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Oct 1, 2010

Veterans turn to acting, Rooney loves tweed

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, Wayne Rooney is voted the worst dressed player at Manchester United, Cuauhtemoc Blanco makes his acting debut alongside topless Paraguay fan Larissa Riquelme, Arsenal are forced to change by mobile phone light, and we introduce the world's first interactive Super Mario Brothers banner.

Blanco to make acting bow alongside Riquelme

Mexico veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who became the oldest player to score at the 2010 World Cup when he bagged a penalty against France, is preparing to play a fireman in a Mexican TV drama series alongside topless Paraguay fan Larissa Riquelme.

Blanco, 37, will continue to play football for second division Irapuato, following two years in the MLS with Chicago Fire from 2007 to 2009, while making his acting debut on Televisa, the biggest Spanish language broadcasters in the world.

"This is a big challenge for me. It's a new stage (in my life). I know I'll be criticised, people will make fun of me, but I don't care - I'll give it all my efforts and I know I'll come through," Blanco said.

His co-star, lingerie model Riquelme, hit the headlines when she delivered on her promise to strip naked after the World Cup and has since graced the front covers of numerous gentleman's publications, including Playboy.

Toto Schillaci becomes a mafia boss

Sticking with World Cup icons and their unlikely careers in acting, former Italy striker Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci is also determined to make his mark on the silver screen.

Schillaci, who rose from obscurity to become the top scorer at Italia '90 before disappearing again, will play a Mafioso killer. The Sicilian will appear in two scenes of Squadra Antimafia, which is a bit like The Wire, and has no worries about portraying a criminal.

"The role does not matter. Otherwise I do not know what you would think of De Niro," Schillaci said. "It's a world that fascinates me, that of television and film."

If the 45-year-old needs a motivation, maybe he can simply recall his time at Juventus when he received a one-match ban for threatening to shoot Bologna's Fabio Poli.

Calamity keeper has on-pitch breakdown

Blundering Moroccan penalty shootout keeper Khalid Askri, who celebrated saving a spot-kick only for the ball to roll into the net when his back was turned ESPN Video, substituted himself this week after another costly gaffe.

The FAR Rabat keeper ripped off his shirt and ran down the players' tunnel ESPN Video after being tackled in his own penalty area to give away the softest of goals against KAC Kenitra.

The emotional Askri had to duck and weave his way past his team-mates as they attempted to console him amid the celebrations from the stands. But nothing would stop him exiting before the game had even reached half-time. Rabat, sixth in the Moroccan Championnat National Botola, eventually lost the game 1-0.

Arsenal forced to change by mobile phone light

Arsenal's resourceful youngsters were forced to get changed by mobile phone light for their Champions League clash with Partizan Belgrade when the Serbian club's 61-year-old stadium was plunged into darkness by a series of power cuts.

Gunners midfielder Denilson was the first to illuminate the outside world when he posted, presumably via his all powerful mobile phone, on Twitter: "We're here and in the locker room, but without any light. I hope the electrics come back soon so we are able to get changed and play."

UEFA considered calling off the match but, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger eager to avoid a postponement, the Gunners muddled through the dark and eventually won the match 3-1 to go top of Group H.

Afterwards, Jack Wilshere, who previously landed himself in a bit of mobile trouble, revealed he'd found an alternative use for his phone: "[To get changed] we had to use the phone torches and that."

Rooney "worst dressed player at United"

Thrown in the dog house by his wife, dumped for the trip to Everton by his manager, sidelined with injury for club and country - things just can't get any worse for Wayne Rooney.

Well, actually they can. The out-of-form, under-the-weather, in-the-spotlight striker has been named as the worst dressed player at Manchester United by his team-mates. And with good reason, according to United defender John O'Shea.

"Wazza's bad at times," O'Shea told Football Punk magazine. "He obviously pays quite a lot for his gear but it doesn't really work for him. Last season he was trying to pull off the country gent look with a few hunting jackets. Let's just say he was alone in thinking that he looked good."

Rooney the country gent? The mind just can't comprehend such a ridiculous sight.

Video of the week

You have to hand it to the fans of MLS side Chicago Fire - not only did they produce a banner intended to insult to Seattle Sounders, who are sponsored by Xbox, but they also created what we can only assume is the first interactive Super Mario Brothers banner the world has ever seen. Click here to see the banner. ESPN Video

Around the web

• French club name stadium after Didier Drogba

• Former France boss Domenech 'Signs On' le dole

• Roman Abramovich building nightclub under Stamford Bridge

• Scientists name asteroid after Dutch legend Johan Cruyff

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