Football: Serie A coach latest to fulfil wild promises as his club avoid relegation

Crotone manager Davide Nicola (second from left) and his cycling companions in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, during the 1,300km journey to Turin.
Crotone manager Davide Nicola (second from left) and his cycling companions in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, during the 1,300km journey to Turin.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ F.C.CROTONE

ROME • The unpredictability of sport has done little to stop athletes, retired stars and coaches from making bold statements over the years.

On Sunday, Crotone coach Davide Nicola fulfilled one such promise after his Serie A side escaped relegation.

In early April, he vowed to cycle 1,300km to his home town in Turin if his men avoided a return to Serie B. Then, Crotone - playing in the top flight for the first time last term - were coming off a 2-1 win at Chievo. It was their first Serie A away win and fourth overall. Survival looked bleak for Crotone for much of the season, having taken 14 points from their first 29 games. But they won six of their last nine matches to finish on 34 points, two points above the relegation places.

Nicola was greeted by about 300 people when he arrived in the northern city of Turin after nine days of solid pedalling from the southern region of Calabria.

"Am I tired? I still do not feel any particular pain," the 44-year-old told reporters. "What matters most to me is that my goal has been achieved. I kept the promise and, with the help of many people, we have also attracted the attention of many people to the question of safety on the roads."

Road safety is a key issue to him as his 14-year-old son Alessandro was killed after being knocked off his bike by a bus three years ago. The site of the tragedy in Vigone marked the end of his route.

"It's been a beautiful journey, a fairy tale," said Nicola.

JOURNEY OF SIGNIFICANCE

I kept the promise and, with the help of many people, we have also attracted the attention of many people to the question of safety on the roads.

DAVIDE NICOLA, Crotone coach, who kept his word and cycled 1,300km to his home town after his team avoided relegation.

Another football fairy tale saw former striker Gary Lineker present BBC's Match of the Day in his underwear. He had promised to do so if his former club Leicester City overcame 5,000-1 odds to win the 2015-16 Premier League title.

While some are happy to make good on their word, others have had to eat theirs.

Retired National Basketball Association (NBA) star-turned-analyst Charles Barkley once made a wager with TNT colleague Kenny Smith that Chinese centre Yao Ming would not get more than 19 points in a game during the 2002-03 NBA season, with the former agreeing to kiss Smith's buttocks if he lost.

Yao scored 20 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, resulting in Barkley kissing the rear of a donkey that Smith brought into the studio.

More recently, tennis player Eugenie Bouchard honoured a Twitter date bet after the New England Patriots completed a comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to lift this year's Super Bowl title.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Serie A coach latest to fulfil wild promises as his club avoid relegation'. Print Edition | Subscribe