While AS Monaco FC were celebrating reaching the UEFA Champions League final last week after their 2-2 draw at Chelsea FC, the real hero of the day was several hundred kilometres away in France. Winger Jérôme Rothen set up both goals for Didier Deschamps' side, but he would not have been on the pitch but for a bizarre treatment devised by France's national team physio Philippe Boixel. Rothen had been thought unlikely to play in the game after leaving the field after Monaco's previous match complaining of severe back and knee pains. However, a phone call to Boixel elicited a miracle cure - removing the pearl earring that the player usually wears. "It's crazy," Rothen said. "Everyone think I'm nuts. And I did not believe it could work." With a deep understanding of homeopathic medicine, the physio concluded that the earring was altering the balance in Rothen's body and causing him to suffer pain. "Philippe explained it was a question of waves and that there was a link with a tooth," said Rothen, who like most uefa.com users, is still a little bewildered by this medical miracle.
Coffin fit for Madrid
From the peculiar to the downright macabre: Valencia CF left-back Amedeo Carboni and his wife Giacinta celebrated the club's Spanish title win this week by tormenting their Real Madrid CF-supporting caretaker with a bizarre gift. On returning to work after lunch on Monday, janitor José Pozo opened the door to his storeroom to find Giacinta Carboni and about 20 neighbours from their apartment block holding candles around a coffin. When Pozo pulled back the lid, he found a dozen dolls dressed in Madrid kits. Ghoulish as this might sound, it was all in good humour as Carboni and Pozo have long been antagonising each other about their footballing affiliations. His friendship with the Carbonis has even softened Pozo's feelings towards six-time Spanish champions Valencia. A few months back, after a rare Valencia defeat, Amedeo Carboni returned home to find Pozo kitted out in a black mourning suit. As he received his unusual end-of-season gift on Monday after seeing Madrid denied the title, at least he had something to feel genuinely sorry about.
Numbers up for Bulgarian ref
In Bulgaria, Premier League referee Hristo Ristoskov has been celebrating winning the state lottery in April. The fortunate official was one of three punters to claim €45,000 with lucky numbers five, 14, 15, 16, 25 and 35. "I have been taking part in the Bulgarian state lottery every week with those numbers for almost ten years," he said. "On that day luck was on my side. I wish everyone could have such a moment." Luck has not been on the Leeds United AFC players' side since they were relegated from the English Premiership, and things may have got worse with the launch of a new kit for next season which will expose players who are not putting in enough effort. A shoulder patch on the Diadora-manufactured strip will change colour according to the players' body temperature - a sure-fire indication of how hard they are trying. "We're confident we have a winning design for what will hopefully be a winning team," said Leeds managing director David Richmond. And if they do not end up being winners, at least supporters and coaches will know who is not pulling their weight at Elland Road.
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