Ivano Bonetti, the Italian who has become a folk hero to Grimsby Town supporters, has walked out on the club after an extraordinary dressing- room clash with his manager, Brian Laws.
The former Sampdoria player has flown home to Italy with a suspected fractured cheekbone after the two men were involved in a confrontation after Grimsby's 3-2 defeat at Luton on Saturday.
The two men clashed after Bonetti picked up some food in the dressing- room during Laws' post-match inquest. Laws told Bonetti off for interrupting him, upon which the Italian midfielder threw up his arms in disgust.
Bonetti came off worse in the confrontation that followed and suffered a facial injury. He immediately left Grimsby and went back to Italy with his agent to have the injury examined by medical experts.
The incident happened just as Grimsby were preparing for their most important game for years, tomorrow night's FA Cup fourth-round replay at home to West Ham.
It is feared that Bonetti, who paid for his own transfer to Grimsby with pounds 50,000 from his own pocket, may never return to the club, where he has been hailed as a hero after helping to lift them up the First Division table.
Laws has been questioned by his board of directors over the incident and is expected to make a statement today about his future. However, the young player-manager is expected to be supported by the board over what is regarded as an out-of-character incident.
Middlesbrough have promised to take action against a spectator who allegedly spat at Newcastle's assistant manager, Terry McDermott, during Saturday's Premiership derby match at the Riverside Stadium. An investigation will be carried out to find out who was responsible for the incident, which happened after the match.
"Fortunately, it was a one-off, but whoever is responsible will lose his season ticket," a Middlesbrough spokesman, Dave Allan, said.
He added: "We have worked hard at a family image and we want to protect that reputation."Reuse content