Bremen’s Diego on defensive after more headline trouble

January 21st, 2009 - 4:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bremen, Jan 21 (DPA) The Bundesliga has had some eccentric players from Brazil in the past, but at least Werder Bremen have a model professional in Diego Ribas da Cunha - commonly known as Diego. Until now that is.This season the modest 23-year-old playmaker has been finding himself increasingly in the headlines for reasons which have often had little to do with his undoubted prowess on the field.

Right at the beginning of the season Diego ruffled a few Bremen feathers by insisting on playing for Brazil at the Olympics in Beijing, much against the will of the club who wanted him back for the Bundesliga start.

There then followed some late training appearances and a loss of control on the pitch in December when he grabbed a Karlsruhe player around the neck - an act which earned him a hefty club fine and saw him banned for four matches up to Feb 21.

Much has also been made in the German tabloid press of an alleged affair with pop singer Sarah Connor, although the player says the two are “just good friends”.

Then this week began with headlines of a police car chase, with Diego stopped and breathalysed in Bremen.

Suddenly it seems, the quiet and modest Diego - the Bundesliga players’ player of the year in 2007 - has joined the ranks of compatriots such as Ailton, Marcelinho, Alex Alves, Rafinha or Carlos Alberto, all who have been the subject of some rich anecdotes in German football.

Ailton rarely returned to training from Brazil on time when he was at Werder, while Carlos Alberto - the most expensive signing in the club’s history - was a massive flop, known only for complaints of insomnia, feelings of weakness and fisticuffs in training.

Marcelinho enjoyed the Berlin nightlife at Hertha, Alves was another eccentric player at the club who reportedly once broke off a medical examination to climb a drainpipe, while Schalke’s Rafinha has been in the news for drink-driving and for breach of the peace after a party.

Diego has now caused some amusement among Bremen journalists for blaming his drink-driving incident on a restaurant waiter who “kept filling my glass” and the fact that he didn’t know how much he was allowed to drink.

He will at least escape further punishment from his club for the incident Saturday night in Bremen.

Bremen sports director Klaus Allofs says the incident should not be blown out of proportion.

“Diego is sorry. He knows that he committed an offence and will have to live with the consequences that the test brings with it. I don’t know if he will receive a driving ban or a fine,” Allofs said.

Diego said he had to take a breath test, but denied reports of a car chase or that he drove through a red light.

“I came to a police control stop where I followed the orders of the authorities. I was a bit shocked that there were three cars with blue lights flashing. But the policemen were very nice to me,” he said.

German media reports said Diego was over the legal alcohol limit of 50 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood and could lose his driving licence for a month.

“I had to blow into the tester. And after the test, I got my driver’s licence right back. I did drink some wine but was not drunk,” Diego said.

Allofs says the recent negative headlines were also to do with the increased media attention in Bremen, especially since Diego’s liaison with Sarah Connor has put him in the paparazzi’s focus.

“Nevertheless, our players naturally have a function as a role model,” he said. “And fundamentally, this should apply to everyone, even for Diego: stay away from driving after enjoying some alcohol.”

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