Anatoly Korobochka was sacked as manager of Hearts in 2007 after refusing club owner Vladimir Romanov’s request to be picked as an outfield player for a friendly match against Barcelona, report the Edinburgh Evening News.
A Catalan side containing Ronaldinho and Giovani Dos Santos competed in the glamour match at Murrayfield.
Other big names involved in the friendly fixture include Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure and Samuel Eto’o.
But one man who did not make it on to the pitch was Romanov, as Korobochka revealed in an interview with the Edinburgh Evening News.
Speaking to the Scottish publication, the former CSKA Moscow coach lifted the lid on an often-forgotten period in Hearts’ recent history.
With some 60,000 fans in attendance, Korobochka recalls meeting with the club owner before kick-off: “… Romanov approached me and told me he wants to play in the game. He wanted me to pick him.”
At first, he assumed the Lithuanian businessman was joking, given that he had never before turned out for the team.
But soon things turned sour between the pair: “I refused and told him he had done no training and therefore he couldn’t play. He said to me ‘fine, but you will not be the coach for long’.”
Romanov was true to his word, with Korobochka duly dismissed in the weeks that followed.
One can only wonder at the horror that would have unfolded among both the players and supporters had the manager relented to this most odd of requests.