A Funny Old Brain – A Look At Some of Football’s More Colourful Characters
Football is full of characters, some, like Ian Holloway, are a comedic soundbite waiting to happen, others like Robin Friday and George Best lived the lives of mavericks both on and off the field.
Some players however take it to the extreme, crazy drunks, religious fanatics or paranoid conspiracy theorists, the beautiful game has them all.
The Swede is brilliantly bonkers. He has been an unqualified success at every club he’s been at, Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona and both Milan clubs. Winning every trophy along the way, as well as many personal accolades.
On top of this he refers to himself in the third person, has trademarked the name ‘Zlatan’ (Does this mean any parents naming their newborn after the Swede have to pay him royalties?!) and kicks team mates in training for a laugh.
Following a rumour that he might be gay, after a picture of him and Gerard Pique hugging in a car park was taken, he told a Spanish journalist…
“Come by my house with your sister and see if I’m gay.”
Unfortunately for the man himself, Edmundo Alves de Souza Neto won’t be remembered for his 39 caps and 10 goals for Brazil. He’ll be remembered for changing clubs more than Lee Westwood and getting a chimp intoxicated.
Back in 1999, on his sons first birthday, Edmundo hired a carnival which included an impressionable young monkey named Pedrinho. Rumours came out that Edmundo was getting little Pedrinho drunk, and pictures soon surfaced of the Brazilian giving him a beer.
Amid attempted prosecution by animal welfare groups, the former Fiorentina striker proved them to be false.
‘The Animal’ has also avoided a prison sentence despite causing a car crash that killed three of his passengers, receiving a seven day suspended sentence.
Edmundo played for an astonishing 15 clubs in his career, putting forward a case to be named ‘Best Journeyman Ever’, despite falling out with pretty much all of them, some invited him back for a second spell.
He also had a long running feud with Romario, all started by Romario scribbling cartoons of Edmundo on a toilet door.
After retiring, The Animal chanced his arm at being a policeman in 2008, before sticking to media work.
Gazza might well have had more second chances than he has had second pints. Clearly a sufferer of many demons, including alcoholism, he nonetheless provided many hilariously bonkers moments throughout his eventful career.
He caused laughs after having his balls squeezed by Vinnie Jones, wore a pair of fake plastic breasts and put on a long flowing wig for training to welcome new team mate David Ginola.
While at Rangers, he booked a ref who had dropped his yellow card. The official failed to see the funny side and in turn booked Gascoigne.
In 2004, he announced he was combining his initial and his favourite team number, and wished to be referred as G8.
One of his more mental moments caused a massive furore while at Rangers in a derby that goes beyond football, with two clubs separated by religion. After notching against Celtic, Gascoigne mimicked playing a flute, an action which has historical connotations and enraged Celtic fans. He received a £20,000 fine in what was his second worst PR stunt.
His worst PR stunt came in July 2010. Murderer and fugitive Raoul Moat was surrounded by armed police and large areas were cordoned off. The media presence rivalled a royal wedding and the nation watched on tenterhooks.
Up turns Gazza, clearly having drunk a fair few Stella’s with a survival kit Ray Mears could only dream of. A bucket of chicken, a couple of tinnies, a fishing rod, and a dressing gown, claiming he could talk one of Britain’s most dangerous men into giving himself up.
Strangely enough, the police didn’t take him up on his offer.
While there are probably other stories that haven’t been mentioned, Paul Gascoigne is a man who the public must be running out of patience with. His antics are becoming less something to laugh about and more of a tragedy.
As Gazza proved, one thing that can make you go mental is booze. Another is religion, demonstrated by former Argentina international goal keeper Carlos Roa.
Roa was his countries’ hero against England at France ’98, saving the crucial penalty that knocked England out. The following season he was rumoured to be heading to Manchester United or Arsenal but instead made a completely different move, leaving Real Mallorca for a commune, nursing small rodents back to health and generally waiting for the end of the world at the coming of the new Millennium.
Being a Seven Day Adventist, his belief of the approaching apocalypse meant he didn’t even re-negotiate his contract, he didn’t see the point. Mallorca were unlikely to have a side after the rapture.
Take a look outside, it’s pretty evident that the world didn’t end. Roa was wrong, but somehow managed to play again for Real Mallorca, but was mostly used as back up.
If you think that Roa believing the end of the world was imminent and giving up football was mental, then David Icke’s belief that the Royal Family are shape shifting lizards takes insanity to a brand new level.
Icke only managed a five year football career, four with Coventry City and one with Hereford United. Details of his career are hard to find but then again, he did have to retire at the age of 21 due to arthritis.
Since leaving the beautiful game Icke has found a new way of entertaining crowds of thousands. He has become one of the world’s most prominent voices in conspiracy theories.
He once claimed in an interview with Terry Wogan that he was the Son of God, that there is a secret government trying to start a New World Order. He believes that George Bush, Queen Elizabeth and George Lucas are shape shifting reptiles amongst others.
He states that the line in Star Wars ‘That’s no moon, it’s a space station’ is Lucas and the rest of the lizards, laughing at the general public, because our moon is in fact a space station.
Basically, all the far out, crazy conspiracy theories you have ever heard, Icke either believes or is the originator of and he sells out lecture tours spouting his bonkers beliefs to large crowds.
Of course, you don’t have to be crazy to be a footballer but it sure does help.