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Thursday, April 7, 2011
Neymar sent off for being Neymar

Dominic Raynor

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories. This week, Neymar is sent off for wearing a mask of himself, Paul the Octopus is immortalised in Germany, red-carded Rapid Bucharest boss Marius Sumudica smooches with the referee, Joey Barton's words of wisdom and the Japanese Lionel Messi. Neymar sent off for wearing a Neymar mask Bizarrely-bouffanted Brazilian wunderkind Neymar scored a brilliant goal and threw an equally brilliant tantrum after being sent off for celebrating by donning a mask of his own face this week. The swaggering 19-year-old chipped two defenders and flummoxed the goalkeeper to put Santos 3-0 up in their Copa Libertadores group game with Colo Colo and then picked up a discarded mask of himself to indulge in an equally flamboyant celebration. Even though Neymar managed to put the false face on upside down , Uruguayan referee Roberto Silvera was not amused and produced a second yellow card for an illegal celebration. Cue tantrum. But Neymar soon had some equally disgruntled company as card-happy Silvera sent off a further four players. Santos, who clung on for a 3-2 win, ended the game with eight men and Chilean side Colo Colo were reduced to nine. Barton's hare-sh words for "tortoise" Barry Remember Joey Barton's delightfully accurate slagging of the England team after World Cup 2006: "I played like s**t. Here's my book"? Well the prickly scouser has been speaking his mind once again and this time he's delivered a damning verdict on England "tortoise" Gareth Barry." Asked by French magazine So Foot who he thought was the best English midfielder in the Premier League Barton said: "Honestly, I think I'm the best. Luka Modric and Samir Nasri are very good, but in terms of English players ... well, Jack Wilshere isn't bad, but Frank Lampard's on the way down and Steven Gerrard's been injured a lot." Barton then rounded on Barry. "Did you see the game against Germany at the World Cup? If you watch the fourth goal, when Mesut Ozil was up against Barry, it was like the hare and the tortoise!" When asked for the reason behind Barry's success, Barton replied: "Barry's got a very good agent. He's also discreet and always agrees with the manager. He's like the guy who sits in the front row and listens to the teacher. I certainly don't lose any sleep when I play against him." Red-carded Bucharest boss kisses referee Rapid Bucharest manager Marius Sumudica was so overcome with joy when his side fought back to take the lead against Gaz Matan, their closest rivals for a European place next season, that he lost the plot and went nuts. After running around the pitch like a crazed fan he raced towards his own supporters and slid across the turf on his knees in celebration as his team made it 2-1. Unsurprisingly, the referee didn't take too kindly to Sumudica's impromptu celebration and sent him to the stands for the rest of the match. But heady with joy, Sumudica just didn't care. Instead of getting angry he grabbed the referee's face, puckered up and planted a big wet kiss on his cheek before marching off the pitch. Paul the Octopus memorial unveiled in Germany He may have gone to a watery grave, or possibly a Mediterranean restaurant, but Paul the Octopus is not forgotten. The psychic cephalopod, who correctly predicted the results of matches at the 2010 World Cup, has been immortalised by a monument at his former home. Such was the impact of his predictions during his all-too-short time amongst us that he was threatened with being "turned into a seafood salad or paella" by one group of disgruntled supporters and even had his prophecies faked on video by another set of fearful fans. Paul became a global star in the summer and his owners at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, have unveiled a large tribute that depicts the octopus dangling his tentacles over a football which is patterned with different national flags. The statue is part of a new exhibition, Octopus Garden, named after the Beatles' song. Paul predicted the outcome of eight World Cup matches, including the final, by choosing mussels from boxes with the flags of national teams on. He was found dead in his tank in October 2010. Getting the Fakts right The Poland national team have broken off all ties with Polish tabloid Fakt after the newspaper ran a story alleging six players partied with "four hired ladies" two days before losing to Lithuania, while the rest of the squad were visiting an orphanage in Poznan. The initial story, which the team quickly dismissed as completely fabricated, hit the headlines last week but the row rumbles on with White Eagles manger Franciszek Smuda insisting: "We explicitly declare this is a lie." Fakt claim that an "outraged informant" told them of a bunga bunga-style party "made famous by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi" in a luxury hotel in Poznan as the squad prepared to face Lithuania. The allegations, which were published after the match, noted that the Polish players "clearly lacked strength" during the 2-0 defeat at the Zalgiris Stadium, and claimed that the six players were "exhausted from frolicking with young women of loose morals".
Video of the week Francisco Javier Garcia Pimienta, the coach of the Barcelona cadets, posted this clip of an unnamed nine-year-old kid, already nicknamed the 'Japanese Lionel Messi', on Twitter and it has taken the internet by storm. He does have some incredible skills for his age but does he ever pass? Click here to see the 'Japanese Lionel Messi'
More than words...

AC Milan supporters display a giant banner representing Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' and reading "Inter Milan's Judas", a reference to former Rossoneri boss Leonardo ©Getty Images

Around the web • Porto celebrate title in dark at stadium of light • St Pauli match abandoned after linesman hit with a cup of beer • Sunderland fan hit by stray football sues club • AEK supporters force players to take taxis

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