Striker on £2m salary wouldn’t pay milkman £4.50 saying ‘it’s honour I drink it’
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The Premier League's highest paid player once refused to pay his milkman £4.50, telling him: "It's an honour I drink from your dairy."
That's according to one of Fabrizio Ravanelli's former Middlesbrough teammates, who said the eccentric Italian "just thought he shouldn’t be paying for stuff like that" because of who he was.
Ravanelli made the previously untrodden journey from European giants Juventus to Teesside in the summer of 1996 after Bryan Robson agreed to pay £7.5m for the striker's services.
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Bankrolled by fiercely ambitious and extremely wealthy local businessman Steve Gibson, the club paid him a reported £42,000-a-week, making him the league's biggest earner.
However, Craig Hignett, who was at Boro at the time, said Ravanelli, a full Italy international, wasn't overly keen on parting with his hard-earned cash.
He told the Undr The Cosh podcast: "The milkman came to his house and went, ‘I need the milk money’. Rav’s come to the door.
"‘I’ve come for the milk money. You’ve had Monday, Tuesday, nothing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – £4.50’.
"Rav went, ‘No, no, no, no no’. He (the milkman) said, ‘Is there a problem?’ He (Ravanelli) said, ‘Yes, it’s an honour I drink from your dairy’. Deadly serious. £4.50. The fella’s on 42 grand a week!
"But he was f***ing brilliant – absolutely brilliant. I loved him."
And Hignett said it wasn't an isolated incident.
The former midfielder, who also played for Barnsley and Blackburn among other teams, said a similar would happen whenever Ravanelli went out to eat with his family, friends or entourage.
He said: "The food would come and he’d eat it, and then at the end of it he’d click his fingers and get the young lad up for the bill.
"And he’d give him the bill, and he’d make the waiter stay there.
"He’d open this bill out and he’d look down it, and then he’d look at the waiter, and he’d look back at the bill, and he’d look at the waiter, and he’d look back at the bill, and he’d go, ‘No, no, no, no, no’.
"And he’d stand up, and he’d point to all the bits of food he hadn’t eaten. ‘Didn’t like that, don’t like that, didn’t like that. I only pay for what I eat'. And then bump, off it goes."
Ravanelli, won the Champions League with Juve in 1996, scoring five goals in the competition, before moving to Boro.
He even tried to use his iconic celebration to get out of paying his £5,000 phone bill, according to Hignett.
At the time, Middlesbrough were sponsored by Cellnet who provided all the players with phones.
Ravanelli apparently ran up a huge bill after a string of long distance calls to his other half back in Italy, and Charles Porter, the man tasked with handling the players' accounts, told him he had to cough up.
Describing a confrontation at the training ground about a month into the season, Hignett said: "Fabrizio turned around and he went, ‘How many goals have I scored this month?’
"Charles went, ‘Well you’ve scored five this month. You had the hat trick against Liverpool and you’ve scored two more – that’s five’.
"He (Ravanelli) said, ‘Yes, and what do I do when I score a goal?’ And if you remember, he lifts his shirt over his head and he runs off. He (Charles) said, ‘Well you lift your shirt up’.
"He (Ravanelli) said, ‘Yes, and what’s on my vest?’ And he used to wear a vest with Cellnet on it. Charles said, ‘Well it’s Cellnet’.
‘How many goals again?’ ‘Five’. ‘Right, I charge Cellnet £2,000 for advertising. You owe me £5,000’.
"It’s the first time I’ve heard anyone go, I’m not giving you that, f*** off. You owe me money! And he was deadly serious."
Ravanelli left Boro after just one season, which ended with the club being relegated to the Championship.
He returned to Premier League four years later with Derby County, but he was unable to prevent relegation once more.
Since retiring in 2005, he's had coaching roles at Juventus and brief stints managing AC Ajaccio in France and Arsenal Kyiv in Ukraine. Now 53, he's also worked as a football pundit for Sky Italia, Fox Sports and Mediaset.
- Middlesbrough FC
- Premier League
- Juventus FC
- Derby County FC
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