Italian footballer marks his retirement with 'fake helicopter kidnapping' mid-match

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There are certain stereotypes and tropes you can expect from lower league football. 

The players arriving hungover after drinks on Saturday night, the magic spray that cures any injury, oranges at half-time and that one overweight midfielder who should probably call it a day.

Then, of course, there's the traditional 'fake helicopter kidnapping' routine when one of the longest-serving players decides to retire. Right?

Well, that was bizarrely the case during a game in Sicily this year, when 55-year-old Ignazio Barbagallo decided to call time on his career in the most bonkers way imaginable.

The match took place in the Catanese Third Category championship, with The City of Viagrande and the Nebrodi locking horns in what seemed a rather innocuous match.

Insane retirement stunt

However, during the game, a fake kidnapping was staged that was planned with such accuracy, you could mistake it for being the real deal.

A helicopter remarkably lands on the pitch, sending dust and dirt everywhere from the rotors, causing players to take cover behind one of the dugouts.

Figures in hooded clothing and balaclavas proceed to emerge from the chopper, forcibly taking Barbagallo by the arm and escorting him towards the aircraft.

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Fake helicopter kidnapping

According to Fox Sports Italy, it was an insane stunt to mark Barbagallo's retirement from the game, proving a 'fitting' goodbye for a player apparently known for his pranks.

However, funnily enough, the decision didn't go down with the Sicilian football authorities and there were some damning consequences for City of Viagrande.

They were slapped with a €200 fine and were disqualified from competition until May 31, 2019.

The reason for the punishment - roughly translated - was given as: 'for causing the interruption of the race by pre-ordering and allowing the landing of a helicopter on the pitch compromising the safety of those present.'

Pretty hard to argue with that and Barbagallo was banned from competition until June 30th, but his retirement renders the sanctioning somewhat irrelevant. 

His personal ban was 'for having left the pitch without the referee's permission of a helicopter whose landing on the playing field was not authorised, forcing the referee to temporarily suspend the meeting, causing a potential danger situation for all present.'

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It's not everyday you read a statement like that from a footballing authority, but there's only so many ways you can normalise the events of that game.

Hopefully Barbagallo can now put up his feet and enjoy retirement from the 'beautiful game', safe in the knowledge that nobody was injured in his lucrative stunt.

Do not try at your local Sunday League pitch...

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