Ahead of Sunday's Derby della Lanterna, tensions between Genoa and local rivals Sampdoria turned into a clandestine military operation. At least for one man.
According to Reuters, Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Sampdoria fans spotted rustling in the nearby trees during a training session on Friday and notified the staff. A member of Sampdoria's staff then chased after the rustler and found him hiding behind a tree, recognizing him immediately as Genoa youth team coach Luca De Pra because he is "a popular figure in the city." He was in "full military attire."
"That the derby is a question of nerve, tactics and strategy we already knew, but frankly we could never expect that it could turn into an scene of espionage," Samp said in a statement on their website (www.sampdoria.it).
"Like Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill, Luca De Pra, Genoa goalkeeping coach and man of noble footballing ancestry, failed to overcome Sampdoria's intelligence and counter intelligence operations.
"However, no prisoners were taken, and no blood was shed. Once tracked down and caught red-handed, the opposing side's soldier was let free to return to base.
"You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more."
Making the odd situation even better, Genoa denied having any knowledge of De Pra's attempt at espionage (as anyone would of a top secret mission) with a statement of their own.
"No director or member of the coaching staff sent Luca De Prà, goalkeeper coach for the youth team, to watch the training session at Bogliasco. It was a personal initiative," Genoa said in a statement on their website (www.genoacfc.it).
A personal initiative indeed. After all, John Rambo was himself a lone wolf.
It's unclear how long De Pra had been on his mission or if he resorted to any survivalist techniques like boiling stolen footballs for sustenance or drinking his own urine for the hell of it, but this is all proof that a man who has access to a military uniform is going to use it. Even if he is an Italian youth football team coach.
This is how you properly hype a derby.