11 of the funniest ball boy barneys: time wasters, scorers and assault victims

Eden Hazard ball boy

Adelaide United's Michael Marrone is the latest player to see red (quite literally) – but it's just the latest flashpoint involving football’s little ‘helpers', explains Louis Massarella

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1. Occupational Hazard

Joe Hart, Yohan Cabaye and El Hadji Diouf have all had run-ins with ballboys, but the most famous of recent vintage involved Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Trying to retrieve the ball quickly as the Blues trailed in a 2013 League Cup semi-final against Swansea, the Belgian was faced with the self-titled ‘king of all ball boys’ (#timewasting), Charlie Morgan, who promptly laid down on said sphere.

The brilliant Belgian tried to pull the ball out from under the 17-year-old and, when that failed, took ‘boy and ball’ with his foot. Hazard was red carded and, despite a grumbling apology after the game, was suspended by the FA, as the likes of Joey Barton, Harry Redknapp and, er, Hulk Hogan waded into the argument – on the player’s side.

2. Desperate Dan shows his studs

Daniel Passarella was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “Italy’s greatest villain since Puccini concocted the evil character of Scarpia in [the opera] Tosca” after he – depending on which report you read – “struck”, “kicked” or “went in with his studs” on a Sampdoria ball boy while playing for Inter in March 1987.

Despite apologising publicly to the 16-year-old and his father, Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning captain was given a six-week ban and fined $3,500, which the club kindly donated to the boy’s college fund.


Passarella lifts the World Cup as Argentina captain

3. Guarany’s 12th man

To Brazil now, and the little-known Campeonato Sergipano in 2012. Trailing 1-0 as injury time approached, Guarany threw everybody forward for a corner, including their keeper, in search of an equaliser. But it came to nothing and Sergipe broke clear, seeming certain to double their lead as the ball headed into the bottom corner.

Waiting there, though – and we mean waiting there, it’s not like he even ran onto the pitch in the heat of the moment – was a Guarany ball boy, unmissable in fluorescent orange, who casually side-footed the ball to safety. He quickly scarpered amid the ensuing melee, but justice was done as Sergipe held on to their lead.

4. From assist queen to centrefold

Not all ball boys – or girls – have to bend the rules to help their team. Just ask Fernanda Maia. With her team, Botafogo, on the attack against fellow Rio big boys Vasco da Gama in 2012, the quick-thinking 22-year-old (don’t ask us why they have ball girls that old in Brazil) threw a ball straight into the arms of winger Elkeson so he didn’t even have to break stride, giving Vasco, who had just cleared into Row Z, no time to get back.

A quick throw-in and cross later, Botafogo had scored the winner. After taking the praise and the plaudits, Maia did what every self-respecting ball girl would do: milked the publicity, posing for Playboy Brasil.

5. Seeing is believing

“I should have trusted my own vision,” said Silvia Regina de Oliveira after she was at the centre of perhaps the most bizarre incident involving a ball boy ever. After watching a Santacruzense effort go well wide, Oliveira – the first female to referee in Brazil’s top flight – turned her back awaiting an Atletico Sorocaba goal-kick.

In the meantime, the ball boy behind the goal jokingly dribbled the ball into the net. ‘Oh, it must have gone in,’ thought the whistleblower as she turned back. After consulting her linesman, who had clearly nodded off as well, a goal was given, and the game finished 1-1. Both officials were suspended and sent to Specsavers.

6. In your face, Gaston

Staying in South America and a good, old-fashioned piece of unprovoked violence from mulleted maniac Gaston Sessa, who just for kicks it seems, decided to boot a size 5 straight into a ball boy’s face from point-blank range during an Argentine second division game in 2012.

Manfully, the dazed youth stayed on his feet for several seconds before crumpling into a heap. Despite being sent off, the cranky keeper was unrepentant at the final whistle, telling reporters: “When he’s got three million in the bank, then he can talk to me.” The ball boy in question, Franco Vazquez, was sold by Belgrano to Palermo later that year for €5 million and made his full Italy debut against England in March. Shall we pass on your number, Gaston?