a third league title in four years.
"Every time [Madrid] won a match last season [when they won La Liga and the Champions League], they were posting shirtless photos on Instagram from the locker room," Pique wrote.
"Remember that? They were smiling and flexing their muscles like The Rock and saying #HalaMadrid and posting little trophy emojis. This season, though, it's a different vibe. All their Instagram photos are looking very somber. 'Three points today. We must keep working harder!'"
"So I'm texting them in the WhatsApp group, 'Come on guys, why so serious?!' Then I put a little crying emoji, and a laughing emoji. I even made a special name for the group. It's called: CONGRATULATIONS."
Pique's WhatsApp antics could come back to haunt him if Barca contrive to throw the title away this season, although that may not haunt him as much as one incident with Keane during his time at Manchester United.
The defender moved to the Premier League as a teenager and one of his memories from his time at Old Trafford was a ticking off from the former Ireland international after his mobile phone went off in the dressing room.
"I'm literally sitting right next to Keane," Pique explains. "The dressing room is so small that our legs are almost touching. There's no space at all. It's dead quiet. All of a sudden, you could hear this little vibration.
"Roy's looking around the room. Oh, s---. I realise it's me. [But] he can't find where the noise is coming from. He's looking around the room like a maniac, his eyes darting everywhere. You know the famous scene with Jack Nicholson in The Shining, when he bursts through the door? That's what he looked like.
"He screams out to everybody, 'Whose phone is that?!' Silence. He asks again. Silence. He asks a third time. 'Whose. Bloody. F------. Phone. Is. That?!' Finally, I spoke up, like a little boy. Very softly, I said, 'I'm so sorry. It's mine.'
"Roy lost his mind! He went nuts in front of everybody! It was incredible. I almost s--- myself. But it was a good lesson."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.