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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 16:24 GMT
A year to forget for Mutu
By Andrew McKenzie

Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu's admission that he took drugs has seen him sacked from Chelsea and banned from football for seven months.

It should mark the final chapter in a crazy year for the Chelsea striker, whose career has been turned upside down inside 12 months.

A year ago he was on the crest of a wave.

The captain of Romania arrived at Chelsea from Parma for a 15.8m fee and made an instant impact, scoring in his first three games.

On 22 October he got the winner as Chelsea beat Lazio in the Champions League and then nine days later he did the same against Everton.

But little has gone right for him since.

His turbulent two-year marriage to glamorous wife Alexandra, who was awarded custody of their young son, came to an acrimonious end.

There followed a sex scandal with a Romanian porn star, a car chase involving police that earned him a driving ban and he was subsequently advised to seek psychiatric help for his "extremely serious personality and maturity issues" from a Bucharest doctor.

On the field he failed to score in the Premiership for the rest of the season and his relationship with then manager Claudio Ranieri gradually went downhill.

His chances of breaking a 19-game barren spell in the league were already unlikely before his failed drugs test, after a falling out with new boss Jose Mourinho.

Back in Romania the news of his drug test has dominated the news, as Mutu is the closest thing Romania has to David Beckham.

Romania football journalist Traian Ungureanu told BBC Sport: "He was often compared to Beckham. He and his ex-wife were called Posh and Becks.

"He is a big star and considered the best and brightest Romanian football player abroad.

MUTU PROFILE
1979: Born in Calinesti, Romania on 8 January
1996: Begins career with Arges Dacia Pitesti
1998: Joins Dinamo Bucharest and scores 18 goals in 18 games
2000: Joins Inter Milan but struggles for first-team chances and moves to Verona
2002: Parma sign Mutu, who has his best season to date with 17 Serie A goals
2003: Appointed Parma captain but is then sold to Chelsea for 15.8m
2004: Falls out with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, then is sacked after admitting he failed a drugs test

"There is a Mutu cult which can be seen almost on a daily basis in the Romanian press.

"He's known in Romania under the nickname 'Brilliant' which says a lot.

"He is very much loved for two reasons. Firstly for his football qualities but also for the way of life he leads. This brings a lot of sympathy from teenagers. He is seen driving fast cars, wearing expensive watches and also his tattoos.

"Whenever he comes back to Bucharest he is seen partying with the best, the brightest and the most beautiful women in the country - the girls you see on TV. He is the dream of every teenager."

Ungureanu believes Mutu's playboy lifestyle began during his time in Italy with Inter Milan and Parma, but became a problem after his move to Stamford Bridge.

He added: "It came with the money. When he was in Romania he grew up in a respectable family. He played for a small country club at Arges and was virtually unknown.

"He came to Bucharest and played for a big club in Dinamo, but he played too little as he was sold to Inter Milan. But it came too quickly for him.

I think he will look for a lesser club in Italy
Traian Ungureanu
"He changed overnight from a well behaved Romanian into an international star and once he went to Italy he became somebody else.

"But the big change happened when he came to England. The media is different in Italy. Football players are more professional, more careful with their image and their social life is more complex.

"When he came to Chelsea he got all the money in the world. Back in Romania he was on every tabloid back page, and sometimes front page, and I think he lost control.

"His profile became huge because the Romanian press is largely tabloid and follows closely the Romanian players abroad, especially Mutu. So whenever a few lines were written about him they were reprinted in Romania.

"He began to believe there was a conspiracy against him because the serious press started to warn him this is not the way to lead the life.

"But at the same time he was becoming more popular with the people, which helped him to lose control and believe he was in the right."

At 25, Mutu has time on his side to rebuild his life and career, but Ungureanu doubts whether he will have the motivation to do so.

"I think he will look for a lesser club in Italy," he added.

"I've seen many Romanian footballers taking the same downward curve and they rarely bounce back because they have very, very bad habits.

"As long as they have enough money and as they can claim some sort of celebrity nothing will stop it."






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