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Sep 3, 2010

'Arry wheels and deals, Saha turns to leeches

The transfer window may be shut but Off The Ball is still open for business and continues to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp swears blind he is not a wheeler dealer, Louis Saha puts leeches on his dodgy knees, Atletico Juniors introduce a breathalyser at training and Chile combat whining players with ex-con referees.

Redknapp: I'm no f***ing wheeler dealer

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp - a man who has bought and sold more players over the years than super-agent Pini Zahavi - was caught on camera this week telling Sky Sports reporter Rob Palmer to f**k off after the journo had the temerity to call him a wheeler dealer.

Following Spurs' 1-0 defeat to Wigan at White Hart Lane, Palmer inquired if any new players might be on the way to the club: "You've made your name as a wheeler and dealer but there has not been much wheeling or dealing here." To which football's very own Del Boy replied: "I'm not a wheeler and dealer. F**k off! I didn't make my name as a wheeler and f***ing dealer. Don't say that - I'm a f***ing football manager." And with a dismissive flick of the hand Redknapp walked off camera.

But just three days later, the affronted Spurs boss was back to his wheeling and dealing best as he swooped to sign Rafael Van der Vaart from Real Madrid in a deal that was so late it wasn't ratified until the day after the transfer deadline and led Real to suggest Redknapp was telling fibs about how he nabbed the player from under the nose of Bayern Munich.

"It is absolutely false that Real Madrid received a €21 million offer from Bayern Munich for Van der Vaart," Real sporting director Miguel Pardeza said. "In fact, the German team never showed an interest to sign the player, so the allegations made in England have greatly surprised us."

Chile combat whining players with ex-con refs

Sick of all the whining and haranguing of officials that goes on in modern football? Well over in South America they may have stumbled across a solution to the problem; a Chilean prison is training ex-convicts to be football referees.

Now this, it has to be said, is an idea with great potential. Just imagine the scene... John Terry races over to remonstrate with the referee for the umpteenth time in his career only to cower in fear as he's greeted by Sirus the Virus from Con Air.

Admittedly that would be well down the line, as at the moment just 20 men and 10 women are undergoing the special refereeing program and will have to work their way up from inter-prison games to regular amateur games, but let's live the dream!

If TV has taught us anything it's that the high-life can only be a whistle stop away from the scruffy prison football pitches that the trainee refs are currently learning to impart justice on.

Saha leeches for the sky

Injury-plagued Everton striker Louis Saha has turned his back on the modern medicine that has failed to ease the pain in his dodgy knees and instead embraced the healing power of blood-sucking leeches from Guadeloupe.

Saha, 30, has struggled with chronic knee problems throughout his career but is now raring to go for another Premier League season after turning to a treatment that dates back more than 5,000 years to ancient Egypt.

"How did I treat my swollen knees? You're never going to believe it," Saha said. "I went to visit my grandparents, who live in Guadeloupe, and I put leeches on my knees. It swells up less, and I feel fine now. I'm well prepared both mentally and physically. I have the legs and hunger of a 20-year-old."

With Saha now feeling fighting fit, maybe he can loan his leeches to fellow dodgy-knee victim Owen Hargreaves, who has played less than a minute of Premier League football since September 2008, over at his former club Manchester United.

Juniors players let bellies down

Atletico Juniors manager Diego Umana has vowed to introduce a breathalyser at the Colombian club after three of his first-team players were caught "wasted" with their beer bellies hanging out in a nightclub just hours before they were due in training.

Colombian radio station Caracol urged Juniors to take action and claimed that the trio committed "shameful acts", were "binge-drinking lovers of the night" and were a bit too fond of "debauchery".

Juniors coach Umana wasn't too happy about the "ugly" incident either. "From now on I will use a breathalyser to make sure this kind of show is not repeated," he said.

Worryingly, Juniors are not the first Colombian side to resort to such measures; rival club Once Caldas introduced breath tests in May. "Some footballers are no good. We will expose them," a club source vowed.

Goalkeeper's obituary published after he joins hated rivals

Former Arsenal defender William Gallas might get a few boos following his move to cross-city adversaries Tottenham Hotspur but at least he is alive and well. When former Red Star Belgrade goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic joined hated rivals Partizan Belgrade he died - at least in the eyes of the fans that once adored him.

Furious Red Star supporters, who just two months ago had presented Stojkovic as an honorary club member in a public ceremony, published the Serbian international's obituary in protest at the unpalatable move.

Stojkovic came through the ranks at Red Star and although he left the Serbian club in 2004 he remained hugely popular with the fans. But following his loan move to Partizan from Sporting Lisbon the tide has definitely turned.

"I understand the fans, but posting my obituary is too much," said a very much alive and well Stojkovic.

Video of the week

Stjarnan FC, the Icelandic team who brought us the 'landing a fish' celebration and followed it up with a human bicycle and an imitation of a Rambo shooting spree, are in danger of becoming old hat in these fast moving times but Soccernet is a sucker for a bit of toilet humour and so we couldn't resist their latest offering. To see Stjarnan FC's toilet celebration click here.

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