Cristiano Ronaldo and Six of the Best April Fools' Day Football Pranks
We’re never ones to spoil your fun but if you are reading this you may well scan your newspapers, Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines with a bit more scrutiny.
Yes, it’s April 1 and that hands editors free rein to write (within reason) pretty much anything they want—only to exclaim “April Fools” a little later in the day.
As such, we’ve had a dig around and picked out some of the better ones from the world of football down the years.
Roman to Be the Boss at Chelsea
In 2013, Chelsea fans were greeted with the shock news that Roman Abramovich was planning to move from the boardroom to the bootroom by taking charge of first-team affairs at Stamford Bridge.
Paolo Fril of talkSPORT (more on him later) broke the news that Abramovich, who had gone through a string of managers since taking ownership of the club, had opted to take his coaching badges prior to assuming control of team affairs for the 2013-14 season.
Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli had been brought in to add weight to the story by saying he had been advising Abramovich on his new venture.
Blues fans were able to breathe easy when it was confirmed in the summer that Jose Mourinho was on his way back for a second stint in charge.
'Maradona to Russia?' You Must Be Joking?
Many England fans of a certain generation will still turn the air blue when the name Diego Maradona is mentioned.
Way back in 1988, two years after Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God”, the Soviet newspaper Izvestia claimed the Argentina legend was in talks to sign for Spartak Moscow.
Even though it was an April Fools' prank, it beat the sensors of the Associated Press who did not believe Soviets to be capable of such humour.
AP had to print a retraction after Izvestia admitted it was a joke.
(H/T to the Museum of Hoaxes for this one).
Greek Tragedy for Rangers
Official club websites absolutely love an April Fools’ Day joke, some of which are good, others less so.
One that fell into the former category was when Rangers announced in 2003 that they were planning to sign Greek striker Yardis Alpolfo from Galatasaray.
The prank caught more than one or two out, including Australia’s ABC.net.au.
The astute among you, though, will be all too aware that Yardis Alpolfo is an anagram of April Fools' Day.
Hahnemann Flying High
Another that came from the annals of official club websites was the piece on Wolverhampton Wanderers’ site, which claimed in 2011 that goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann would be taking the controls of the flight up to Newcastle.
Team-mates were drawn in to make the jape sound authentic and, according to local paper the Express and Star, it caught out BBC West Midlands presenter Daz Hale, who revealed it on air in his morning bulletin.
Wolves made the trip up to Newcastle, with Hahnemann fixed firmly in a passenger seat.
We're not sure how the flight went, but Wolves were beaten 4-1 at St James' Park.
Spain Swoop for Ronaldo
With Portugal mired in debt (Spain were/are, but the story would not carry as much weight if Portugal had tabled a bid for Jose Enrique), the Independent claimed that “Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to ‘act like a patriot’ and be sold to neighbouring Spain for €160m.”
The Independent even got a quote from a Paolo Fril, professor of political economics at Lisbon University, who suggested the move was tantamount to “surrender” to their Iberian neighbours, while a counter bid from UK Prime Minister David Cameron fell on deaf ears.
Torres Acting the Goat
The ritual, called “Dia de los Inocentes”, involved Torres—who at the time had gone seven games without a goal since his £50 million move from Liverpool—leading a goat around the pitch encouraging it to "do its business" in the goalmouths in a bid to ward off evil spirits that may have been blocking his shots.
If Torres did actually perform this, we hope he got his money back on the goat as it’s not done him any good over the past three years.