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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June, 2003, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Perugia land Gaddafi's son
Saadi Gaddafi and his new club's shirt
Questions about Gaddafi footballing ability have been raised in Libya
Saadi Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has signed a two-year contract to play for Italian Serie A club Perugia.

The Libyan international player was presented with the Umbrian side's number 19 shirt at a ceremony at team president Luciano Gaucci's castle in the village of Torre Alfina, south-west of Perugia.

The 28-year-old midfielder left the Libyan club Ittihad earlier this month to clear the way for his move to Italy.

He already had business relationships with three other clubs in Italy, including part ownership of Juventus.

"The work in front of me isn't easy," Gaddafi said. "But this is an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Suggestions in the Italian media that the club is signing him purely for publicity have been denied.

"I'm convinced this is good for everyone," Mr Gaucci said on Sunday. "Above all I believe in him as a person and in his ability as a player."

Gaddafi, who is president of Libya's football federation, said he was up to playing in Serie A.

"In Africa, we play some games that are maybe even tougher than the ones in Italy," he told reporters.

Illegal immigrants

Gaddafi gave one-word responses to several non-football questions asked by journalists - including some about the flow of illegal immigrants passing through Libya to Italy.

Asked what Libya could do stem the flow, Gaddafi said he had "no idea", after which Mr Gaucci barred further political questions.

"We don't want to talk about politics today, only soccer," the president said.

Asked what his father thought of his career move, Gaddafi replied: "He's fine about it."

Perugia, who finished ninth in the Serie A last season, have a reputation for signing internationals from other nations.

The club was involved in controversy last summer when Gaucci threatened to fire South Korean forward Ahn Jung-Hwan, who scored the goal that eliminated Italy from the World Cup.

Gaddafi in Libyan squad
27 May 03  |  African
Gaddafi claims Owen backing
24 May 03  |  African
Gaddafi leaves Libyan FA
26 Nov 02  |  Africa

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