Outside Edge: Tinker, tailor, soldier...goalkeeper?


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The Independent Online

I thought Roman Abramovich was an international man of mystery. You can't stop him talking at the moment.

That's because he has been taking the stand all week at the Commercial Court in London. The owner of Chelsea is accused of blackmail and breach of trust in relation to oil and aluminium shares. His rival Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, wants £6bn from him. And there is quite a saga of intrigue unfolding.

Has Roman been using Ray Wilkins to do his dirty work in darkest Siberia?

Not quite. But he has been accused of trying to sell Russian weapons to various interested parties around the world, including tanks at $4m apiece. He might have reflected that half a dozen of those would do a better job than the Chelsea defence at the moment, and much more cheaply.

How's his own defence proceeding?

He denied any arms dealing, then hit back by revealing that in 1998 he paid the ransom for the release of two British charity workers who had been held hostage in Chechenya for 14 months. It had always been believed that Berezovsky brokered the deal. This was one of Abramovich's earliest forays into the transfer market.

Big deal, he's not short of a bob or two.

He denied that his lifestyle was as lavish as it is depicted, but did admit: "I think that when I bought Chelsea Football Club, it did impact my way of life significantly. It was a turning point." That's when he realised that throwing money into a big black hole was fun. It all came out of big holes in the ground in the first place, after all.

Presumably in London he has the freedom to do what he likes.

You would think so, although he may have sweated a bit when Andrei Lugovoy's name cropped up. You may remember him as the prime suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. The British government wants to extradite him, but he stayed at home and submitted written evidence to the trial that Berezovsky ordered him to carry out surveillance on a meeting with Abramovich at Paris airport.

So what's all this about a goalkeeper?

It's nothing to do with Chelsea, but the former Polish goalie Jan Tomaszewski – whose heroics against England kept them out of the 1974 World Cup – has been accused of being a spy by Newsweek Polska. He was "a voluntary consultant" under the codename Alex, according to alleged secret police papers they have published from 1986.

So why is this coming out now?

Tomaszewski has recently become an MP for Poland's Law and Justice party, and plans to expose corruption linked to the country's preparations to host next year's European Championships.

And is it true that John Terry will be the baddie in the new Bond film?

Don't be silly. You mean Robbie Savage.

Attention all trophy wives

Two giant gates from the original Wembley stadium will be put up for auction by Sotheby's on Tuesday. The 15ft high barriers, dating from 1923, have proved too large to be put on display by the Brooking Trust, who apparently collect old windows and doors, and they are expected to fetch up to £10,000.

A more suitable adornment to your home might be Cambridge United's delightful trophy cabinet, which was put up for sale on eBay and went for £1,050 – though at one stage it was going for a couple of million. Sadly the trophies don't come with it, but then we're not sure there were any in the first place.

Five of nature’s streakers

A cow invaded the pitch as Potterspury took on Southcott in the North Bucks League last week; it relieved itself near the goal, then charged at the players.

Jimmy Greaves befriended a dog in England's World Cup quarter-final against Brazil in Chile in 1962, going down on all fours to catch it – though the dog urinated on him. Legend has it Brazil's Garrincha adopted the hound.

An owl held up a Euro 2008 qualifier between Finland and Belgium in Helsinki for six minutes, perching on one crossbar, then the other.

Australian cricketer John Inverarity was bowled for a duck by a ball which deviated after it hit and killed a sparrow at Adelaide. The umpire recalled him.

Manu Ginobili caught a bat during San Antonio Spurs' NBA game against Sacramento Kings...on Hallowe'en 2009.

A big hand for India (she doesn't need it)

India Roberts won a gold medal at the Karate World Cup in Germany last month – even though she had suffered a broken arm a week before. The 11-year-old from Lanjeth, Cornwall triumphed in the Under-12s kata category against doctor's orders after sustaining the break during training. As if the achievement was not already impressive enough, she only took up karate in February. And she has broken her arm three times during those eight months. So perhaps it's no surprise that she has now decided to take up taekwondo instead.

When waters brake

You would have thought that if anyone was going to get a pregnant woman to the hospital in time for the birth of her child, it would be a rally driver. But Sweden's Per Gunnar Andersson wasn't quite quick enough. The two-time junior world champion, now 31, was taking his wife Marie-Louise to hospital in Stockholm but they ran out of time and were forced to to pull over on to the hard shoulder of the motorway, where they were met by an ambulance. Their child was duly delivered, and his father said little Alvin was likely to follow in his footsteps: "He seems to have it in his genes."

Cocks can't wake up

A unique curfew has been imposed on Jonathan Cocks of Exeter. He has been told he must stay at home from 2pm on Sunday until midnight because he gets so drunk while watching live football in pubs that he is too hung over to turn up for his community service on Monday mornings.

Feeling the pinch

Mohammad Nosrati and Sheys Rezaei have been banned by Iranian officials for grabbing the backsides of their team-mates while celebrating a goal for Persepolis against Damash Gilan. Their behaviour was described as "immoral".