Soccer's famous son

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

He shuns the team bus in favour of a bulletproof Mercedes.

And he's spared the tradition of sharing his hotel room with a teammate - presumably because space is at a premium after his bodyguards and their AK-47s have been squeezed through the door.

So despite his pleas to the contrary, Al Saadi Gadhafi - son of the Libyan leader - was never going to be just one of the lads.

And so it's proved during a strange and mysterious career as a professional soccer player. If, in fact, he still is a professional soccer player. Since no one seems to know.

What is clear is that the bearded striker-midfielder signed for then-Serie A club Perugia in June 2003. At the time, Gadhafi was owner, manager and captain of the Tripoli club Al-Ittihad and had a stake in Italian giant Juventus. Oh yes, and he played for the Libyan national team.

"It's not going to be easy but it's an experience I'm looking forward to," he told reporters. "I've thought long and hard about it because I'll be living a totally different life."

Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. If there was a plan.

Gadhafi, who once hired disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson as his personal trainer, tested positive for a banned substance and was given a three-month ban by Italian soccer authorities.

But the third of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's seven sons finally made his debut in May 2004. He came on as a substitute in a 1-0 win against - surprise, surprise - Juventus.

"Gadhafi came on because he is a player and not because any one of us wanted to go into history as the one who first played the son of a head of state in the Italian championship," Perugia coach Serse Cosmi told the BBC.

Perugia was relegated and Gadhafi is apparently yet to make an appearance this year. But he's keeping busy and was in the news again last week after resigning as president of the Libyan Football Federation.

His resignation followed a 4-1 loss to Egypt in a World Cup qualifier and led to the suspension of the Libyan league championship.

Authorities have asked him to reconsider. But no such sentiments were expressed when Libyan coach Mohamed El Khemisy, who had dropped Gadhafi from the team for that game, also quit.

Gadhafi told the Sydney Morning Herald his father wants him to hang up his cleats.

"I say, 'OK, just let me finish my contract.' Maybe then I can be Libyan ambassador in the United States, or have some other kind of very sensitive position."


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