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How bizarre: 6 of the weirdest stories in sports

With the Manti Te’o story rumbling on, we take a look at some of the more bizarre stories in the world of sport.

Stephen Ireland and Stephen Ireland's dog.
Stephen Ireland and Stephen Ireland's dog.
Image: Eamonn and James Clarke/Eamonn and James Clarke/EMPICS Entertainment

AS MORE DETAILS emerge in the story of Manti Te’o's now apparently non-existent dead girlfriend, many of us here in TheScore.ie have been left scratching our heads. It’s truly one of the weirdest stories any of us have ever heard.

However, it did get us thinking. What other bizarre stories have emerged involving sportspeople?

Stephen Ireland and the case of the dead grandmothers

When Stephen Ireland’s maternal grandmother was found to be alive and well despite the Aston Villa midfielder claiming she had died to get out of Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifying game with the Czech Republic in 2007, he took the only sensible decision available to him.

He lied and said it was actually his paternal grandmother, Brenda Kitchener, who had died.

Of course, as it turns out, she hadn’t and Ireland’s international career was effectively over. The sad part is Ireland was actually undergoing a real personal tragedy at the time but why he felt the need to create two fake deaths will remain a mystery.


The premise is simple enough. Four mascots race each other in the middle of the seventh inning of a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. What could possibly go wrong? However, when Randall Simon reached out to playfully hit the Italian sausage (played by a student named Mandy Block) with a bat, his practical joke went horribly wrong.

After the game, Simon was questioned by police and fined nearly €400 for disorderly conduct while Major League Baseball suspended him for three games.

YouTube Credit: Retrogradeheart

Jen Chang & the fake reporter

Liverpool’s director of communications was forced to leave the club after allegations he had threatened a Liverpool supporter who had set up a high profile blog posing as Duncan Jenkins, a completely fictional journalist who had intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Anfield outfit.

Details of the whole affair – which much like Te’o's story caused many people to shake their heads in disbelief – can be found here.

Chang (right) at a Liverpool game before leaving the club.
(C) Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sportub

Planes, trains and turning down deals

You probably haven’t heard of Keith Fitzhugh. But that’s because the 26-year-old, who had previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, gave up the opportunity to play with the New York Jets to work for the Norfolk Southern Railway in Atlanta, Georgia.

There aren’t many people who turn down contracts in the NFL but Fitzhugh decided the secure income of the railway company was a better bet. Given the current state of the Jets franchise, it’s hard to blame him.

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YouTube Credit: Norfolk Southern Corp.

Is it a bird; is it a plane; we’re not sure actually

While his team were in LA for a game in December 2010, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs claimed to have seen something strange floating above him. And it wasn’t Kobe Bryant.

“It was a strange flight pattern. I thought it was falling, not landing. That’s it, it’s not a big deal,” was Ginobili’s response when questioned on the incident. Sounds like a pretty big deal to us.

Ginobili (right) can laugh about it all now.
(C) Darren Abate/AP/Press Association Images

The pain in Spain is mostly because of the cheating

The Sydney Paralympics were just the second occasion when athletes with intellectual disabilities were allowed to participate. However, the Sydney Games would also play host to one of the most scandalous events in Olympic history when the Spanish basketball team were forced to return their gold medals.

It turned out that 10 of the 12 Spanish competitors did not have an IQ below 70, the maximum allowed for athletes competing in the games. Their cheating was exposed by undercover reporter Carlos Ribagorda.

YouTube Credit: veryworstintheworld

What have we missed? What weird sporting stories have you seen? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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