Motor racing: Schumacher's football debut

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The Independent Online
Motor racing

The old story about the football team being so short of players that their coach driver had to turn out has been given a new twist.

In their drive to raise funds for a new strip, a Swiss Third Division football club might have thought they were pushing their luck asking Michael Schumacher's manager for a donation, but they got more than they bargained for. Rather than money, they picked up a new player.

Schumacher, who naturally fancies himself up front, asked Aubonne for a game and the former Formula One world champion made his debut leading the attack on Sunday.

Despite this efforts to drive them on in the first half, their new centre- forward had to endure a rare taste of defeat. Aubonne, apparently the Minardi of Alpine football, went down 6-1 to Genolier-Begnins. Schumacher, who no doubt will be nicknamed Prancing Horse, ran out of fuel at half- distance.

"His attitude was very good," Aubonne's coach, Michael von Tobler, told the daily Le Matin. "But it's difficult to judge his ability after just one half." He had only trained three times, von Tobler said, and "does not know the other players very well yet." Like his rivals on the grand prix circuit, they will probably recognise him best from behind.

Aubonne hope Schumacher, who lives near Lake Geneva, will be able to play for them every other Sunday, but his employers at Ferrari might not be too keen on their world title contender risking being injured.