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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 10 hours ago
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Sep 24, 2010

Balotelli's regrets, Bywater's 'erotic' art

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Mario Balotelli reveals his three biggest regrets, Stephen Bywater apologises for his 'erotic' art installation, a Honduras goalkeeper shoots at journalists and Micah Richards and Adam Johnson pay £12,000 for a date with Jordan.

Balotelli's three big regrets

Injured Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has wisely used his time on the sidelines to philosophise on the regrets of his life thus far. He has just three, but unfortunately the one involving "silly girls" is a mistake he makes over and over again.

"I would not do three things if I had my time over," sage Balotelli opined. "I wouldn't throw the Inter shirt to the ground, I would never again bite back at the fans, nor would I spend time with silly girls who just want to use me for publicity.

"I prefer to be alone than with such brainless people. Evidently I must be stupid as well, as I keep on finding these girls..."

Balotelli might yet have to add a fourth regret to that list after alienating Man City fans, and effectively the whole of England, when he went on to say: "If I was looking for the nicest house in the world, I wouldn't have come to England." Has he never seen Stephen Ireland's house?

Keepers art crosses the line

When Derby County goalkeeper and budding artist Stephen Bywater stood back to admire the 'masterpiece' he had created in his garden, he probably didn't expect to be apologising and covering it with a piece of tarpaulin following a host of complaints from peeved neighbours.

The trouble is that Bywater's creation is as far away from the Venus de Milo as you can get and consists of a defaced portaloo, an inflatable sex-doll, a bright blue horse-box and a number of used mattresses. It's no surprise that Derby have "completely disassociated" themselves from the artwork and the local police have become involved.

Branded "erotic" by the press (although anybody who finds it erotic has much deeper issues than a simple lack of appreciation of a footballer's artwork) Bywater has been forced to apologise to "any supporters and local residents in Derbyshire who have been offended".

Given the storm of controversy his artwork has produced it's sure to win the Turner Prize; an award for which shortlisted entries have included an unmade bed complete with dirty sheets and detritus and a garden shed.

Honduran goalkeeper shoots at journalist

Some people don't take criticism very well and unfortunately for Diez journalist Saul Carranza 'not taking it well' meant being shot at by furious Honduras goalkeeper Donaldo Morales following an unflattering article in his newspaper.

As retribution for the negative reports, Morales went after Carranza while he was interviewing Motagua team-mate Jorge Claros following a practice at the Estadio Nacional in Tegucigalpa. Morales appeared with an air gun and started to take pot shots at Carranza, hitting him twice and winging another journalist with a wayward shot.

Momentarily inspired by Diego Maradona's similar repost to journalists in 1994, when he injured four people with an air rifle outside his Buenos Aires country home, Morales later came to his senses and asked Carranza to forgive him but the reporter refused.

Motagua president Pedro Atala is set to punish Morales, who has made 156 appearances for the Honduran team to date, or at least that's what sports daily Diez reports.

Weeping keeper forced to play on in Roma defeat

Roma goalkeeper Julio Sergio bawled like a baby ESPN Video throughout the final minutes of the Giallorossi's 2-1 defeat in Brescia on Wednesday night, not because the struggling team's plight is so woefully depressing but because he was forced to play on despite suffering a serious ankle injury.

The Brazilian crocked himself hurtling out of his penalty area and into Brescia's Panagiotis Kone in a wild challenge that ended with a yellow card and dislocated ankle for the hapless 31-year-old.

But with Claudio Ranieri's team down to ten-men following the sending off of defender Philippe Mexes, and all three substitutes already on the pitch, the 'keeper was patched up and propped up between the posts to weep away the final moments.

It was a particularly bad night for Roma, who were denied two clear penalties, after which sporting director Daniel Prade called for the match officials to be suspended. Meanwhile, Roma have lined up former Italy coach Marcello Lippi to replace Ranieri.

Man City duo pay £12,000 for date with Jordan

Most people would hack off their right arm to avoid going on date with man-eating former glamour model Katie 'Jordan' Price but Manchester City duo Micah Richards and Adam Johnson have paid £12,000 for the privilege.

After chatting to the pair at a charity event organised by ex-footballer Ashley Ward, Jordan quickly persuaded Richards and Johnson to part with thousands of pounds to spend some time with her.

But with the bidding stalled at £8,000 Jordan felt she was going cheap and jumped to her feet to urge the duo to donate more cash. "They have been giving it large all night," she said. "Come on, you can go to £12,000 - who is it you play for, Man City?"

The cash, along with another £180,000 raised at the VIP night, will be split amongst four worthy charities but Richards and Johnson still face the intimidating prospect of dinner with Jordan. Maybe they should have just jumped out of a plane or something.

Video of the week

Clumsily booting the ball into the back of your own net has always been a source of much mirth (as the never ending Own Goals and Gaffes DVD franchise proves) but Santo Andre's Vitor Hugo took it to whole new level this week when he manage to arse the ball past his goalkeeper.

Twenty five minutes into their Brazilian Serie B match against Portuguesa de Desportos the luckless player fell on the ball at such an improbable angle that it squirted out from between his rump and the floor, chipped the keeper and nestled in the back of the net. To see Vitor Hugo score an own goal with his arse click here. ESPN Video

Around the web

• Santos sack Dorival after he bans starlet Neymar

• UEFA stopped Man City from interviewing own players

• Inside Stephen Ireland's amazingly tasteless house

• Alan Shearer, a television pundit? More like a large, well-paid child

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