Drugs, geopolitics and no talent: How Saadi Gaddafi "made it" in Serie A

Football writer Greg Lea tells Team 33 about a bizarre episode in Italian football

Saadi Gaddafi, Udinese

Udinese'sc coach Giovanni Galeone, right, advises Al Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, before playing in the Italian Serie A first division soccer match between Udinese and Cagliari, at the Friuli stadium in Udine, Italy, Sunday, May 7, 2006. Udinese won 2-0. (AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini)

"Even at twice his current speed he would still be twice as slow as slow itself."

When you're describing a footballer, the quote above is hardly a compliment. But that is how Saadi Gaddafi's talents were assessed during his odd spell in Italian elite football.

The third son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the former captain of the North African country's national team got to play in Serie A with clubs like Perugia, Udinese and Sampdoria between 2003 and 2007 despite a lack of visible talent.

He did rate his own talents though as he was once quoted as saying: "For me it would be easier to find a spot at Juventus than at Perugia. My technical attributes are best brought out by playing with world-class players."

If you say so, dude!

It's a crazy tale involving mid-2000s geopolitics and Silvio Berlusconi, as well as a failed drug test, a lavish lifestyle off the pitch, ex-England and Arsenal striker Jay Bothroyd as a team-mate and Diego Maradona and disgraced Olympian Ben Johnson as consultant and personal trainer respectively. 

Football writer Greg Lea, who has contributed to FourFourTwo and The Set Pieces among others, joined us on this week's Team 33 to tell us some of the bizarre tales and anecdotes from Gaddafi Jr's football "career" at the highest level.

You can listen into the full interview at the start of this week's podcast or stream it for free on iTunes: