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Sep 26, 2012

Almeyda lifts lid on Italian scandals

Former Argentina international Matias Almeyda has written about some of the worst aspects of Italian football in his new autobiography, including doping, match-fixing and problems with the mafia.

Extracts from the book - entitled Almeyda: Life and Soul - feature in La Gazzetta dello Sport and make for explosive reading, with the midfielder, who spent eight years in Italy with Lazio, Parma, Brescia and Inter, speaking of his experiences of life on the peninsula.

Speaking of his time with Parma, he talks about being given what he now believes were drugs - a story reinforced by television footage of Fabio Cannavaro taking on intravenous fluids the night before a match.

"At Parma we were given an IV drip before games," he wrote. "They said it was a mixture of vitamins but before entering the field I was able to jump up as high as the ceiling. Players do not ask questions, but then in the following years there are cases of former players dying from heart problems, suffering from muscular issues and more. I think it is the consequence of the things that have been given to them."

Almeyda also writes openly on his battle with alcohol during his time at Inter Milan, when his career was winding down.

"Once in Azul, my country, I drank five litres of wine, like Coca Cola, and I ended up in some kind of coma," he wrote. "To try to get it out of my system I ran five kilometres until I saw the sun spinning. A doctor gave me five hours of infusion and it would have been a scandal as at the time I was playing for Inter. When I woke up I saw my whole family around the bed and I thought it was my funeral."

On his earlier spell with Parma, he wrote of a disagreement with the former president and owner Stefano Tanzi and tells of men breaking into his home - an incident he claims was repeated when former team-mate Savo Milosevic had a similar argument with the club.

"I had a fight with Stefano Tanzi and several days later I woke up to find my new car was missing from the garage," he wrote. "Milosevic was also in conflict with the club with a contract as high as mine and the same thing happened.

"One day my wife comes home and hears voices inside. She ran away and called the police. There was a message on the wall, made with machine oil, a message from the mafia. My wife had a premature birth. Following the 2002 World Cup I've never been back to Parma."

He describes events from a match in 2001 when Parma lost 3-1 to Roma, who pipped Juventus to the Scudetto due to that result.

"Some companions in Parma told us that the Roma players wanted us to lose the game," he wrote. "I said no and the majority responded that way, but on the field I saw that some did not run as usual so I asked to be substituted and went in the locker room. Money? I do not know, they called it a favour..."

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