Early Doors

Hell’s angels

Early Doors

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Early Döorß presents its players to watch for Euro 2008. Not for anything good, you understand, but because they might do something a bit naughty.

Austria - Emanuel Pogatetz 

Mad Pog was banned for six months after breaking Yaroslav Kharitoniskiy's leg in two places while on loan at Spartak Moscow in 2005. Possible karmic realignment occurred the following season when he broke his nose, jaw and cheekbone in a clash of heads with a Basel player. Has recently returned to the Austrian fold after publicly criticising his national team coach and captain.

Croatia - Josip Simunic

The ultimate combination of Croatian toughness and Aussie cheating, the Canberra-born 'Joey' Simunic can abuse opponents in several languages. Not only had the gumption to stay on the pitch after his second booking against Australia at the World Cup, but was sufficiently out of control to get a third yellow card. Despite his reputation as a clogger, he is "like Ronaldinho" in training, according to Niko Kranjcar.

Czech Republic - Milan Baros

Known, perhaps ironically, as the Maradona of Ostrava (the Czech Republic's answer to Bolton). Makes the bad-boy list courtesy of his record-breaking speeding achievements, having been booked for doing 170mph in his Ferrari 430 while at Lyon.

France - Nicolas Anelka

Zinedine Zidane might not be around to endanger opponents' sternums, but Anelka recently compared himself to Zizou on the grounds that: "He's just a humble guy who happened to be the best." Spent several years out of the French team following a spectacular fallout with Jacques Santini. Wants to be an actor, saying: "I have a friend who's a producer, who makes lots of films. He recently did Asterix. So it's already agreed that I'm going to do other films." OK...

Germany - Jens Lehmann

Has mellowed slightly since pushing arch-enemy Oliver Kahn out of the picture, but still manages to find a target for his anger - the Euro 2008 ball: "We'll see goals scored here that wouldn't have gone in with other balls. You have to be very brave to go up for a catch with this ball. It moves very fast. You think it's going to drop but it doesn't. It just goes on. I think punching will be a safer option." Punching his team-mates, ED assumes.

Greece - Otto Rehhagel

The otherwise dour Greek side is enlivened by their pleasingly eccentric German coach. At Euro 2004, he went on a bizarre rant about the black goal nets, labelling them "a disaster" and calling for them to be replaced with white ones. It is evidently not a policy the 69-year-old Rehhagel applies to his suspiciously dark hair.

Italy - Marco Borriello

It would be easy to go for the routinely bonkers Antonio Cassano, but Borriello edges it thanks to the most talked-about sex act since Bill Clinton mislaid his cigar humidor. Borriello tested positive for cortisone, then argued he ingested the prohibited substance via his girlfriend Belen Rodriguez, who was using a steroid-based cream for a yeast infection. Eeeeww.

Netherlands - Robin van Persie

With Marco van Basten having ditched most of the bad eggs, the Dutch squad is an altogether more harmonious place these days. But expect fireworks from Van Persie, who clashed with soon-to-be-Holland boss Bert van Marwijk while at Feyenoord. Was banished to the reserves, where he ended up getting beaten up by Ajax hooligans. Lesson not learned, Van Marwijk axed him from the squad for the European Super Cup following an epic Van Persie sulk.

Poland - Artur Boruc

Celtic's Holy Goalie (pictured) has spent years winding up Rangers fans with his 'God Bless the Pope' t-shirts. He faces a tougher task upsetting the tediously neutral Swiss, although Gordon Strachan's tongue-in-cheek suggestion of a 'God Bless Myra Hindley' t-shirt might be a decent start.

Portugal - Nani

Soon to be the only irritating Portuguese lollipop merchant in Manchester, Nani played a starring role at an alleged sex party along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Anderson. According to some call girl called Tyese: "A man I later found out was Nani came in wearing only boxer shorts, swaggering about saying, 'I am hot, I am hot'. I knew this wasn't going to be simple sex."

Romania - Florentin Petre

Mutu is the obvious bad boy, what with the drinking porn stars' blood and getting sacked by Chelsea for abusing cocaine, but Petre has a better story. The winger was electrocuted by an overhead power cable in a bizarre fishing accident before catching hepatitis. Admittedly, neither of these misfortunes were his fault. Unless you're Glenn Hoddle.

Russia - Igor Semshov

Russian football seems to have settled down a little since the days of maverick playmakers like Alexander Mostovoi and Valeri Karpin. But Semshov proves there is still room for the odd loose cannon, having served a five-match ban for kicking a referee up the arse in 1998.

Spain - Luis Aragones

Early Döorß would like to nominate a breastfeeding Andalusian winger, but Joaquin, Jose Antonio Reyes and Jesus Navas have sensibly been left at home. Which leaves Aragones, who offered the following justification for calling Thierry Henry a "black s**t": "All I did was to motivate the gypsy [Reyes] by telling him he was better than the black." Nice. True to national stereotype, Aragones's squad were the last to arrive for the tournament.

Sweden - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Impeccable loon credentials. Impersonated a policeman and "arrested" curb-crawlers while at Malmo, and was involved in a scissor-fight with Mido during his spell at Ajax. Served a brief self-imposed exile from the Sweden team as a protest at his punishment for breaking curfew and going nightclubbing before a Euro 2008 qualifier. Also ticked off Inter Milan by telling them to hire disgraced former Juventus president Luciano Moggi.

Switzerland - Patrick Mueller

A more interesting team than you'd think, the Swiss. They have Benjamin Huggel who kicked a Turkish coach in 2005 (of which more below), and Alex Frei who gobbed on Steven Gerrard at Euro 2004.  But Muller deserves special mention for going AWOL from Lyon on the eve of the French Cup final to join up with the Swiss squad. Needless to say, he won't be back.

Turkey - Emre Belozoglu

Has been accused of racism an uncomfortable number of times, but has never been found guilty and always denied it. What is certain is the leading role he played in a spectacular brawl after Turkey lost to the Swiss in a World Cup playoff. Ended up with a four match ban along with with lovable Alpay, while the Turks had to play six games at a neutral venue.

- - -

RUMOUR OF THE DAY: Wayne Rooney's friends plan to make him wear a Borat-style mankini as a stag party stunt.

SCHEDULING MOVE OF THE DAY: BBC Five Live have slated Steve McClaren to summarise the Croatia game on Sunday.

FOREIGN VIEW 1: Polish tabloid Super Express is in hot water after a photo mock-up featuring the severed heads of Germany's Michael Ballack and Joachim Loew.

FOREIGN VIEW 2: "Total agreement" say Marca of the Ronaldo transfer. They reckon he will trouser a cool £7.5m a season. No talk of striking a deal with United, though.

TALKING POINT:  dannickbates gets a whole stack of brownie points following his creation of the Early Doors Appreciation Society on Facebook.

Last time ED checked, the group had a measly four members. It would join, but doesn't want to let that all-important mask of anonymity slip.

Anyway, get involved if you want another place to complain that Early Doors isn't as funny as it used to be (here's a thought - maybe it was never funny).

Today - So who is going to win Euro 2008? And who are you looking forward to seeing in action?

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