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Mutu walks well trodden path
Clare Lovell | October 19, 2004 12:38 IST
Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu enjoys all the trappings of wealth and celebrity: fast cars, designer clothes, fawning followers and a nod into the glitziest nightclubs.
At 25, he is instantly recognisable at home where he has national hero status for his Romania goal-scoring prowess. In Italy and England where Mutu has played most of his club football newspapers delight in the on and off-field exploits of the forward with the winning smile and diamond ear studs.
A positive drugs test for cocaine could prove the final step, however, in a well-trodden path leading from hero to zero for the young footballer.
Mutu had the soccer world at his feet 14 months ago when he became one of the first signings of Chelsea's ambitious new era under billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.
The Stamford Bridge faithful took him to their hearts after he scored four goals in his first three games and delighted them with jinking runs and masterly ball control.
An unselfish, intelligent player, he said he got as much enjoyment out of making goals for his team mates as he did in hitting the back of the net. "I like to be creative and entertain," he said.
Mutu had left Parma as their top scorer, lured to Chelsea in a 15.8 million pound ($28.46 million) deal with the promise of big wages, Champions League football and a good life in London.
But he left behind a broken marriage to another Romanian celebrity, television presenter Alexandra Dimu, and a young son.
Mutu took to London life with gusto. Asked how he relaxed after matches he said: "I go to nightclubs. London has lots of good nightclubs."
Newspapers began filling pages with stories of his so-called playboy lifestyle and his game, so promising in the first half of the season, went rapidly downhill.
He scored only one goal from mid-January to the end of the season and fell out with normally easy-going coach Claudio Ranieri.
When Ranieri was replaced by the straight-talking, no-nonsense Jose Mourinho in July, few believed Mutu would stay. He was briefly linked with Juventus as he attempted reconciliation with his ex-wife but when the deal fell through, said he wanted to stay at Chelsea.
Snappy dressing aside, Mutu has always been keen to avoid being seen as just another one-dimensional uncultured sportsman.
Both his parents were teachers, he has read Dostoyevsky in translation to improve his English and says he would have studied law had football not intervened.
But the promise to start afresh post-Ranieri turned sour after Mourinho preferred the strike pairing of Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba.
A discontented Mutu was left on the bench or out of the squad completely and has made only two substitute appearances this season.
Last month the tension told when he was involved in a car chase through Bucharest after he failed to stop at a police signal.
Earlier this month the Romanian, whom Chelsea had signed off with a knee injury, played for his country against club advice and used the trip home to criticise Mourinho, saying he and manager were in open conflict.
He returned to a hefty fine for his remarks and to be told he was still on the injury list. Mourinho said he felt the day when Mutu would play again for Chelsea was "a long way off".If Mutu's "B" test sample matches his first, a suspension of possibly two years is almost inevitable, both at club and international level. Two years ago Chelsea sacked goalkeeper Mark Bosnich after he tested positive for cocaine.