Mathieu Flamini has hit back at Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, claiming that he is not a dirty player after his two-footed tackle injured Vedran Corluka when AC Milan took on Spurs in the first leg of their Champions League tie.
Flamini's reckless lunge attracted a lot of attention in the 1-0 win for Spurs, and Redknapp branded his tackle on Corluka a 'leg-breaker'. However, the Frenchman has seen fit to defend himself ahead of the second leg.
"In four years in the Premier League I've never injured an opponent. I was never sent off in England. Never,'' he said. "I am a defensive midfielder so of course I am in the 'tough' area of the pitch but this was the first time a player was injured by a challenge I made.
"I am not a dirty player. I didn't have a bad intention. Everything I do, it's always on the ball. You can see I'm going for the ball not for the man. I didn't mean to go with two feet. I shouldn't have but I didn't mean to.
"I can understand people complain about what happened. But I think it's part of the game. I apologised for what I did. Unfortunately he got injured but I went to the dressing room and apologised to Vedran personally and he accepted it.
"I'm not saying I was in the right but let's not make such a fuss. I'd never injured anybody before. It's really tough to hear that I went for the guy and I went to break his leg. Not at all."
Flamini continued his impassioned defence by drawing on his experiences of English football, having spent four years plying his trade in London with Arsenal.
"It's not right to say 'Flamini is dirty' because it's simply not true,'' he said. ''Tough player, yes, because I do everything with total commitment but not dirty. I always go for the ball. I got booked and that's it. I was punished but all the comments after I don't accept. My history speaks for me.
"I've been a professional for 10 years and I've never had any problem with my behaviour on the pitch. I'm not a violent player. I grew up with English football, it's a physical game. This was a game at the top level with high intensity and very physical too.
"I didn't have any bad intention, I went for the ball and if you look at the replay, you can see I took the ball. I know I went in with two feet but it was the speed and the force that made me lose control of the tackle.''
Flamini also claims Redknapp's comments were made to take the attention away from his side as they host Milan in the second leg.
"I've seen what was said. I have a lot of respect for Mr Redknapp,'' he added. ''But I think he's been very clever to make a big story out of that. Everyone can focus on that and forget about the second leg.
"Tottenham have only a one-goal lead and it will be a tough game in London. To be honest, I am very confident and after the way we played in the second half I believe we will go there and qualify for the next round."