Gazza eyes acting career, pizza named after Cavani
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, Gazza targets a role in the remake of Escape to Victory, Napoli striker Edinson Cavani has a pizza named after him, an invasive examination reveals players' potential, Carlos Tevez gives Rio Ferdinand a helping hand and the quickest own goal from a sub was scored.
Gazza eager to dry out for film role
Troubled England legend Paul Gascoigne has checked into rehab and is determined to beat his ongoing drink and drug problems in order to star in a film alongside former Wimbledon hardman Vinnie Jones.
Unfortunately, Gazza's bid to dry himself out did mean he missed his sentencing for a drink-driving charge but, according to the Sun, the ex-Spurs star dreams of starring in the Bobby Moore role in a remake of the 1981 movie Escape To Victory.
Gazza, who received a call from Hollywood-based player-turned-actor Jones, said: "I need to get well to take on the role. This is my last chance at getting my life sorted and having a career as an actor. It was a favourite film of mine."
The original movie, which also featured Pele, Ossie Ardiles and Kazimierz Deyna alongside Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine, is set for a big budget overhaul and Jones is hoping to attract some of the biggest names in football, including David Beckham and Lionel Messi.
Naples names pizza after idol Cavani
Napoli striker Edinson Cavani has been banging in the goals since his summer move from Palermo and has quickly become something of an idol in Naples, so much so that the city that invented pizza has named one after him.
Neapolitans had already made hundreds of miniature figurines to honour their top scorer but then he went and bagged both goals in the Partenopei's 2-0 victory over Parma at the weekend and they had to ramp up their adoration.
La Gazzetta dello Sport claim that the new Cavani pizza is a Calzone called El Matador, which pays tribute to the 23-year-old's nickname, and is actually shaped like a matador's hat.
Cavani has scored almost half of Napoli's Serie A goals this season to help fire them up to third - ahead of Inter, Juve and Roma - and looks set to challenge for the Capocannoniere top scorer award.
Genitals hold the key to football success
A coach from Chinese Third Division side Tianjin Locomotive claims studying the size and shape of a player's penis could help him uncover the next Lionel Messi.
The unnamed coach told the Yangtze Evening Post that "genital examination is necessary" in order to help determine the potential of young players as a condition called 'congenital testicular dysplasia' imbalances hormone levels and makes playing sports difficult.
Eager not to make Chinese football a laughing stock, the article also quotes a Henan professor of reproductive medicine as saying: "Looking at a boy's penis size and shape can give you an idea of his hormone level. Boys with short, thick genitals and tight scrotum are good for football playing."
However, the Tianjin coach was eager to point out that there are many factors, including "football IQ", that influence whether a young player will make the grade, and said that checking the genitals alone would be "ridiculous". Yes it would.
Ivanov scores quickest own goal ever
Levski Sofia defender Ivo Ivanov has bagged himself an unwanted record of scoring the quickest own goal by a substitute after he put the ball in his own net just 14 seconds into his arrival in a Europa League tie against Lille.
Bulgarian number crunchers have declared Ivanov's equaliser in the 2-2 draw as the fastest own goal by a substitute in European club competition and some statisticians claim it is the quickest ever own goal by a player coming off the bench.
Hapless Ivanov headed the ball into the Levski net in the 87th minute with his first touch to level the scores at 2-2 just six minutes after Vladimir Gadzhev had put the home side ahead. "This is the worst moment of my life," Ivanov said.
However, there is a crumb of comfort for Ivanov because British record books show that Torquay United central defender Pat Kruse scored the fastest own goal in history (not as a sub) - taking only eight seconds to find his own net against Cambridge United in 1977.
China suspends goalkeeper after "morons" tirade
Wayne Rooney may have stepped out of line when he rebuked booing England fans with a quick rant into a live TV camera during the World Cup but he's got nothing on China goalkeeper Wang Dalei who called fans of the national team "dogs" and "morons" after they jeered the side.
"It would be flattery to call you fans. You're just a bunch of dogs," the 21-year-old Dalei wrote after China's opening loss to Japan at the Asian Games. "You bunch of morons are the main reason why Chinese football can't make progress. You throw in stones after a man has fallen into a well."
The comment was quickly deleted from his Twitter-like microblog, which has 80,000 followers, but screen grabs later appeared all over the net and the keeper, who was already benched for China's 2-1 comeback win over Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, has been suspended.
Wang was also "ordered to meditate on his action." We're not sure that punishment would work on too many England players.
Video of the week
Sidney Sam scored two goals in Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 Bundesliga victory over Kaiserslautern this week but he'll only remember one of them. Sam himself can't quite believe he has just scored a goal of such quality. With a looping clearance dropping high out of the sky, Sam volleys it back from whence it came - a genuine contender for goal of the season .
Snapshot of the week
Carlos Tevez gives Rio Ferdinand a thorough examination in the Manchester derby.
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