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Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 23:23 GMT
Animal magic inspires Napoli
Edmundo has been plying his trade at home in Brazil
Brazilian international Edmundo has returned to Italy after leaving the country 18 months ago complaining he was homesick and could not concentrate on his soccer.

The Vasco da Gama striker, who has joined Napoli on loan, flew into Rome and was whisked away in a taxi to the Olympic Stadium to see his new club play Lazio.

The presence of the man nicknamed "The Animal" in the stands seemed to do the trick.

The Brazilian's "happy" to return to Italy
Napoli, who had won only two of their previous 12 league matches, beat the champions 2-1 to climb out of the relegation zone.

"I'm very happy to be playing in the Napoli shirt," Edmundo said.

Edmundo's return to Italy is the latest twist in a troubled career littered with fights, red cards and a car crash which led to manslaughter charges and a brief prison sentence.

Italy parts one and two

He is still vividly remembered in Florence, scene of his previous incarnation as a Serie A player in 1997-99.

When Edmundo joined Fiorentina from Vasco in May 1997, the Italian club's president Vittorio Cecchi Gori described him as "a player of crystaline class and a lion-like temper".

On both points, Cecchi Gori was right.

Edmundo showed flashes of genius during his turbulent time in Florence but left successive coaches Alberto Malesani and Giovanni Trapattoni tearing their hair out.

Nine months after his arrival he walked out claiming he was not receiving enough of the first team soccer he was "promised" on his arrival.

The wayward star often courts controversy
Edmundo was coaxed back but a year later he left again to go to the Rio carnival.

The timing could not have been worse for Fiorentina, who were top of the league but had just lost Edmundo's striking partner Gabriel Batistuta to injury.

Their season fell apart and they finished third.

"It's time to stop screwing around," Trapattoni told Edmundo in an infamous bust-up shortly after his return from the carnival.

"It's time you grew up and became responsible because without a head on your shoulders you won't get anywhere despite your talent."

The following month Edmundo confirmed he wanted to leave.

The wayward striker explained that he could not play in Italy when his mind was in Brazil.

Monkey business

Back on home territory he was handed a four-and-a-half year semi-open prison sentence for his part in a car crash in which three people died.

He was subsequently threatened with prosecution for feeding beer to a chimpanzee at a party for his son.

Edmundo and Romario
Edmundo and Romario do not see eye-to-eye
Romario has also been on the receiving end of Edmundo's temper, most notably when Romario depicted him in a cartoon on the door of one of the toilets in his theme bar in a suburb of Rio.

Edmundo's arrival at Napoli has inevitably drawn comparisons with fellow Latin American bad boy Diego Maradona, who transformed the club after his arrival in 1986.

Maradona stayed for six years while Edmundo is due to stay only for six months.

However, should Edmundo change his mind about Italy, he has a clause in his contract which would allow him stay longer - body and mind permitting.

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See also:

31 Dec 00 |  Football
A predictable tragedy
24 Nov 00 |  Football
Edmundo angers Nike inquiry
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