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The importance of Adriano Galliani's ties, an odd energy drink and all-conquering Sunderland feature in our series chronicling the extraordinary power of belief

AC Milan's true colours

When Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani presented the club’s new 2013-14 shirts during the summer, he wasn’t wearing a yellow tie. Some of the journalists present took this as a bad sign. Silvio Berlusconi’s right-hand man reckons he owns anything up to 200 lucky neckties, all in various golden hues (“Most are from Hermes”). He has a system all worked out: if the Rossoneri win a game, he doesn’t change his tie. With Milan hitting the buffers this season, he has been through quite a few, however.

'This sports drink tastes bad'


In the mid-1970s, a village team from just outside the city of Salisbury in Zimbabwe adopted a novel – and questionable – approach to maintaining their fitness for matches. As a group, they would swig rhinoceros urine prior to matches. “It has a mystical and magical power to it,” claimed one player. The magic backfired spectacularly on one occasion when the entire team began vomiting uncontrollably after one of their team drinking sessions – but “one bad experience won’t stop us believing in its power. Perhaps our sickness was down to something else.”

One bad experience won’t stop us believing in its power. Perhaps our sickness was down to something else.


Cochrane's cocky approach

Former Sunderland boss Johnny Cochrane didn’t really go in for team-talks or tactics, believing that “they complicate things too much”. Instead he took a rather more laissez-faire, albeit confident, approach. According to former players, Cochrane would rock up 30 minutes before kick-off cradling a glass of whisky and ask his charges: “Who are we playing today?” After receiving the answer, Cochrane’s response was invariably: “Oh, we’ll p*ss that lot.” Such ludicrous faith in his team wasn’t entirely misplaced, as the Mackems won the league title and FA Cup during his tenure in the mid-1930s.

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