Football: Romario snub to Barcelona demands

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The Independent Online
BARCELONA begin their pre-season training programme today minus Romario, their leading player. The Brazilian striker is still celebrating the World Cup victory back home in Rio de Janeiro.

Romario is at least practising his ball skills. After a week of daily foot-volleyball sessions on the local beach, he delighted 2,000 shanty-town dwellers on Saturday by playing a full, 11-a-side game on a dirt pitch.

'I wanted to show my friends that success has not gone to my head,' Romario said. 'I'll never forget my friends and where I came from.'

Of Barcelona's demands that he return to Spain yesterday, Romario said: 'I deserve a rest. I tried to get in touch with Barcelona directors to tell them I'm still wiped out from the World Cup and victory ceremonies in Brazil. I'm going to insist on getting an extra two weeks rest. I'm sure they'll understand.'

Bobby Robson, who knows all about Romario's timekeeping from their days at PSV Eindhoven, returns to Ipswich Town tonight with his Porto team for Mick Stockwell's testimonial.

During his successful managership at Portman Road, Robson signed Stockwell as a 15-year-old apprentice in 1980.

'We hope to make it a terrific night for him in a well-deserved testimonial game,' Robson said.

Alex Totten, the manager of East Fife, is expected to assume a similar position at Kilmarnock today.

'Kilmarnock are a great club. A club with a long history and now a new stadium,' Totten said.

'I used to love going there as a player and of course I took teams there as a manager.

'The way the supporters encouraged the team last season was superb and there's always a good atmosphere at Rugby Park.'

East Fife are likely to seek some compensation for Totten and Kilmarnock, whose own claim against Celtic is under review by the Scottish League, will comply.

The Dundee United defender, Maurice Malpas, is set to miss the start of the Scottish season after injuring his knee in a pre-season friendly.

The Rangers and Scotland striker, Ally McCoist, is doubtful for the Glasgow club's international tournament on Friday and Saturday because he is suffering from a calf strain.

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