A new-age “Spygate” has gripped the Italian city of Genoa ahead of a soccer game between the city’s two biggest clubs.
Luca De Pra, a youth-team coach for Genoa C.F.C., was caught spying on rival Sampdoria’s practice session on Friday. He was dressed in full military-style camouflage when Sampdoria staff apprehended him, according to Reuters.
De Pra had reportedly been taking notes and watching the drills before fans spotted rustling in the woods and alerted Sampdoria staff. They chased De Pra for a short time before eventually catching him as he tried to hide behind a tree.
De Pra is the grandson of Giovanni De Pra, Genoa’s greatest-ever goalkeeper, and a popular person in the city. Samdoria staff instantly recognized him. Sampdoria then issued a statement about the incident, which serves as a delightful prelude to Sunday’s “Derby della Lanterna” — as Genoa-Sampdoria games are known.
“That the derby is a question of nerve, tactics and strategy we already knew, but frankly we could never expect that it could turn into an scene of espionage,” Sampdoria’s statement said.
“Like Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill, Luca De Pra, Genoa goalkeeping coach and man of noble footballing ancestry, failed to overcome Sampdoria’s intelligence and counter intelligence operations.
“However, no prisoners were taken, and no blood was shed. Once tracked down and caught red-handed, the opposing side’s soldier was let free to return to base.
“You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more.”
Genoa has suspended De Pra, saying he acted on his own.
“No director or member of the coaching staff sent Luca De Pra, goalkeeper coach for the youth team, to watch the training session at Bogliasco. It was a personal initiative,” Genoa’s statement said.
“This has never been done before and is not part of the club’s modus operandi. The club makes it known that De Pra has been suspended with immediate effect pending further explanations.”
Perhaps producers should set the next installment of the Rambo in Genoa – Italy’s sixth-biggest city and cast De Pra in the lead actor’s role. It wouldn’t take much for it to top Rambo 4.
Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer or @mkomard, his Facebook page or NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.
Photo via Twitter/@dylan_fahy