Guns don't hurt work experience boys, left-backs do

When I was first told on Sunday that Ashley Cole had been caught making another man's bottom bleed, I have to say that I wasn't entirely surprised; then I realised that I'd got the wrong end of the stick, and it was actually an air-rifle that had caused the damage. A delve into the annuls of history however reveal that Cole isn't the only footballer to have caused trouble with their loaded weapon. (I can't promise that will be the last of the nob jokes).

Diego Maradona

'El Diego in being absolutely stark-raving mental shock' probably wasn't a headline at the time, but it's really the only way of describing this story. In February 1994, five months before his drug-shame at the World Cup, Maradona was caught outside his Buenos Aires home firing bullets at gathering journalists. TV footage of the incident showed Maradona crouched behind a Mercedes with two other men. Four years later, he received a two year suspended sentence, "At least this exemplary case does show that there is justice for all," explained Daniel Talemoni, one of the four journalists injured by Maradona.

Darren Bent

The England striker received a caution back in 2004 after a 12-year-old boy was shot in the back with a pellet gun. Bent, who was an Ipswich player at the time, was released without charge. A police spokeswoman said: "He has been given a formal caution in respect of his actions." Even back then, he was dealing in shots on target.

Javier Florez

The Colombian midfielder got slightly carried away when his Atletico Junior team lost to Once Caldas in 2009. Driving away after the match, the south American shot into a group of Junior supporters who were chanting "weak, weak, weak" at him. One man was killed in the incident. Florez said that he had been "drunk and angry" when the shooting happened, before adding: "He really upset me, but I repent it with all my heart. I just hope people know how much I've suffered". He was released on a £450,000 bail and subsequently sentenced to three years' probation.

John Oster

The Sunderland player shot a member of the clubs' reserve team with a pellet gun back in 2002. Mark Maley - the reserve player in question - had his career tragically cut short because of the incident. After an out-of-court settlement was reached, Oster had this to say:
"The air rifle was just a freak incident. We were larking about in my flat on a Sunday morning and I thought the safety catch was on. It went off and it hit him in the eye. It was strange to say the least because it didn't fire straight at the best of times. I thought he was messing about and then I realised his eye was bloodshot.

"I haven't spoken to him for a while. I had a claim against me which has just gone through, so I have had to go through the process of using solicitors because he sued me; that had been going on for a few years. We settled out of court which we have just agreed. We were mates, it was a complete accident and he's not in any way bitter towards me, but the fact is that he had to finish his career because of me."

Faustino Asprilla

The former Newcastle and Colombian centre-forward was always outlandish on the pitch: overhead kicks, unpredictable goal celebrations and spats with fellow professionals. But it was a shooting incident in 2008 that really proved his penchant for the bizarre. Driving in his homeland with friends, a national security checkpoint refused to let Asprilla's vehicle continue due to the fact that they were carrying a loaded gun on board. A shoot-out ensued in which 28 machine-gun bullets were fired at security forces. No one was injured, but Asprilla was placed under house-arrest. "Seven people who were with me have not yet testified, and so I think it's a bit premature for me to be convicted," said Asprilla. "In fact, it reminds me of a movie that I once saw called Minority Report with Tom Cruise, in which people end up in jail even before you've committed the crime or even been tried." In all fairness, two years at Newcastle would reduce anyone to becoming a machine-gun-wielding-maniac.


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