Adrian Mutu, a repetitive Romanian lost cause

By Dominic Vieira, writing from Lisbon, Portugal

Unfortunately he earned that label. On occasions he displayed a lethal scoring ability; remember his glorious Parma days partnering an incredible Adriano up front? On the pitch he was a performer, an icon to his country and a symbol. Adrian Mutu is Romania’s most talented player of the 21st century. But off the field, the striker who cost Chelsea £15.8m was anything but a superstar.
In 2004, his reputation ferociously disintegrated into dust as he failed a drugs test. Mutu missed training and José Mourinho ordered a test where cocaine was found floating through  his body. According to his representative, loan Becali, three players missed training that day.

The consequences were severe but fair. Mutu was banned from the beautiful game for 7 months and sacked by Chelsea. In addition, he lost a sponsorship deal worth £700,000 with Pepsi. The London based club searched for compensation for breach of contract, an endless process which has stretched for over 6 years and yet to be concluded.

After 3 different cases involving the Court of Arbitration for Sport, FIFA Disciplinary Committee and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Mutu was ordered to pay an elevated and record €17m to his former club last year.

The figure has yet to be paid which is not surprising as he probably doesn’t have the money( how many footballers have those funds sitting in their account? ). Therefore Mutu has appealed for the fourth time, this time to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. However, it’s been rumoured that FIFA will ban the Romanian international from football if he does not pay the compensation.

It’s fascinating where the €17,173,990 originated from, so here is the breakdown:

  • €16,500,000 for unamortised portion of the transfer fee paid to Parma (wasted cost of buying the player)
  • €307,340 for unamortised portion of the sign-on fee (received by Mutu),
  • €366,650 for unamortised portion of the fee to the Agent (received by his agent)
  • note: Chelsea also wanted Mutu to pay his replacement cost

Normally footballers learn from these mistakes or we expect them to, right Rio? But to great disappointment, the Romanian striker didn’t.

He returned to Italy to play for Juventus and debutted on May the 29th 2005. Mutu was back. The following season he netted a total of 11 goals from 45 appearances which is a low figure for a player of this calibre. However, 2006 was marred by the infamous Calciopoli scandal which relegated Juventus to the Serie B and many key players left. Mutu was sold for €8m to Fiorentina where he was reunited with former Parma manager Cesare Prandelli and team-mates Alberto Gilardino and Sebastien Frey.

Mutu was flourishing in Florence as he rediscovered his scoring instinct. His performances were rewarded with praise and interest from other clubs. The 2004 cocaine scandal had evaporated, Mutu was finally back. But in January 2010, he tested positive in two drugs test after games against Bari and Lazio. He was banned for 12 months which was reduced to 9 months and later 6. This time it was not cocaine. Sibutramina was found in his system which is a stimulant that counters hunger banned in the UK and EU.

Unlike in England, Mutu remained at the club and after the time was served he returned to action. This summer, now aged 32, he joined his sixth Serie A club as we’ll see Mutu performing in a Cesena shirt this season. During his time at Fiorentina he played a total of 143 matches scoring 69 times, the first 3 seasons were golden.

However, it wasn’t only in the medical department where Mutu created problems. The lack of discipline has seen him embroiled in sex scandals; bar fights; leaving training without permission and drinking alcohol after a World Cup qualifier against Serbia. He’s clearly not an example to anyone. Last week Mutu and Gabriel Tamas were punished and expelled from the national team as they sneaked out from the hotel to attend a party two days before a friendly against San Marino. The striker stated that the punishment was “exaggerated” as they only arrived one hour late after the agreed curfew.

Romania’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2012 are painfully slim as they currently sit in 4th place in Group D led by France. However, the manager did call up Mutu to the last two games which they both won with him scoring 3 goals. Two games remain which require two victories and a football miracle to qualify Romania. An in-form Mutu is crucial, but his behaviour in the past has seen him excluded from matches and it’s likely he’ll miss out again. But they honestly need him.

The relationship between drugs and footballers exists, it’s not a lie and it’s been looming around for decades. The number of players involved with these addictive substances is long; there’s no point listing names. From one perspective, it’ no real surprise as footballers are young and with fat wallets and it’s normal to see them clubbing into the late hours. It’s partly  what many people at that age!

On the other hand, the missing element is that footballers are professional. We all have the opportunity and ability to play the game, but a very small percentage of men or women are paid to play. The attention focused on them is naturally intense and whether they shine or fall  fans or the media make a big deal about their behaviour off the field. But if they are professional, surely they should behave in a certain way as thousands are influenced by them. It’s a shame to see them destroy their career through fruitless and immature actions and it has scarred Adrian Mutu forever.

His major problem is that he’s a kid living in an athlete’s body. Still a tremendous player though.

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