Around the world in 12 stories
Tube train gymnastics, Bayern’s award-winning cat and the latest instalment of ‘Greek football is nuts’ – it’s been another eventful month all across the globe
1 ARMANI: FASHION KING Argentina Mendoza
Goalkeeper Franco Armani got a special treat after a man-of-the-match display in River Plate’s Supercopa victory over bitter rivals Boca Juniors, a showdown played on neutral territory.
Not only was Armani given a Burger King crown as part of the award’s new sponsorship deal, he even got to wear it live on television during a post-game interview. Next time he’s in danger of winning the honour, it might be worth letting in a last-minute goal, to save a bit of embarrassment ....
“THIS IS YOUR FAULT, PEP!” England London
So exciting has been Manchester City’s football this season that they’re peeling fans off the ceiling – literally.
One of their supporters got a little carried away when he boarded a Tube train ahead of the Citizens’ clash with Arsenal, swinging from the handrails while a woman covered her eyes in horror after getting a rather unwanted close-up of his rear end.
It could have been worse: at least it wasn’t a Blue moon.
3 TOP CAT Turkey Istanbul
When Bayern Munich launched a poll to decide the star player at Besiktas, there was a clear victor: Wagner 3%, Muller 6%, Thiago 6%, cat 85%.
The feline took the honours after invading the pitch during the second half, earning Besiktas a UEFA fine for ‘insufficient organisation’. Die Roten swiftly mocked up a photograph of a six-foot cat scoring in the 3-1 win: the tabby clearly learned its skill set from Cristiano Ronaldo, so expect it to declare itself the best cat in history.
4 DEBUCHY 1 FEKIR 0 France Lyon
Nabil Fekir kicked off a riot when he scored Lyon’s fifth goal in November’s 5-0 win at rivals Saint-etienne – taking off his shirt and showing it to the home fans, who promptly stormed the pitch.
In tribute, Lyon fans created a giant tifo of a shirt-wielding Fekir for the return fixture, but this time he didn’t score, and the hosts were denied by a late Mathieu Debuchy equaliser. Arsenal’s fans hope to see a 50-foot Debuchy tifo next time the sides meet.
SKID MARKS Spain Madrid
It’s been an odd few weeks for Sergio Ramos. First he turned up at Real Madrid training in full Peaky Blinders garb driving a classic Seat 600, an early birthday gift from his brother.
Days later, he had his own Gary Lineker moment against Eibar, briefly leaving the pitch after being caught short. “He s**t himself a bit, so went to the bathroom,” Zinedine Zidane tactfully revealed. Cheers Zizou!
6 RISE LIKE A FENIX (CHICKEN) Uruguay Montevideo
Fenix have been banned from their home stadium for one match – after a director kicked a chicken at a game.
The Uruguayan outfit were hosting Racing when fans threw two chickens onto the pitch, painted in Racing’s colours, in a dig at the visitors. The joke went wrong when unimpressed director Gaston Alegari strode onto the playing surface, booting one of the birds high into the air and off the playing surface. The incident sparked rage from animal rights groups: it was a needless fowl.
A SPIKY AFFAIR Turkey Istanbul
Fenerbahce-galatasaray is notoriously feisty, and one Fener fan was taking no chances: painting his head blue and turning up at the match with spikes sticking out of his face.
Presumably the spikes were designed to ward off attacks from Galatasaray fans, although they also stopped birds from landing on his head: a perennial problem in Istanbul. Probably.
8 DIJON ROBOT IS THE MUSTARD France Dijon
How do you make Dijon against Caen more interesting? By letting a robot take the kick-off, of course.
It gets weirder: as part of ‘Geek Day’, the pre-match capers started when another machine trundled across the pitch, complete with a screen showing live images of a smiling fan sat at home, watching events on Facetime.
Fan (still smiling, as if instructed at gunpoint) was given a close-up view as the robot kicked off before dabbing in celebration. Absolutely bizarre.
9 HAT TRICK England Bolton
Preston’s fans wear bowler hats once a year, as part of the club’s Gentry Day. This year it was for a match at Bolton, when striker Sean Maguire celebrated a goal by donning a bowler himself.
The tradition is all because of Alan Ball’s dad, who described Preston fans as ‘gentry’ during a spell as the club’s manager. If TV evidence is anything to go by, some take a day off from being gentry whenever they play Blackpool…
10 GARFIELD SAYS NO Germany Bremen
Garfield has always hated Mondays, and so do Werder Bremen supporters after the controversial introduction of Monday Night Football to the Bundesliga.
MNF may have been a thing for 26 years in England, but the Germans are having none of it, so Bremen fans unveiled a Garfield ‘We Hate Mondays’ banner before a match with Cologne.
German TV should just do what Sky did: introduce some half-time sumo wrestling, and Andy Gray wielding a VHS machine. They will soon be convinced.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN NUTS Greece Thessaloniki
FFT was beginning to wonder if Greek football was still nuts: it had been quite a while since the league was suspended because of some mad/violent incident.
But in a three-way battle for the title, PAOK’S encounter with Olympiakos was called off after visiting manager Oscar Garcia was hit by a toilet roll. PAOK then faced their other title rival, AEK, and the match was abandoned when PAOK’S owner stormed the pitch while armed with a gun. Outcome: the league was suspended (again). Yep, still nuts.
FOAL SCORER Germany Freiburg
Thomas Muller knew who to thank after scoring for Bayern at Freiburg. “The first foal of the season was born last night,” he said. “It fired me up.”
Muller’s wife is a former equestrian ace and recently claimed that the Raumdeuter was receiving top tips from horse Filou in a bid to get back among the goals. It worked, but team-mates wish he’d stop neighing now...