Zahovic zapped by rogue mail

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The Independent Online

The peril of Greeks bearing gifts has been known since ancient times, but the cradle of civilisation has now embraced the modern world to deliver its warnings. Zlatko Zahovic is wary of Greeks bearing email.

The peril of Greeks bearing gifts has been known since ancient times, but the cradle of civilisation has now embraced the modern world to deliver its warnings. Zlatko Zahovic is wary of Greeks bearing email.

The gifted Slovenian is scheduled to return to Athens on Wednesday night for the first time since he quit Olympiakos in the summer for Valencia, but his erstwhile followers are not laying out the welcome mat. Instead, they have posted death threats on Zahovic's personal website, and Valencia are concerned enough to have asked the Spanish consulate in Athens to provide special security before and after the Group C encounter.

Zahovic, who upset Olym-piakos when he refused to play last season after a fall-out with the coach, Albert Bigon, insists he is not scared by the dotty.com Greek fans. "The people who have sent those threats don't worry me," he declared. "Those threats motivate me, and I am looking forward to playing."

However, with Valencia having tied up their qualification by winning in Lyon last Tuesday, the decision may be taken out of Zahovic's hands. "If the club think the rest of the team run a risk if I travel, then I will understand," said Zahovic.

 

It is not only in Athens you need to look over your shoulder. Down at the 'Ammers could have been a nasty experience for Arsenal's players yesterday, if Paolo di Canio's autobiography is to be believed.

The West Ham idol confesses in his book - apart from his admiration of Mussolini - that he is Lazio daft and was a teenage hooligan who ran with the infamous Irriducibili gang, who were behind the racist poison in the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night.

Uefa have investigated the confrontation, in which Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were abused, and on Friday banned the principal culprit, the Lazio midfielder Sinisa Mihajlovic, for two matches. He is hardly penitent.

"Yes it's true, I called him [Vieira] a black shit, but he provoked me by calling me a gypsy shit," Mihajlovic told the Italian press. "If I am a racist then so is he. I don't have anything against blacks. I didn't insult him just because of the colour of his skin."

However, given that Leicester City players suffered racism from Red Star Belgrade's lowlife last month, and Emile Heskey was targeted by Yugoslavs when playing for England Under-21s last season, it is now clear why so many Serbs end up at right-wing Lazio, and why so few blacks. On Thursday the Serie A club imposed a press ban, or, as one paper inappropriately called it, a black-out.

 

Rangers travel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium on Wednesday looking to beef up their under-strength side. Goalkeeper Stefan Klos is out for six weeks after gambling with an ankle injury and playing in the 0-0 draw with Galatasaray, so teenager Mark Brown will be pitched in at the deep end. Dick Advocaat has eight other players out, including Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Mols, who are both back in their native Holland receiving treatment.

In the case of Mols, who suffered a knee injury last November against Bayern Munich which put him out for 10 months, the fear is that his career is now in doubt. "After a year, and the problem does not improve, you begin to get scared," he said. Still, Sturm have problems of their own. Keeper Kazimierz Sidorczukis out injured, leaving theimpressively-named Josef Schicklgruber to take over - he let in five goals at Ibrox.

 

The latest gem from the House of Anelka. Apparently the enfant terrible is about to launch his own line of underwear. However, given Paris St Germain's poor 2-0 defeat by Bayern Munich last Wednesday, Parisian fans reckon that Naughty Nic is already pants.

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