Mad Dog mystery?

Last updated : 21 February 2006 By Reggie Holdsworth
The email reads:

Undercover Austrian police investigating a series of high profile kidnappings over the last 18 months, today raided an isolated farmhouse in the Styria region.

Acting on information received, armed police officers arrested a number of men believed to have links with Russian Mafia groups, and rescued a 22 year old Austrian footballer who has apparently been held there for a number of months.

The kidnapped man is claiming to be Emanuel Pogatetz, the Austrian international defender, although it was believed that Pogatetz was now playing for an English club, Middlesbrough FC.

A police spokesman reported that the man insists he is Emanuel Pogatetz and that his captors had arranged an elaborate sting involving forged paperwork and an actor who impersonated Pogatetz's agent.

Whilst in captivity he alleges he heard the kidnappers discussing the arrangements to send over to England a lookalike, who was actually a Chechnyan refugee, who had only ever played football for his local village team.

A UEFA representative said he found the story quite incredible, in that an English Premier league team would soon realise the difference between an Austrian International defender and a Chechnyan pub team player.

'Such a player' went on Kurt Diefenbaker 'would not be able to last a full 90 minute game, and would be shown up for lack of pace and inability to pass the ball accurately. I feel sure that Middlesbrough FC will have got the right man.'

A spokesman at Middlesbrough FC said that the matter was being looked into by Keith Lamb who was checking through the transfer documentation, although they said they felt sure the player they had signed was the real Pogatetz as they'd seen him playing for Graz and he looked just like that.