Alex KirklandESPN FC
Deportivo La Coruna have fired midfielder Juan Carlos Menudo after he attended the Copa del Rey final without permission on the same weekend that his club were playing a crucial league match.
El Pais reported that Menudo, a lifelong fan of Real Betis, allegedly told Deportivo on April 21 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be available for the Primera RFEF (the third tier of Spanish football) game at Talavera the following Sunday.
Two days later, Deportivo were surprised to discover that the 30-year-old was in his home city of Seville watching Betis beat Valencia on penalties in the Copa final to lift their first trophy in 17 years.
Depor confirmed on Friday that Menudo — a signing from Numancia last summer who wore the No. 10 shirt, but had only featured in 11 league games this season — had had his contract rescinded, but without giving a reason.
“After what happened, the club took a decision based on the values it believes must be respected,” manager Borja Jimenez said in a news conference. The player himself has made no comment.
Real Betis celebrate their success in the Copa del Rey. CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images
Spain’s latest COVID restrictions do not require self-isolation in the event of a positive test result. However, government guidelines do recommend avoiding attending crowded events — such as a cup final attended by 53,387 fans.
Depor, a sleeping giant who are currently chasing promotion from the third tier, had originally been due to play their match the day before the cup final. That would have allowed Menudo to be present at both, before a late change to the kick-off time saw the league game switched to Sunday morning.
Menudo isn’t the first footballer to be fired from his job in unusual circumstances. Here’s six others from recent memory.
Adil Rami opted to take part in a game show rather than training. Getty
Marseille sacked Adil Rami after the defender took part in a television game show in 2019 while he was supposedly recuperating from injury.
Rami, a former boyfriend of actress Pamela Anderson, reportedly missed a training session in May to take part in a celebrity episode of Fort Boyard. However, Marseille claim that the then-33-year-old didn’t have their permission to do so and terminated his contract.
Jordie van der Laan
After landing himself a ticket for Ajax’s Champions League semifinal against Tottenham in 2019, Van der Laan — who plays for Dutch second tier side SC Telstar — decided to throw a sickie.
Sadly, it all backfired when several people at the club spotted the 26-year-old striker in the crowd at Wembley and quickly realised that he’d lied about his whereabouts. His contract was then swiftly terminated on his return.
“[When I was spotted on television] my team’s group-chat exploded. They fell about laughing,” Van der Laan was quoted as telling the Volkskrant newspaper.
When it comes to dainty Panenka-style penalties, sometimes the reward just isn’t worth the risk. Just ask Parra, who was sacked by Venezuelan club Independiente de Campo Grande in 2019 when his dreadful spot kick saw them knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana.
“The board of directors decided to dismiss Parra for the way he kicked the penalty,” Independiente president Eriberto Gamarra said in the aftermath.
Jeffrey de Visscher
There’s no delicate way to say this: De Visscher was sacked by Dutch second division side FC Emmen in 2012 after the striker was arrested for defecating in the woods.
Apparently, De Visscher was found by police in an inebriated state, squatting by the side of his car in the middle of the night. He was apprehended at the scene and had his driving license taken away, then Emmen mulched his contract just a couple of months later.
Gunning was sacked by Dundee United in 2016 after a perplexing passage of play that saw the defender pick up the ball during an SPL match against Inverness and simply walk off the pitch with it.
In scenes still baffling to this day, Gunning wandered around aimlessly for a minute or two then ditched the ball, re-entered the field of play and proceeded to lie down “injured” on the turf.
Three days later, the Tangerines terminated his contract but only after the former Republic of Ireland under-21 international refused to both publicly apologise and leave the club of his own accord.
Aziz has only himself to blame over his sacking by Galatasaray. The defender excused himself from the Turkish side’s final fixture before their 2018 winter break (a league tie against Sivasspor on Dec. 23) complaining that he’d been struck down by an untimely case of diarrhoea.
However, mere days later, Aziz was rumbled by his own wife, who shared a photo of the player relaxing in the pool at a luxury holiday resort in the Maldives.
Initial reports suggested that Gala were so furious they sacked Aziz on the spot. However, it later came to light that he’d actually been transfer listed instead, as the club were keen to recoup a little money in the January window. He joined Fenerbahce later that same month.
Chris Wright contributed to this report.