Former Liverpool midfielder Albert Riera has reportedly been sacked by his club Udinese for skipping a match to play in a poker tournament.
The Spanish winger spent two years at Anfield after Rafa Benitez signed him from Espanyol in a deal worth £8million in 2008. Despite a few promising early performances, Riera struggled to get much playing time at all and was eventually offloaded to Olympiacos in 2010.
His career after that was one of a journeyman and his longest spell was three seasons with Galatasaray and he a short spell at Watford before signing for Udinese this year. He failed to make a single performance this season and is now a free agent looking for a club.
The Sunday Mirror report claims that the 32-year-old missed Udinese’s 1-1 draw at home to Chievo last Sunday because he was taking part in a poker tournament in Slovenia. This thursday they announced that his contract had been cancelled by ‘mutual consent’.
Skipping a match to play poker is, by itself, probably not the best idea, but when you add it to a Tweet he sent previously where he branded the Serie A outfit as “the worst club I’ve ever played for”, Riera’s situation doesn’t look great. Also, he’s played for Watford!
Getting sacked and becoming an internet figure of fun this week will likely mean Riera is feeling a bit sore, but it wasn’t all bad - he came second in the tournament and won £3000.
Injury has been a problem for his most of his career, with various problems meaning most seasons did not go by without him being interrupted by a spell in the treatment room. That will always mean it is difficult to get a run of games and play himself into form.
Riera may struggle to find a new club after this episode, with his reputation taking a bit of a pounding. However, if he can’t find new employers any time soon, it looks as though he could have a promising career as a poker player.