Few things are guaranteed to rile a home crowd more than the sight of an opposition player time-wasting during the latter stages of a match while the hosts need a goal.
Trailing 2-1 entering the final minute of the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie with AS Roma in April 2021, Ajax were desperately chasing an equaliser that would see them head to Rome on level terms.
As you might imagine, Roma were keen to do everything they could to prevent that from happening.
Therefore, when the Serie A side were awarded a late throw-in, it was no surprise to see left-back Riccardo Calafiori in no rush to get the ball back into play.
He even ignored a ball that was thrown directly to him by an Ajax ball boy as he sought to wind down the clock even further.
Usually, this act would have prompted a chorus of boos from the home faithful. However, due to COVID restrictions, the match was being played in front of an empty Johan Cruyff Arena.
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Although the locals were unable to make their displeasure known, the ball boy that Calafiori had blanked seconds earlier was determined to exact revenge on their behalf.
He did so in such a brilliant fashion that the footage of his response went viral.
As Calafiori made his way down the touchline looking to retrieve the football that was farthest away from his current position, he was hit squarely in the chest by another ball hurled at him by the young ball boy.
As you’ll see from footage of the bizarre incident below, the player was far from happy with what had just gone down. His complaints to referee Sergei Karasev fell on deaf ears, though, as the Italian was cautioned for his time-wasting efforts.
Watch: Frustrated Ajax ball boy launches football at Roma’s Riccardo Calafiori
“The lad deserves a bonus,” declared a first response to the footage on Twitter at the time of the incident.
“Oh karma, you work in mysterious ways,” claimed another admirer of the ball boy’s work.
“Hazard would have leathered him,” wrote a third fan in reference to Eden Hazard’s infamous clash with Swansea ball boy Charlie Morgan during a January 2013 League Cup tie.
Others mocked Calafiori for initially feigning injury as a result of being hit by the ball.
“Did you see him grab his chest like he’d been hit with a spade? Good on the ball boy,” wrote one user.
“Cowered away like it hurt him, automatic reaction of the modern footballer,” stated a final reply.
While the ball boy was treated like a hero on social media, his Ajax side did fall to a 2-1 defeat on the night, and ultimately went out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate.
Calafiori’s Roma may have got the result on the night, but we bet he’s thought twice about time-wasting in the presence of a ball boy since.
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