10 times footballers went AWOL (featuring paintballing, weddings and grandmas)
1. Frenchy misses bus
French briefly reappeared in a Luton shirt upon his release, before disappearing again
“Where’s Frenchy?” asked perplexed Luton Town players as the Hatters’ team coach departed without their mercurial winger for an away game in 1970. Cult hero Graham French had scarpered after discovering that police wanted a chat in connection with an incident involving a gun in a pub. Finally apprehended in nearby Bedford, ‘Frenchy’ enjoyed two years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
He briefly reappeared in a Luton shirt upon his release, before disappearing again. Actually, he’d signed for NASL side the Boston Minutemen, which some would say amounts to the same thing.
2. Jorge goes to the dogs
After signing for Celtic in April 1996, maverick Portuguese striker Jorge Cadete hit 30 goals in 37 games, making himself a Parkhead darling. But after his Lisbon-based missus insisted that the health of their dogs was suffering the following summer, Cadete failed to show for pre-season training and disappeared back to Portugal sharpish. “I think he was even more bonkers than me,” said ex-Celtic wildman Paolo Di Canio. Quite the endorsement.
3. Hassan gets cold feet
The love rat slunk back into training after a week in the shadows, and was eventually forgiven
After jilting his would-be model bride Norlida with a last-minute text in 2004, and leaving her to face 1,000 guests at their wedding reception alone, Hasmawi Hassan – a forward with Malaysian outfit Kedah State – refused to turn up to training to face the wrath of his team-mates.
With the state’s FA claiming that “Hasmawi has tarnished the image of the game in this country”, the love rat slunk back into training after a week in the shadows and was eventually forgiven – but not by his ex, who didn’t buy Hassan’s claim he’d been possessed by black magic and tried to sue him.
4. “Has anyone seen my inner beauty?”
After retiring from football in 1981, Argentine midfielder Omar Larrosa fell out of sight for almost a decade. The 1978 World Cup winner was even rumoured to have been murdered by gangsters. Yet in the late ’80s, he reappeared. “I’ve been wandering the mountains for 10 years, trying to discover my soul and my inner beauty,” he hurrahed. Deep and meaningless.
5. Coping without Eder
I hid because I wanted the world to see that Brazil couldn’t cope without Eder
Axed from Tele Santana’s 1986 World Cup squad because of his love for partying, Brazil winger Eder – who admitted to being “utterly depressed at my exclusion” – disappeared, prompting fears that he’d committed suicide. After the local press lambasted Santana for Eder’s omission, he reappeared after a week underground.
“I hid because I wanted the world to see that Brazil couldn’t cope without Eder,” squealed the pompous Barry Manilow lookalike. Judging by their quarter-final exit, maybe he was right.