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Lineker's poo and the benefits of booze

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, Gary Lineker does an Italian job while Ian Holloway shows up Jose Mourinho's lack of ambition.

England's No. 2

Some 20 years after the event, Gary Lineker has seen fit to announce - in an interview with the BBC, his employers, to mark the occasion of his 50th birthday - that he did a poo on the pitch during a World Cup game against Republic of Ireland at Italia '90ESPN Video .

That he had stomach cramps during the game was widely reported at the time, but the press missed the full ramifications of the incident.

"Unless you know, you wouldn't know," Lineker said. "I tried to tackle someone, stretched and relaxed myself and erm ... "

He then spent a considerable amount of time trying to wipe his effluent on the pitch while 'washing' his hands on the grass. "I was very fortunate that it rained that night," he added.

The match report in the Daily Express seemed close to uncovering the facts of the case - "trying to get through was like trying to unblock a clogged drain, and the supply to Lineker was more like a drip than a flood" - while the striker said he "never found so much space after that in my life".

Perhaps the incident was still on his mind during the post-match interview, when asked for his thoughts on Ireland's performance. "Not pretty to watch, but certainly effective," he said.

Blackpool pleasure beach

Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder revealed this week that he became ready to kill himself and others for Jose Mourinho after he gave him a three-day holiday last season.

"Once he said to me: 'Wesley, you look tired. Take a few days off. Go get some sun with your wife and child'," he told France Football. "All the other coaches [in my career] only spoke about training. He sent me to the beach, so I went to Ibiza for three days. When I got back, I was prepared to kill and die for him."

And Ian Holloway, adding further weight to Big Sam's theory that the Blackpool boss is Mourinho's equal, risked turning his whole side into suicidal/homicidal maniacs ahead of Saturday's big game against Manchester United with his own beach plans.

"Whereas most teams can train under their beautiful bubble, we haven't really got anywhere," Holloway said. "What we might use is the beach. I might have to take them indoors, an aerobics class or something, but we need to keep moving with the ball.

"We went to train on the beach last year, but it was frozen so we went to the casino instead, got the bacon sandwiches in and organised a poker tournament, which they loved, but that's not exactly what you need to do before you play Manchester United, is it?"

Romanian ruin

Romanian minnows FC Timisoara have made international headlines this week thanks to their president, Marian Iancu, and his foul mouth.

He engaged in a debate on the Contraatac TV show with Universitatea Craiova manager Victor Piturca last month, in which he repeatedly asked him if he was gay and accused him of being a Satanist, adding: "I'm convinced you're gay! But we know that in Europe it is a virtue to be homosexual."

Piturca, meanwhile, said Iancu was "200 or 300 kilos of s***" and "stayed in bed eating 50 pies and 25 sandwiches".

Silviu Tudor Samuila, hosting the show, said: "We are trying in vain to establish pleasant dialogue in Romanian football. People will be offended."

"I'm just wondering if he's homosexual," Iancu said. "Mr Pirturca, do you hear me?"

The vice-president of the national broadcasting council (CNA) said the whole affair could affect the moral development of the country's children, and Piturca - who apologised - was given a four-match suspension for his part in the debate. The Romanian league later reduced it to one, leaving Iancu deeply displeased.

"I will complain to FIFA and UEFA," he said, adding that Piturca had "insulted and discriminated against me".

Emphasising his position as the victim, Iancu has also insulted "arrogant and ugly" FC Otelul Galati president Marius Stan. "He tells me to keep quiet, but he's the one that needs to shut it," he said. "He is bent. All the world's washing powder and Danube's waters aren't enough to clean this man's character."

Beer: Dangerous and good for you

Vahid Halilhodzic, fired by Ivory Coast after the team's showing at this year's African Nations Cup, has been a roaring success since taking charge of Dinamo Zagreb in August. Introducing an attractive style of football, they are currently seven points clear of Hajduk Split at the top of the table and have beaten Villarreal in the Europa League.

The talking point of late, though, is booze.

Amid rumours of partying in the squad, Halilhodzic warned his players: "Alcohol is very dangerous for the muscles. I have two degrees, so I know what happens to muscles when alcohol gets into the blood. The likelihood of injury increases by three to five times."

Two days after that speech, Dinamo won 2-0 away at sixth-placed Rijeka and the coach announced that, on their return, he had taken his players out for a night on the tiles.

"I took the players out for a drink at 2am," he said. "Beer is good to settle you down after all that effort, because it has protein. Beer can be good after an exhausting match. Even advisable."

Football's like a box of penicillin

Amid all Rafa's talk of white liquid in bottles and priests on sugar mountains, Dejan Stankovic entered the world of the simile after Inter's much-needed 5-2 win over Parma.

"We won and victories are like penicillin: they cure all the problems," he said, wildly overestimating penicillin's medicinal capacities. "Even if there is a moment of difficulty, we are alive."

Video of the week

Benoit Patin, a midfielder with French third-tier side Rodez, produced an artful volley from inside his own half against Rouen to score what looked an entirely unintentional goal ESPN Video.

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