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Dec 12, 2010

Ronaldinho joins Melo in the Golden Bin

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, Ian Wright is banned from his son's club Manchester City, Ronaldinho joins Felipe Melo in the Golden Bin, Guti is arrested and charged with drunk driving after crashing into a bus and the Swedish league trophy undergoes keyhole surgery.

Ronaldinho joins Melo in the Golden Bin

Forget the dull and predictable Ballon d'Or - although now it is run in conjunction with FIFA it could easily be awarded to a randomly undeserving country... er player. I meant player - because the nominations for the least-coveted award in football, the Bidone d'Oro, have been released.

The 'Golden Bin', a mock version of the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball), recognises Serie A's worst performer during the calendar year and last term's winner, Juventus midfielder Felipe Melo is back among the ten contenders along with AC Milan party animal Ronaldinho and Sampdoria gutter-mouth Antonio Cassano.

The shortlist for 2010 is as follows: Adriano (Roma), Mancini (Inter), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Ronaldinho (Milan), Amauri (Juventus), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus) Diego (Juventus), Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria), Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina).

Although Melo will obviously be hoping one of his three Juve team-mates on the list can prevent him from scooping the award for a second year running, Brazilian forward Adriano has actually already won it twice and could be the first player to complete an unwanted hat-tick.

Guti arrested after crashing into a bus

Former Real Madrid model and part-time footballer Guti is carving out a new career for himself in Turkey's version of Caught on Camera, after the Besiktas midfielder was arrested and charged with drink driving ESPN Video following a head-on collision with a bus.

The 34-year-old, who was apparently seven times over the limit - something Guti denied in Spanish newspaper Marca - drove his Range Rover on the wrong side of the road and ploughed into a bus at 04:00 am on Monday morning but escaped without injury.

Besiktas manager Bernd Schuster leapt to the defence of Guti and claimed his player couldn't possibly have been as inebriated as claimed. "At 0.27 [seven times over the limit] a person can't stand, let alone drive," Schuster said. "This is outrageous."

Club president Yildrim Demironen labelled Guti a "great professional" after he turned up for training on time the following day. The Turkish authorities disagreed, handing out a €270 fine and six-month driving ban.

Ian Wright banned by Man City

Loud-mouth pundit and former England striker Ian Wright has been told he is no longer welcome at Manchester City despite being the father of winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, according to the Daily Mirror.

City chief executive Garry Cook has barred Wright from Eastlands after growing tired of his continued criticism of the club. The self-proclaimed exclusion order also includes having players appear on his Absolute Radio talk show.

The ex-England international has criticised City over Wright-Phillip's ongoing contract negotiations, claiming in March they were "mugging off" his son by refusing to give him an increase on his £60,000-a-week wages.

Wright has frequently spoken out against the tactics and substitutions made by manager Roberto Mancini and also called for a long-term ban on City hatchet man Nigel De Jong.

Robinho: I built Man City

Sticking with Manchester City, those of you who thought £32.5 million flop Robinho did absolutely nothing for the club during his ill-fated year-and-a-half stay at Eastlands should think again.

The Brazilian international actually laid the foundations for the big-spending Premier League club to attract other star names, as the modest forward, now at AC Milan, explains...

"I opened the doors for other big players to come to City. Maybe if I hadn't signed there, no other big player would have signed there. I was the first of the big players present in this club."

Actually, he has got a point.

Surgeon to operate on Swedish trophy

Sweden's former national team doctor will perform keyhole surgery on the Allsvenskan football championship trophy following claims that the silversmith who made it inscribed 'Bajen forever', the nickname of his favourite team Hammarby on the inside.

Dr. Magnus Forssblad's surgical skills will have been enlisted to probe the ball on the top of the Lennart Johansson Cup to determine whether there is any truth to reports.

"We will perform a laparoscopic surgery, like one for a knee. I suggested it as a fun thing so that we do not have to destroy it, but only drill a small hole," Forsblad told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Hammarby have won the Allsvenskan only once in their long history, in 2001. The late silversmith's daughter is not impressed by the whole kafuffle, saying: "It is getting ridiculous now."


Video of the week

After winning the Brazilian championship, Fluminese boss Muricy Ramalho probably thought things couldn't get much better. But then his underpants-clad players decided to invade his victory press conference to give him a waterbath. To see Fluminense celebrate with water fight click here ESPN Video.


More than words...


Manchester City's polka-dot Christmas party. ©Picture from Manchester Evening News


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