In what seems an endless stream of bizarre Shanghai Shenhua stories this season, head coach Sergio Batista told local media he regularly rides refuse collection vehicles in the city.
In an interview with the Oriental Sports Daily, the former Argentina coach, told a reporter he was a “simple man, who enjoys simple pleasures”.
Presumably growing weary of the usual banal questions not about sport, from local sports journalists, he gave a somewhat unusual response when asked what such rustic pleasures these may be.
“Oh, those kind of trucks they have to carry away rubbish, we wait for them to empty their rubbish out, then we pay the driver 30 rmb for a 10 minute ride in his truck.”
The Argentinian revealed that he had ample opportunity to indulge in his intriguing hobby, as such trucks often passed by his apartment in the Xintiandi neighbourhood of central Shanghai.
It’s unknown whether the Batista was having a laugh at Dongfang Tiyu’s expense, or if he’s trying to find the remnants of Shenhua’s 2012 CSL campaign in the back of one these trucks.
However, it may be the former, as he also revealed in the same interview that he is afraid to go outside during thunderstorms, since “I am quite tall, so if someone is going to be struck during a storm, that person is sure to be me.”
It may be superstition, wicked humour, or mis-translation, but it’s all very much part of the footballing soap opera that is Shanghai Shenhua.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015