LONDON, March 19 – Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini said in a Saturday television interview that he is “not a dirty player”, after being branded a “thug” by former referee Howard Webb.
“OK, I am physical, I like to win my challenge, but I am not a dirty player,” Fellaini told the BBC’s Football Focus programme.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, made the “thug” comment after Fellaini caught a couple of players with flailing elbows during United’s Europa League elimination by Liverpool on Thursday.
He was booked for elbowing Dejan Lovren, having escaped punishment for an apparent elbow on Emre Can during United’s 2-0 defeat in last week’s first leg.
But while Fellaini, 28, accepts that he is an “aggressive” player, the Belgium international says that there is no malicious intent behind his on-pitch conduct.
“I don’t want to elbow someone. I just defend myself,” he added.
“I like to win my challenge when I play a game. In England there are a lot of physical challenges so if you want to win the game, you have to be aggressive and win your challenge.
“I never want to injure a player or to be bad. I am not like that. I just defend myself.”