Ladbrokes Thug Life: Navarro takes on Inter Milan in Valencia
David Navarro enjoyed a mostly unspectacular career in Spain with Valencia and Levante, but for one night in 2007, the now-34-year-old defender sparked a moment of Champions League madness that remains one of the most infamous in the history of the competition.
Picture the scene: Los Che have just dumped an Inter Milan side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the competition after grinding out a 0-0 draw at the Mestalla to go through on away goals having drawn 2-2 in the San Siro.
The full-time whistle is just about to be blown on a nervy, niggly game of football low on quality and high on hard tackling with the Inter players frustrated at their failure to find that elusive goal.
With mere seconds remaining Nerazzurri pair Julio Cruz and Nicolas Burdisso leap in to win an aerial challenge with Valencia’s Carlos Marchena that sparks a melee as players from both sides come to the defence of their prescribed teammates.
David Navarro, an unused substitute, arrives on the pitch as the referee ends the game and gets himself in the mix.
Minutes later, chaos descends with Navarro captured on camera running across the pitch and away from an angry pack of Inter stars intent on bringing the defender down.
At first it’s unclear as to why the heated pursuit has occurred with many neutrals suggesting sour grapes on the part of the Serie A side.
Then the replays reveal the truth: in the midst of the pushing and shoving, Navarro has waded into the row and delivered a sucker punch directly to Burdisso’s face.
The mayhem continues as Navarro escapes down the tunnel and to the safety of the changing rooms, with several Inter players trying and failing to follow the attacker.
In the immediate aftermath it’s discovered that Burdisso has suffered a broken nose as a result of the punch, though the Argentine is later found to have played his part, having clashed with several Valencia players in the titanic on-the-pitch tussle that remains a stain on the competition.
Navarro received a six-month ban from all football for his actions, while Burdisso and Maicon were given six-game bans.
Marchena was hit with a four game ban while Cruz missed two games and Inter defender Ivan Cordoba was suspended for three.
Dubbed “a coward” by then Inter boss Roberto Mancini, Navarro’s career never truly recovered from that one night of madness.
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