World Cup 98: Diary

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The Independent Online
A ROMANIAN fan is spending four hours a day with his head immersed in the bath praying to God to help his country win the World Cup in a unique attempt to mix water divining with divine intervention. Ioan Moldovan, not thought to be related to the Coventry striker who began the unravelling of England's defences in Toulouse last week, had by all accounts been a model family man until two weeks ago when something strange overtook him with the start of the World Cup. The 44-year-old engineer has subsequently told psychiatrists he is Romania's only "human amphibian", while his wife, Adriana, has called for the authorities to cut the water supply to the family home to bring him to his senses. "Better to die of thirst and go unwashed than to continue seeing my husband every morning in the water and believing that Romania will win the World Cup," she said. "I've come to hate football. I want my husband back the way he was."

THE CHELSEA player-manager, Gianluca Vialli, is hoping the World Cup throws up a penalty miss to rid him of the dubious distinction of being the last to fail (disregarding shoot-outs) from 12 yards at the World Cup Since his miss for Italy against the United States in 1990, 38 penalties awarded in the finals - including 13 this time round - have all been converted. The last goalkeeper to save a penalty was Tony Meola of the United States, who in 1990 caught a soft shot from Michal Bilek in the match against Czechoslovakia, though his side lost 5-1 and Bilek scored an earlier penalty.

JAMIE REDKNAPP, who was ruled out of Glenn Hoddle's 22-man squad through injury, has escaped the frenzy over England's game with Argentina tomorrow to holiday in Bermuda with his girlfriend, the singer Louise. It's a move which has led to speculation on the honeymoon island that the pair were poised to beat David Beckham and Posh Spice and make a permanent alliance between football and show business. Jamie's brother, who is in the holidaying party, denies that a wedding is in the offing, but if it happens you know where you read it first .