[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK
Alert over Italian soccer 'star'
Picture Belfast Telegraph
Alessandro Zarelli arrived at Bangor FC with a broken nose, said the club
The Welsh Premier League is warning clubs to be wary of a mystery Italian "football star" who has left a trail of confusion across the country.

Alessandro Zarelli contacted Welsh clubs claiming he was on an exchange visit arranged by the Italian FA.

The teams approached included Bangor City, Connah's Quay Nomads and Welsh premier league champions TNS.

But when checks were carried out, the clubs discovered he had supplied false footballing credentials.

The alleged top-rate player first contacted Bangor City Football Club in July 2005. He told the club he was on an exchange run by the Italian Football Association.

Club secretary Alun Griffiths said the man used "official-looking faxes" to introduce himself.

If he was such a good player, I asked him, why wasn't he playing in Italy?
Kath Lewis, Regency Hotel

"It all looked quite genuine, he was very convincing," said Mr Griffiths.

The club were initially told that the footballer's wages would be paid for by the Italian FA, but he later wanted the club to pay him 200 a week.

He claimed to have played for other British clubs, including Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday.

But when Bangor City manager, Peter Davenport, contacted someone he knew at Sheffield Wednesday, they had never heard of him.

'Convincing'

"He was only here for about a week to 10 days," said Mr Davenport. "In that time I checked a bit into his background and it didn't add up.

"He arrived here with a broken nose, so he never actually played for Bangor. He just took part in one warm-up session.

"He was an average player, he wasn't anything special," Mr Davenport added.

Whilst in Bangor Alessandro Zarelli was put up in the city's Regency Hotel, where he failed to pay the bill.

"He was very convincing, but I did wonder why he was here," said Kath Lewis who runs the hotel.

"If he was such a good player, I asked him, why wasn't he playing in Italy?" she added.

'Insistent'

Alessandro Zarelli later turned up at Connah's Quay Nomads.

"He had a bit of talent," said the Nomad's chairman John Gray.

The young player stayed only a few days at the club and he moved on when officials checked his background and found it was not what he claimed.

Mr Gray paid out of his own pocket for a hotel room for the Italian, and said he felt he had "learned by experience".

Welsh Cup and Vauxhall MasterFit Welsh Premier League champions Total Network Solutions were approached by Alessandro Zarelli just after they played Liverpool in the first preliminary round of the Champions League in July.

He contacted the club by e-mail and was "quite insistent," said TNS club secretary Ian Williams.

'Breaking club rules'

This time he never got as far as meeting club officials as they had researched his background over the internet before he arrived.

"It's important that clubs look closely at any player which approaches them," Mr Williams added.

"We didn't pursue it, we did our homework beforehand."

Alessandro Zarelli seems to have come to Wales via Northern Ireland.

In January this year he was in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with the Lisburn Distillery Football Club.

By March he had moved on after, according to the club's website, breaking club rules.

John Deakin, secretary of the Welsh Premier League, has warned all clubs to be wary of any approach which seemed "too good to be true."

A North Wales Police spokesman said they were not looking into the mater as no official complaint had been made against Alessandro Zarelli.




SEE ALSO:
Club withdraws stadium proposals
21 Feb 05 |  North West Wales
Footballer follows family tradition
15 Aug 04 |  North West Wales


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific