Harry Redknapp has prompted some sympathy, some derision and much bemusement after revealing how he was conned for three years by a fake jockey.
Redknapp, who has spoken bitterly about how he was overlooked for the England job, says he bankrolled 'Lee Topliss' in return for racing tips and inside knowledge.
That was, until it turned out that he had been the victim of fraud for three years.
The then Tottenham boss used to treat his young friend to dinner, give him free tickets to the club's matches and even give him lifts home.
The trouble was that 'Lee Topliss' was not actually Lee Topliss - who is a real jockey, despite his name sounding distinctly made up.
Redknapp was introduced to the 'promising apprentice' at the London casino Les Ambassadeurs, the now QPR manager says in his autobiography 'Always Managing', which is serialised in the Daily Mail.
"He wasn’t dressed too well, looked like he could do with a few quid, but very open and chatty," wrote Redknapp. "If you like a bet, he seemed like a good man to know."
The 'jockey' apparently then told Redknapp that he "loved Tottenham – the only problem is I can never get a ticket".
"Suddenly, he was at near enough every home game. He’d ring me up, give me a few tips for horses – they usually got beat – and then arrange to come to the match at the weekend."
Redknapp's generosity was such that 'Topliss' would have the luxury of enjoying big matches from the directors' boxes at Manchester United and Arsenal, including watching a game while sitting next to billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
The manager then explained how he paid the supposed jockey £500 and £150 for trips that he was told were for "a trip to the famous Godolphin stable in Dubai" and "the train to Newbury", respectively.
So how did Redknapp discover that he was being made a fool out of?
Football agent Willie McKay asked 'Arry if he was still in touch with his good friend, 'Lee Topliss'.
"Yeah, he's always ringing me - more losers than winners!" said Redknapp.
"He's not Lee Topliss," McKay is said to have responded. "He's a potman at a boozer in Newmarket. He picks up glasses - he's not a f***ing jockey!"
Redknapp reflected: "Three years he'd had me. The best seat in the house, good restaurants, lifts here, there and everywhere - and heaven knows what in handouts."
Finally, Redknapp said he always regarded himself as streetwise, but the fake jockey had been in a "different class".
"He was a conman preying on the racing scene and the little rogue had us all."
- Sports & Recreation
- Harry Redknapp