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Football
When football players become the fans
Defeat in the Champions League did not get in the way of two Bayer Leverkusen players hunting down their idol's shirt.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2012 15:23
Bayer Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller has told Michal Kadlec to auction Messi's shirt [GALLO/GETTY] 

Two Bayer Leverkusen players will have to auction off Barcelona shirts they got from Lionel Messi in a 3-1 Champions League defeat on Tuesday after sports director Rudi Voeller said they were too enthusiastic in their quest for a souvenir.

Defender Michal Kadlec, who scored the Germans' only goal in their round of 16 first leg defeat, had sought the Argentine player's top at halftime but was beaten to it in the tunnel by fellow defender Manuel Friedrich.

Kadlec then got Messi's shirt at the end of the match, much to the irritation of Voeller.

Messi, the world footballer of the year, is having another spectacular season, scoring Barca's third goal on Tuesday to
make it 25 goals in his last 24 Champions League matches for the holders.

"I can guarantee you that these two players will auction off the tops for a good cause," Voeller told Bild newspaper on
Thursday.

"What they did was too much of a good thing. I have not yet spoken with them but I will do it," the 1990 World Cup winner said.

Leverkusen have only slim chances of advancing when they travel to Barcelona for the return leg on March 7.

Off the scrapheap

AC Milan's 4-0 victory over Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League saw the revival of a player whose shirts also have iconic status.

Robinho, widely considered an expensive failure when he left Man City 18 months ago, has successfully relaunched his career at Milan where he appears happy to accept a supporting role.

The Brazilian, whose two goals helped Milan thrash Arsenal, has not ended up on the scrapheap as he might have feared when he fell out of favour at City and returned to Brazil to play on loan for Santos.

"I'm happy for Robinho... The important thing is that he continues playing and scoring"

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic

He need only look at compatriot Adriano, once the so-called "Emperor" whose career has been in freefall since the 2006 World Cup and is now a bit-part player at Corinthians, to see what might have happened.

"I'm happy for Robinho," said Milan strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who set up both his goals either side of halftime.

"The important thing is that he continues playing and scoring.

"Now the coach has more options on the pitch. When you have a few negative results, you get the right kind of anger needed to do better."

Ibrahimovic is very much the main man at Milan while Robinho, 28 and a veteran of two World Cups, has found himself
competing with fellow Brazilian Alexandre Pato for the right to partner the volatile Swede in attack.

In the past, that situation might have provoked tantrums but coach Massimiliano Allegri appears to have convinced Robinho to accept his lot.

It is an odd turnaround for a player who was likened to Pele when he burst onto the scene with Santos as an 18-year-old and was quickly dubbed "the King of the Stepovers".

Source:
Agencies
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