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10 of football's maddest medicals: starring teething trouble and too much sex

Ravel Morrison Birmingham medical

1. Ravel a bit wrong in the tooth

Former Manchester United prodigy Ravel Morrison has been labelled ‘temperamental’, ‘chaotic’ and ‘bizarre’ during his short career. Just don’t call him ‘toothy’. Before passing a medical to join Birmingham on loan in 2012, the then-West Ham midfielder needed emergency treatment to have seven gnashers removed after complaining of toothache during the Hammers’ pre-season tour of Germany. His teeth were reportedly in such bad condition that he was advised to have dental implants costing £28,000. 

2. Frank shows the ladies his worth

Notorious shagger Frank Worthington’s aborted move from Huddersfield to Liverpool in 1972 is the stuff of legend. After failing his medical due to high blood pressure apparently caused by having too much sex, Worthington was sent to ‘calm down’ in Majorca, where he continued to enjoy “the fruits of being young” – namely (in no particular order): Miss Great Britain, a Swedish mother and daughter, and an unnamed Belgian beauty. He returned, failed the medical again, and joined Leicester instead.

3. Fourth time lucky for Hartson

“There is the possibility that the medical might not go well,” said Rangers chairman David Murray, fearing the worst as John Hartson prepared for his once-over ahead of an expected move to the Glasgow giants in 2000. Big John, who had already failed medicals at Spurs and Charlton, again failed to muster a pass, but a year later joined Celtic where he was a huge success. “The best medical I’ve ever failed,” said the Welshman. ‘Gers fans might not agree.

4. Hinchcliffe told: you’re not hired

Even when he was plain old Alan Sugar, the Apprentice star was known for his ruthlessness – just ask Andy Hinchcliffe. The England left-back was on the verge of a £3 million move from Everton to Tottenham in January 1998, when Spurs chairman Sugar reportedly stepped in to stop hapless gaffer Christian Gross from mis-spending any more of his money (although the official line was that Hinchcliffe failed his medical because of a dodgy Achilles).

Rumour has it Spurs even sent Hinchcliffe the bill for the medical. Sugar eventually filled the left-back void with the signing of Paolo Tramezzani, who is now manager of Swiss top-flight side Lugano.

Next: PC 'Arry strikes again

5. Kamel gets the hump with turncoat Rovers

After a tasty season with Celta Vigo, Algerian hotshot Kamel Ghilas was all set for his dream move to, er, Blackburn in 2009, when Rovers apparently had a last-minute change of heart. Cue claim and counter-claim. The Lancastrian club said Ghilas failed his medical; Celta Vigo claimed Rovers tried to renegotiate his fee and wages at the 11th hour. A vexed Vigo even fielded the striker in a friendly the following day to prove he was fit.

A form of poetic justice was eventually done when Ghilas – on loan from Hull – fired Stade Reims into the French top flight in 2011/12, while Blackburn were relegated. Take that!

6. Abou’s Bantams move off amid suggestions of cannibalism

“The lad went home to the Ivory Coast and got a bit of food poisoning. He must have eaten a dodgy missionary or something.”

Harry Redknapp at his PC best, talking as West Ham manager in 1998 after Samassi Abou’s record move to Bradford City was aborted as the striker returned with a dicky tummy and failed his medical. In fact, it turned out to be malaria. Same difference, right ’Arry?

7. Asa doesn’t have the Hart to join Leeds

There was nothing simple about West Brom and Scotland midfielder Asa Hartford’s move to Don Revie’s mighty Leeds in the 1971. The deal was already done when the results of a medical revealed Hartford had a potentially career-threatening hole in his heart. Fat chance – the super-fit Scot went on to play until he was 41. “It was literally a pinhole,” he explained, “but I ended up playing 800 games so it wasn’t that bad!”

Next: That time Pompey nearly signe Thiago Motta

8. Crocked Motta plays up at Pompey 

There was a time when life wasn't so easy for Thiago Motta. Back in 2008, the former Barcelona midfield powerhouse was between clubs after Atletico Madrid withdrew their offer of a new contract following a troubled season in the treatment room. Wily Uncle 'Arry was on hand to offer the then-26-year-old a fresh start at bank-busting Portsmouth, however, only for Motta to fail a medical at Fratton Park thanks to his dicky knee.

He failed at Racing Santander too, and started the next season without a club. Genoa took him on in September where he excelled, joined Inter, won the Champions League (among other things) and became an Italy regular. You'll currently find him lifting more silverware at PSG.  

9. Three's a charm for Ruud

It took a year of waiting and three medicals, but Ruud van Nistelrooy's transfer to Manchester United was probably worth the wait. Sir Alex Ferguson had been set to land the free-scoring PSV hitman for £18.5m in summer 2000, when a press conference was called to welcome the Reds' new man. Instead, though, the press were told that the move had been held up due to worries about the Dutchman's fitness. 

Days later he ruptured cruciate ligaments in training and the deal was held off for a year, but not before he failed another medical test a month before his eventual signing. “No one need worry at Old Trafford,” purred Van Nistelrooy. “I will work on my fitness in Eindhoven and go back to Manchester in perfect shape.” Five seasons and 150 goals in 219 games later, things turned out just fine. 

10. Gillespie puts his ankle in, puts his ankle out

Another ‘done deal’ was Keith Gillespie’s move from Newcastle to Middlesbrough in 1998. The Northern Irish winger turned up at the Riverside for a pre-season tournament expecting to be unveiled, with manager Bryan Robson even hailing the signing in a press release. Cue embarrassed back-tracking straight after the final whistle when Gillespie’s dodgy ankle was revealed.

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