Around the world in 12 stories
Neymar tricks a canary, an Argentinian team pretend to be gladiators and a journo infuriates Romania’s boss with a fishing rod: it’s been a jape a minute this month
1 BANKS WOULD HAVE SAVED IT Mexico Guadalajara
The Estadio Jalisco played host to one of the greatest saves in football history – Gordon Banks’ denial of Pele during the 1970 World Cup – and now it’s also seen one of the oddest postponements.
Ravel Morrison was all set for his Atlas debut against Tigres UANL, only for the game to get called off as a big TV screen newly installed above the centre circle was hanging dangerously low.
The Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman posed for pictures pretending to hold up the screen, though he couldn’t save the day: it needed Banks to turn up and improbably tip it over the stadium roof.
2 LION, HART England Ashford
If Paul Gascoigne’s taught us anything, it’s that nothing can possibly go wrong when an England international opts to stick his fingers near a lion enclosure.
Thankfully, Joe Hart was able to feed the lions at the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent without major incident, although it was a lot less funny. If you still haven’t seen that famous Gazza clip, Youtube it now.
3 “WHICH ONE OF YOU LOT IS RUSSELL CROWE?” Argentina Junin
They’re back, and they’re weirder than ever. The Argentinian side Sacachispas dressed up as superheroes for a team photo ahead of a shock cup win earlier in the year, and with four months until the next round, they had plenty of time to prepare for their last 16 showdown at Sarmiento. But never mind the actual match, what were they going to wear?
Gladiator garb, obviously! The team emerged onto the field complete with helmets, shields and spears. God knows how they got those through security...
4 CHEERS, LADS! Germany Munich
It’s not just Sacachispas who have been posing for weird photos – even Bayern Munich have got involved.
As part of an annual sponsorship deal the full squad donned lederhosen and posed with beer in hand, Franck Ribery excepted due to religious reasons. Sadly no spears for Die Roten’s squad, though. Remember kids, beer and ancient Roman weaponry just do not mix.
5 DON’T GIVE UP THE DAY JOB, ROM Belgium Brussels
When Belgium started to create a new mascot, they had a brainwave: why not let our star striker design it?
Romelu Lukaku was soon handed an easel and pen and told to do his worst. Unfortunately, Rom took that invitation very literally, coming up with one of the worst drawings anybody has ever seen. The federation have now asked the fans to supply some ideas instead: Rom’s bid to be the next Van Gogh could be over.
6 DAUM TAKES THE BAIT Romania Bucharest
You know when you are trying to stage a press conference, but a bloke keeps waving a bloody fishing rod around in front of your face?
Christoph Daum certainly does. Having claimed a newspaper was ‘only good for wrapping fish’, said newspaper hit back by sending a scribe along to the Romania coach’s next press conference with rod in hand. The German didn’t react well, and his turbulent spell as boss came to an end days later.
He’s unlikely to spend his new-found spare time going on any fishing trips...
7 CANARY TRAP Brazil Manaus
Sometimes old ones are the best, right? Once Brazilian duo Neymar and Philippe Coutinho had finished an open training session with the Selecao, they teamed up to play a classic prank on Canarinho. Neymar knelt down behind the mascot, then Coutinho pushed him backwards, knocking the bird over in comedic style.
Kids, eh? The top clubs won’t want to pay the big bucks for them if they don’t start taking things a bit more seriously.
8 LEAVE THEM ALONE, JULIA! Italy Verona
Just what is it with Julia Roberts being pictured with football stars these days? First she was at Old Trafford chatting to Michael Carrick, and then she told Sergio Ramos “you played amazing” after he’d been sent off in El Clasico.
This time, Roberts posed with Robert Lewandowski and wife at the intriguing ‘Calzedonia Leg Show’. We look forward to her meeting up with Stoke’s attacker Eric Maxim Choupo-moting any day now.
9 “IT’S A LOT WARMER THAN THIS IN MADRID...” Wales Vale of Glamorgan
When Gareth Bale said that he needed some crying therapy after recent woes at Real Madrid, the Welsh FA must have misheard. Instead, they instructed him to strip to his pants before sticking him inside a room that quickly plummeted to minus 160 degrees.
All right, they didn’t mishear: this was the Welsh squad’s cryotherapy recovery after their victory at home to Austria. It helped them to beat Moldova days later and it also perfectly acclimatised them for the autumn internationals in Cardiff.
10 GET THE BANNER, MO’S HERE Uganda Kampala
So you want Wenger out of Arsenal, but you live 4,000 away miles from London. How do you make your voice heard? It’s obvious: you wait for Gunners midfielder Mohamed Elneny to rock up in Uganda and then ask him to pass on a message.
“Elneny please tell Wenger to resign,” one chap penned on his placard when Egypt arrived for a World Cup qualifier. Elneny no doubt agreed to the request. “So how was your break, Mo?” “Good, gaffer, but I have to inform you that a bloke in Uganda wants you out.”
“Oh he does, does he? Sigh.”
11 “NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR BALL BACK!” France Juillan
There’s only so many footballs that can land in a Frenchwoman’s garden before she eventually snaps.
That’s what happened at the Pyrenees club Juillan III, where one local resident stormed out onto the pitch with a chair during the game with Tarbes, sat down and refused to budge. The match was abandoned – consider it a point made.
12 WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? Qatar Doha
There was a surprise winner of the Doha Bank Lottery: former Barcelona ace Xavi.
He may reportedly be on £7 million per year at Al Sadd, but Xavi bagged himself an extra million Riyal (£200,000) as well as one of those huge cheques. Decent publicity for the lottery, too, as it goes...
It gives clubs battling FFP an idea: can our players win the lottery every week?
BATTLE AXE Getafe released Cata Diaz after his wife called the coach a ‘fake coward’ on Instagram. But at least a fake coward is better than a real coward, right?