Our top 10 weird football remedies are brought to you in association with Felix Magath and his curious notion that he could cure Brede Hangeland’s knee injury with quark cheese.
Here we look at some of the other strange healing methods on offer for the wounded modern footballer, methods which presumably each originated with someone saying, “It’s a million to one shot, but it might just work.”
Now, enjoy our top 10 weird football remedies – and try not to jump through the nearest window once you’ve read Number 2…
1. Horse placenta
What do Diego Costa, Robin van Persie and Frank Lampard have in common? Well, they all went to Belgrade to have a Serbian housewife massage horse placenta into their injured bits.
Rafael Benitez, then manager of Liverpool, sounded out the following endorsement in 2009:
We checked it out when we became aware of the different players who had been there. I must admit we have been surprised with how well it has worked. It means we have players available and training that we expected to be out for several weeks.
If you happen to be good at mimicking an international dialling tone then you’ve got yourself a primo excuse for bunking off work here.
2. Lager baths
The always-reliable Daily Star reported in 2009 that scores of South American footballers were ditching the horse placenta to bathe in lager mixed with a plant called rue that used to be used as a defence against witches in the Middle Ages.
Well, wouldn’t you?
Manuela Jara, the healer in question, had a high-profile falling out with Paraguayan midfielder Cristian Riveros over an alleged unpaid bill. Surely a man who has bathed in beer can be forgiven for a touch of forgetfulness?
3. Wisdom tooth removal
Chelsea winger Florent Malouda once attributed an upturn in form to this procedure, while van Persie – surprise surprise – was once quoted as saying, “My osteopaths think there may be a connection between my teeth and the muscle injuries I suffer.”
This of course leads to the uncomfortable image of the Manchester United striker grooming himself in the style of a cat.
Everton tried this cure on Duncan Ferguson back in the day, and who knows just how injured he could have got if they hadn’t?
4. Goat’s blood
Bayern Munich and Germany medic Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt once prescribed St Johnstone striker Peter MacDonald a course of injections of goats’ blood to help him recover from a hamstring injury.
“The specialist said my hamstring was too tight and I had goats’ blood injections. That’s the best for loosening it off,” he said in what we imagine to have been a childlike matter-of-fact manner.
5. A bit of cock
Bayern Munich and Germany medic Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt (hurrah for copy/paste!) claims that an extract from the crest of cockerels called Hylart can help to lubricate knee injuries and take away the pain.
Usain Bolt, Michael Owen, Jürgen Klinsmann and Arjen Robben are just some of this guy’s high-profile clients, so perhaps he’s not quite the wacky Professor Weetos type that we’re imagining him to be.
Or the “even better than that!” character from The Fast Show.
6. Faith healing
Former England and Tottenham Hotspur player and manager Glenn Hoddle made faith healer Eileen Drewery a household name when he appointed her as a consultant to the England squad for the 1998 World Cup.
Drewery had helped Hoddle to combat injury during his playing days but the clear trust – faith, if you will – invested by Hoddle in Drewery was not shared by his England team.
Thinking on, it probably puzzled them sufficiently to have been the reason behind David Beckham’s red card and David Batty’s missed penalty. So now we know.
Brilliantly named Bolivian side Blooming were prescribed Viagra by club physio Rodrigo Figueroa to help them perform better – in terms of playing football, that is – at high altitudes.
The ‘sex drug’ isn’t on the banned substances list and it improves blood flow, so clearly it’s a must for coping with the difficulties of playing at more than 3,500m above sea level.
And it makes for some spectacular goal celebrations.
When Cristiano Ronaldo was sidelined with an ankle knock a few years ago, it came spookily soon after a voodoo priest (good name for a metal band, that) called Pepe had ‘revealed’ to the Spanish press that he’d been hired to injure the Real Madrid star using black magic.
A band of Peruvian shamans gathered outside the Spanish Embassy in Lima to perform a cleansing ritual, involving a bizarre combination of swords and maracas, but Ronaldo remained sidelined.
You know you’re a top footballer when you’ve got wizards and warlocks locking horns over you.
9. Stem cells
The Sunday Times once reported that a number of Premier League players had stored frozen stem cells from the umbilical cord blood of their newborn babies in case they suffered a career-threatening injury.
“We decided to store our new baby’s stem cells for possible future therapeutic reasons,” said an anonymous footballer, presumably from some dark corner of a multi-storey car park.
“As a footballer,” he continued, “if you’re prone to injury it can mean the end of your career, so having your stem cells – a repair kit if you like – on hand makes sense.”
10. A magic sponge
What’s so Blooming magical about it, anyway? You don’t see physios standing over stricken players, sponge aloft, saying “expelliarmus”. Or maybe you have? Let us know.