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Blog - The Toe Poke

 By Chris Wright

Owner issues mandate over goalkeeper's 'unlucky' birth date

For Massimo Cellino, the number 17 is one to avoid.
For Massimo Cellino, the number 17 is one to avoid.

Massimo Cellino hasn't made an awful lot of friends since taking over at Leeds United at the tail end of last season, and his latest little quirk has definitely seen the Italian entrepreneur scrubbed off goalkeeper Paddy Kenny's Christmas card list.

For you see, according to The Guardian, Cellino suffers from a deep-rooted superstition revolving around the number 17, even going as far as having all the No. 17 seats removed at the stadium of his previous club, Cagliari, and having them all replaced with seats reading "16B."

O ... K.

Unfortunately for Kenny, Cellino -- who was first unimpressed that the goalkeeper returned for preseason training several kilograms overweight earlier this week -- has now reportedly informed Leeds head coach David Hockaday to leave Kenny out of the squad for Leeds' preseason tour of Italy and to never again select the ex-Republic of Ireland stopper for first-team duties after making a shocking discovery.

Kenny's birthday falls, you guessed it, May 17.

As explained in The Guardian, the "17" issue harks back to Cellino's time in Italian football when Cagliari only managed to avoid defeat once in 20 years when playing on the 17th of the month.

It would also appear that Cellino is mortally afraid of the colour purple -- because of course he is!

"In a recent interview, he remembered that victory and put it down to him asking the club's supporters to wear the dreaded purple to the game," the Guardian added, with Cellino quoted as saying:

"The whole stadium was purple on the 17th. We won because I think that bad luck is like algebra: minus and minus is positive. Purple and 17 ... they became positive and we won. That's the only time."

Ay ay ay! We never thought it possible, but this man is making Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan look calm, sane and rational by comparison.