Adrian Mutu's strange world: drug tests, porn queens and a degree in law

The urbanity of Chelsea's striker counted for nothing when the goals stopped coming.
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The Independent Online

"I guess I am the ultimate split personality," joked Adrian Mutu in an interview last season. He was meant to be describing the quirkiness of being a professional footballer who was also in the final year of his law degree, who read poetry and had just finished Dostoyevsky's The Idiot.

"I guess I am the ultimate split personality," joked Adrian Mutu in an interview last season. He was meant to be describing the quirkiness of being a professional footballer who was also in the final year of his law degree, who read poetry and had just finished Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. The novel's title leads on to the other side of the Romanian's personality. He wasn't just a player, he was something of a playboy, too.

Indeed, at his first press conference after joining Chelsea - in August 2003 at the club's training ground near Heathrow airport - he sat, in jeans, unshaven, with an open-necked top and obligatory diamond studs in his ear. He was eloquent, urbane, confident and, dare it be said, poetic even, but the stage-managed affair had been prefaced by a demand from his new employers than no one asked questions about Mutu's turbulent private life.

The story of the striker's travails since his £15.8m transfer from Parma - where he had just scored 13 goals in the most parsimonious of leagues - reads more like a timeline of turmoil rather than a career. There may have been requests for questions not to be asked about his off-field activities, but there has been precious little else to talk about since.

After that signing it was claimed that he was bought without the knowledge of the then coach, Claudio Ranieri. That was something the Italian always denied. Ranieri claimed Mutu - whom he described as a "snake" because of his subtle, predatory instincts - was "top of the list" once Roman Abramovich's cash started to flow. The coach claimed he had wanted to sign the striker since Euro 2000. Indeed, Gianluca Vialli said Mutu was the new Gianfranco Zola, while Marcel Desailly called him a fox.

Mutu's footballing pedigree is excellent. His father was a mathematician in an IT company, his mother a computer operator and the young Adrian grew up in the town of Pitesti, in Ceausescu's Romania, apparently reading the poetry of Mihail Eminescu, while dreaming of one day emulating his hero, Gheorghe Hagi. He moved from Arges Pitesti, the local club, to Dinamo Bucharest, Internazionale, Verona, Parma and finally west London. He was - and remains - a national hero.

But at the time Mutu joined Chelsea he was facing the prospect of charges for allegedly beating his former wife, a Romanian television presenter called Alexandra Dinu. The charges were later dropped and the couple, who were once, embarrassingly, described as Romania's answer to Posh and Becks started messy, very public, divorce proceedings. When they finally ended a Bucharest court ruled that they were equally guilty for the marriage's collapse.

Mutu was ordered, in October, to pay a monthly allowance of £1,750 for his year-old son Mario - whom he dotes upon but who stayed with Dinu. By then the goals - after scoring the winner on his debut against Leicester City followed by six in his first five games - had started to dry up and his personal problems were clearly affecting him. Mutu subsequently went 13 matches without scoring. On the field at least.

Off it he had begun a romance with former Miss Israel and Italian TV star Moran Atias followed by one with another small-screen presenter, Italian Kitty Cepraga. In May this year he became embroiled in an elaborate newspaper sting back in Bucharest when, along with other footballers, he was caught having sex with a porn star. Unsurprisingly, when he arrived in July, Jose Mourinho told Mutu to curb his womanising and stop partying. He had been seen - too often - enjoying London's social scene late into the night.

It was also clear, however, that he was not part of the manager's plans. Mutu, it is claimed, responded by trying to orchestrate a loan move to Juventus, later to become a £6.6m permanent deal. But this was vetoed by Abramovich and, after peace talks, it appeared that Mutu would try to knuckle down and fight for his place. He did change his ways. The late nights appeared curbed, the friends from Bucharest banished and he moved out of London.

It is said he has, however, never been able to handle criticism and Chelsea team-mates have privately remarked upon how he can transform from a smile to sullen silence in seconds. But that, of course, is common of many footballers used to having their own way. Insecurity is a close relation of confidence.

In September, when back in Romania, where most of his scrapes occur, Mutu was involved in a 4am car chase through the streets of Bucharest after refusing to hand his driving licence to police. He received a three-month ban and a doctor then advised him to visit a mental health specialist.

Last week it was claimed he was in "open conflict" with Mourinho over his fitness. Chelsea claimed he had a knee injury, Mutu said he was ready to play and he flew out to join the Romania squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic. On his return he was fined two weeks wages - £120,000 - not for going but for his remarks about the manager he said had promised him first-team football.

Ranieri, also, has revised his assessment. In his recent diary of last season's events, Proud Man Walking, he labels Mutu "a big disappointment". "He had all the skills and flair but things have to be right between the ears too," he wrote. Despite Mutu's professed intelligence, the damning verdict of his former boss may prove to be all too prophetic.

Saint or sinner?

He's one of the most intelligent young men I have ever met and I'm not just talking about footballers. He's the kind of guy I would want my daughter to marry. Talented, unselfish, giving, handsome...

Alberto Malesani, (Mutu's former coach at Verona)

Well, I'm quite protective of my daughter... but it's obvious he's a great professional and a wonderful young man

Claudio Ranieri, (Former manager at Chelsea)

I am fascinated by the power of words. They can either knock down any wall or create the most insurmountable of barriers

Adrian Mutu

He is arrogant and wants to be a star, a prima donna who has gone abroad to make his fortune and forgotten about his roots in Romania

Senior football reporter for a major Romanian newspaper

Mutu had all the skills and flair, but to win championships things have to be right between the ears

Ranieri

I cannot say that he will play for this club again. At the moment he cannot train and when a player can't train I don't think about him at all

Jose Mourinho, (Current manager at Chelsea)

'I felt sorry for Bosnich but as for Mutu... he can go to hell. His attitude stinks and he's not producing on the pitch

Chelsea fan (Official Chelsea website chatroom)

'I am not a saint. And never will be

Mutu

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