11 awful excuses to rival Joleon Lescott's

After the Aston Villa stopper "accidentally" tweeted a picture of a super car following his side's 6-0 drubbing against Liverpool, FFT's Andrew Murray looks back at football's other poor excuses for excuses...

Oh, Joleon. As if Aston Villa losing 6-0 to Liverpool wasn't bad enough, the experienced stopper duly made it worse by tweeting a picture of a flash Mercedes post-match. 

After apologising to Villa fans for the team's latest hapless display, Lescott added an apology for his ill-advised motor posting. "I would like to add that the tweet sent out from my account involving a picture of a car was totally accidental it happened whilst I was driving and my phone was in my pocket."

Those pesky gremlins have nailed the four-step process to tweeting...

1. Vashchuk goes hopping mad

There was only one logical explanation for Ukraine’s 4-0 defeat to Spain in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. “Because of the frogs’ croaking,” squealed defender Vladislav Vashchuk after a restless night at the Seminaris Seehotel in Potsdam, “we hardly got a wink of sleep.”

“There are also birds near our lake,” huffed a disgruntled hotel spokeswoman. “In the morning they wake up and start cheeping. Should we go and catch all the birds?” Well played.

Ukraine, 2006


2. Brolin's flying visit

Tomas Brolin had bird woes of his own. On his way to catch a Yorkshire-bound flight for the start of Leeds’ pre-season in June 1997, the heavy-set playmaker’s car hit a feathered foe, breaking his windscreen and leaving him too distraught to go any further (and denying rumours he ate it). Pictures of the damage – first thought to be the work of an elk – surfaced in the Swedish press, while a fuming George Graham left him out of the official team photo.

3. Rupert’s Lowe blow

When you’re the chairman of a football club, hiring and firing employees is your responsibility, right? Not if you’re former Southampton chief Rupert Lowe, who blamed “a constant stream of negative and unfair media coverage” for his own decision to usher manager Paul Sturrock to the exit two games into the 2004/05 season.

“Those people responsible for perpetrating this unsatisfactory situation should take a long hard look at themselves,” harrumphed the mirror-less Lowe.

Rupert Lowe

Rupert Lowe - man of the people

4. Mooney rubs in the bald truth

Ex-Rotherham keeper Chris Mooney’s rationalisation for letting a shot trickle between his legs has gone down in Millers folklore. A common complaint of the follicly challenged Mooney claimed he was blinded by the sun reflecting off the bald bonce of centre-half Nick Smith. Robert Huth never has this problem...

5. King Kenny’s over-inflated balls

After labouring to a 1-1 draw at Stevenage in the third round of the FA Cup, Newcastle boss Kenny Dalglish explained why Alan Shearer et al had failed to beat a non-league side whose on-loan centre-forward Giuliano Grazioli was allegedly recruited for three packets of crisps and a Mars bar. “The balls were too bouncy” remains a triumphant moment for self-denial.

Kenny Dalglish

"Oi, you - put that pump away!"

6. "You wouldn’t tackle a man in glasses..."

Scoring the winner in the 1970 Intercontinental Cup Final was bespectacled Feyenoord defender Joop van Daele’s finest moment, but it came at a cost: Estudiantes’s Oscar Malbernat stamped Van Daele’s glasses to bits. Malbernat’s excuse for this show of petulance? “You shouldn’t play football in glasses – not in South America.” Oh.

7. Fergie’s squeaky bum time

Acquitted of driving illegally down the hard shoulder in 1999, Sir Alex Ferguson claimed his actions were an “emergency” because he was suffering from acute diarrhoea. “When I got on the M602 I started to feel the cramps again,” wailed the Manchester United boss in court (that’s cramps, with an ‘m’). Well, it’s more passable as an excuse than ‘invisible’ grey kits.

Alex Ferguson

"I'd leave it a minute..."

8. Shh! Genius at work

The closest the sleepy London suburb of Sutton has got to a commotion, apart from the odd episode of The Bill, was that famous 1989 FA Cup win over top-flight Coventry. The fans made a racket that day – yet when Sutton United striker Adrian Bradnam missed a sitter in a different match, he blamed the fans for being too noisy. Spoilsport.

9. Casper the overfriendly ghost

I made up the poltergeist, I didn’t want my wife to find out I was partying with some fitties

- Carlos Flores

If you’re going to lie about cheating on your missus, make a better fist of it than Peruvian top-flight pair Carlos Flores and Jose Carranza. The latter, a midfielder for Universitario, claimed he was abducted in 2003, while his wife Carmen was seven months pregnant, but had actually been with cheerleader Shirley Cherres (“It looked like he enjoyed his kidnapping to me,” cheered Cherres).

Six years later, CNI midfielder Flores was found tired, emotional, bleeding and naked in the street, claiming he was being chased by a ghost. He later admitted: “I made up the poltergeist, I didn’t want my wife to find out I was partying with some fitties.” Dignity saved...

Francesco Totti

"Isn't it more stylish not to wear socks at all these days...?"

10. “The thread of the socks is too rough”

In football, feet are important – there's no denying that. But Italy’s unhappy players took things a bit far following an insipid Euro 2004 goalless draw with Denmark in 34-degree heat. “It was like having your feet on boiling sand,” wailed Francesco Totti, while Christian Panucci complained: “The thread of the socks is too rough.”

Trust Alessandro Nesta to be sensible: “They’re going to take us for being ridiculous,” he said. “Totti is so good he could play barefoot.” Just not in the desert, apparently.

11. Too famous to be banned

The people of Stoke-on-Trent could suffer if Mr Pulis lost his licence and lost his job

- Pulis lawyer

In February 2015, Robbie Savage was clocked doing 99mph in his Bentley driving home from an Alan Shearer charity bash. Savage claimed he just wanted to get home to see his two sons, which is fair enough, but managed to avoid a ban by scarpering with six points and a £600 fine after his lawyer claimed the former Leicester midfielder was "regularly accosted in public" so couldn't use alternative transport. 

But Savage isn't alone here. Three years earlier, then-Stoke boss Tony Pulis managed the same feat when he was caught motoring at 96mph on a 60mph road. It took the cap-donning Baggies boss up to 15 points on his licence but he escaped a ban and was fined £2,585 instead. Why? Wait for it: Pulis argued he couldn't use a chaffeur because his telephone conversations needed to remain private.

Tony Pulis

Signing Peter Crouch spared Pulis a ban

“There are numerous phone calls every day between Mr Pulis and the chairman which are totally confidential,” argued Pulis's lawyer. “That has contributed to the success of the football club. As a result of being in the Premier League it has put Stoke-on-Trent on the map.
“It has led to numerous businesses being set up. A number of them are totally reliant on Stoke City, and those businesses would suffer if they were relegated. The people of Stoke-on-Trent could suffer if Mr Pulis lost his licence and lost his job.”


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