Mark Fleming: Why the Mutu I knew should be given a break

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The Independent Football

Some people in football never learn, but Adrian Mutu is proving to be one of the exceptions. The flamboyant Romanian who was bombed out of Chelsea in disgrace in 2004 for taking cocaine has been rebuilding his life and his career for the last three years with Fiorentina.

Mutu claimed recently he has turned his life around, due largely to being happily married to his second wife, the model Consuelo Matos, with whom he has two daughters – Adriana, three, and Maya, one. "I am 30. I am another Mutu. A much more responsible one. For me, my family is more important then football. Period," he said in a recent interview.

There was always something charming about Mutu during his time at Chelsea. He carried a tattoo on his arm, saying: "A day without a smile is a day wasted." The motto of a party animal if ever there was one.

His crime was to party too hard and have Jose Mourinho as manager. Mutu was bought by Claudio Ranieri, who told owner Roman Abramovich to recruit the Romanian rather than Ronaldinho because the Brazilian was too much of a playboy.

But by the time Mutu was caught out by the drug testers in September 2004, Mourinho was in charge and they did not like one another. Chelsea dropped Mutu and are still chasing him for £14.6m in compensation.

For the moment Mutu is happy. He said: "Florence is home for me. People here love me and I have forgotten about the cocaine. Without meaning any offence, I would not go back to London if they paid me a fortune in gold. I've got nothing against English people – they are very nice and they are crazy for football. But nowhere is as good as Florence for me."