Thanks to Eden HazardÃ¢ÂÂs trigger-happy toes, footballÃ¢ÂÂs young ferriers are in the news. FFT's Andrew Murray investigates what happens when ballboys become the story...
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs not Serey clever
Unhappy at one particular upstartÃ¢ÂÂs delaying tactics to undermine SionÃ¢ÂÂs attempts to overturn a 1-0 reverse at Lausanne in May 2012, Geoffrey Serey went on the attack. With an open handed slap usually the preserve of [consults Big Book of Wrestlers] Hulk Hogan, the defensive midfielderÃ¢ÂÂs clip copped for an eight-game ban.
BocaÃ¢ÂÂs butcherAfter punching the odd opponent, referee and coach in his somewhat forceful career, Boca Unidos keeper Gaston Sessa completed the set in October 2012. On the receiving end of a 3-0 reverse at Independiente Rivadavia, the veteran stopper whelped a ball straight back at the unsuspecting ballboy.
Sent-off immediately, the man dubbed the Butcher by the Argentine press spent a night in the cells for his trouble. After his release, Sessa attacked an Independiente fan outside the police station for having the temerity to talk to him. Nice guy.
The EmperorÃ¢ÂÂs new grooveGenerously proportioned one-time footballer Adriano was never blessed with a particularly tight turning circle, so spare a thought for this poor ballboy, who felt the full force of the then Corinthians striker in June 2012.
One of just seven appearances the former Inter Milan forward made for the Paulista club, the Emperor used a well-positioned ballboy as a buffer between him and the running track. Or a plate of sausage meat.
Ã¢ÂÂGet it clear, sonÃ¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs the last minute of a league decider, your goalkeeperÃ¢ÂÂs stranded up the field and the oppositionÃ¢ÂÂs star striker is clean through. What do you do?
Sneak onto the pitch, hack said goal-bound shot clear and run for the hills, obviously.
Inspired by such ingenuity, intrepid substitute Mauricio Arias Gomez sprang from his warm up to do likewise in ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs Liga Belvillense semi-finals.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂd seen the Brazilian lad on TV,Ã¢ÂÂ said the unrepentant San Martin de Marcos Juarez defender with the sort of save his beaten goalkeeper could only dream. Ã¢ÂÂAll I knew was the ball mustnÃ¢ÂÂt go in. It was instinct.Ã¢ÂÂ
The ballboy assistA collection of home help now, from across the world. First, Hapoel Haifa ballboy Ofek MizrachiÃ¢ÂÂs quick thinking against Bnei Lod in the Israeli second division in March 2009.
Next, weÃ¢ÂÂre off to Spain and Diego Torres, an Atletico Madrid youth-teamer flings a fresh ball to Arda Turan, who in turn throws to Falcao to thunder the third in a 6-0 shellacking of Deportivo La Coruna. Rojiblanco coach Diego Simeone thanked Torres personally after the game.
Best of all, though, is Brazilian 22-year-old Fernanda Maia. The Botafogo ballgirl refurnished Sebastian Ã¢ÂÂel LocoÃ¢ÂÂ Abreu with a new ball, as the Great Fire flew up the wing to register the third in a 3-1 win that secured the 2012 Rio de Janeiro state championship.
Ã¢ÂÂI did what I always did,Ã¢ÂÂ said Maia. Ã¢ÂÂBut I didnÃ¢ÂÂt score the goal, Maicousel did.Ã¢ÂÂ She did, however, score a Playboy photoshoot.
Ã¢ÂÂWhat a finish from the youngsterÃ¢ÂÂAll these assists are all well and good, you may be thinking, but surely no ballboy has ever scored a goal? Wrong!
In the Sao Paulo Cup, Santacruzense snatched a 1-1 home draw against Atletico Sorocaba thanks to an 89th-minute moment of inspiration. A Santacruzense player shoots narrowly wide, so the lad behind the goal gets another ball and rolls it into an unguarded net. Somehow, referee Silvia Regina de Oliveira gave the goal on his linesmanÃ¢ÂÂs advice.
Ã¢ÂÂI should have trusted my own vision,Ã¢ÂÂ wailed the perplexed referee, who was suspended for one game.
Ã¢ÂÂYou canÃ¢ÂÂt do that to our ballboyÃ¢ÂÂTheyÃ¢ÂÂre a protective bunch, the Greeks. When PAOKÃ¢ÂÂs pitchside helper attempted to retrieve the ball for a Panionios corner in December 2007, he got a brusque shove for his troubles from curt winger Dario Fernandez. Cue much pushing and shoving from all those in the box, and a veritable hailstorm of bottles launched from the crowd.
SpursÃ¢ÂÂ best ballboyÃ¢ÂÂ¦ literallyAnorthosis Famagusta player approaches wag youngster. Motions for ball to be thrown his way. Spurs ballboy obliges. To his balls. Simple.
Bovvered...Finally, if youÃ¢ÂÂre going to be a ballboy, at least look like youÃ¢ÂÂre interested.
Additional research: Christopher OÃ¢ÂÂCallaghan