first_imgSuperstitious Premier League stars are handing over fortunes to witchdoctors in a bid to turn themselves into world beaters, a Sun investigation has found.Top players are making 9,000-mile round trips to West Africa to visit Juju men with supposed supernatural powers. They are taught bizarre rituals said to boost their skills or break the curse of an injury.  Several top stars have been publicly linked to black magic.Tottenham’s Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, 31, accused his family of using Juju on him during a feud.And Chelsea legend Didier Drogba told of his Ivory Coast team-mate Jean-Jaques Tizie chasing bad spirits away in a cemetery ritual in a book about African football. But some footballers are in thrall to the tribesmen and are being rinsed of their earnings by fakers driving round in flash cars.West Bromwich Albion’s former £10million record signing Brown Ideye warned last night: “I know players who get involved with the Juju men and they can’t get out. It’s a trap. They might get short-term benefits, but in the long run they pay for it. Juju men have a lot of influence.”The wife of one Premier League ace told The Sun that her husband transfers £1,000 a month to a witchdoctor in Ivory Coast. She said: “To some of the African players, the Juju man is more important than the manager of the club. If the Juju man told my husband to stop playing football, he would never kick a ball again.”  Our team tracked down a Juju man known as Marabout Degla in a remote town in Benin. He claims to have worked with some of the world’s top players and be able to make them the “top scorer or best player in the team or the world”.One ritual called the Troupkéka Milika costs around £460, but can be done remotely from his home in the “sacred forest” near the city of Parakou.Marabout Degla said: “During its nine days you cannot sleep with a woman and you should cover yourself with a white loincloth while you sleep at night.”He also offers “a magic ring that allows you to dominate playing partners and opponents during every competition you take part in”. Marabout Degla said included in the ritual’s cost is protection against witchcraft and black magic. But he added: “After becoming famous you must remember orphans, the disabled and work for the promotion of football in your country for it to work.”The Sun also spoke at length to the wife of a Premier League player about his relationship with his Juju man.She said: “My husband has gone back to his village several times to be cleansed.“The Juju man might ask him to bring a sacrifice — a spotless white goat, lamb or chicken — which would be slaughtered and then various oaths are made.“There are many fake witch doctors driving around in Range Rovers and living in mansions. But the genuine Juju man lives in a hut with no water or electricity. “I don’t think the English players know too much about all this, but some managers are definitely aware because the players excuse themselves at the drop of a hat when the Juju man comes calling.”Nigerian Ideye, who now plays for Greek side Olympiacos, also warned about fakers.He said: “These are men who are just trying to make themselves rich and tell you they can make your life perfect. “If things like that worked then instead of Messi and Ronaldo winning world player of the year it should be some African players. “I would advise players not to follow this route but it’s their choice, I can’t stop them.”The Sun can also reveal how a witch doctor threatened to curse an English team on the eve of a crucial European match if they did not pay him £50,000. He had turned up at the team’s hotel, but the captain dismissed the claim despite the pleas from an African team-mate. The team lost the game with both players making notable errors. A source said: “It was creepy stuff.”The price of magic The ‘Troupkéka Milika’ Cost: £460The ritual: Can be done remotely but takes 9 days to work What to do: Provide your name, DOB, and mother’s maiden name. Avoid sex for nine days and sleep under a loinclothBenefits: You’ll become a top scorer or best player in teamThe magic ring or headband Cost: £350The ritual: The ring is blessed with magic powers What to do: Wear it on your foot or head Benefits: You’ll dominate playing partners & your opponents during every competition you take part in.Also offers protection from black magic and evil spiritsWITCHCRAFT is an epidemic blighting huge swathes of West, South and Central Africa.More than half of the people south of the Sahara are believers and in many areas the cult’s grip is strengthening. Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zambia are among countries particularly affected.Every year, tens of thousands are branded as witches.Around 1,000 in the Gambia were accused of witchcraft in 2009 and made to drink potions by government-backed witch-doctors to “cure” them.In Tanzania, where around 500 “witches” a year are killed, 23 people were charged last year with murder after burning alive seven villagers suspected of witchcraft. Several countries have outlawed the cult.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

first_imgThe Lakers’ success in the free-agent market will rely on other factors, of course. The Lakers have enough cap space to sign one maximum-salary free agent. It appears likely recruiting efforts will mostly fall on Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ 36-year-old star currently intent on playing out the final year of his contract next season that will pay him $25 million. The Lakers may have whiffed last summer in the LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony free-agency sweepstakes. But they signed Young to a four-year, $21 million deal as part of their fallback plan. That has offered the Lakers’ fanbase and locker room continuous feel-good moments in an otherwise sour season filled with endless losses and injuries. “It’s been interesting, to say the least,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said on the Young coaching experience. “The one thing Nick does bring is a lot of playfulness and laughter at practice and games. He’s always smiling so you have no choice but to like the kid. The thing I love about him the most is with all the playfulness that he has, he wants to win. That’s big time.”That dynamic has played out in different ways. Young has averaged 14.6 points per game this season, a mark that only trails Bryant’s team-leading 22.6-points-per-game average. Young’s production ranks fourth in the NBA among reserves. That has proven good enough for Young to lead the Lakers’ bench in scoring 17 times in the 32 games he’s played since returning from a right thumb injury that sidelined him for the season’s first six weeks. Young also owns all four of the Lakers’ four-point plays this season. “I try to block out all the negativity and just be Swaggy out there,” Young said. “They told me you can’t turn Swaggy off. You made this guy so you got to be him.”Yet, Scott has become more agitated over Young’s play in recent weeks. After making a game-winning 3-pointer last month in San Antonio, Young called himself, “I.D.M.” for “I Don’t Miss.” Young then went on a 15-game stretch where he shot a combined 59 of 173 from the field. Young has since shot a combined 11 of 20 in the past two games. But Scott has continuously pushed for Young to expand his game on defense, passing, hustle plays and practice preparation. So much that Scott has threatened Young with reduced playing time.“I told him, ‘You’re going to get out what you put in it,’” Scott said. “At practice, you want guys to be serious. Sometimes he has a hard time being serious.”Just a little. Young’s postgame interviews become stand-up comedy routines. He has joked he’ll end his NBA career with 46,000 points, something that vastly exceeds Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record-setting 38,387 points. Young jokingly blames teammates’ poor shooting for why he only averages one assist per game. Young routinely interrupts his teammates’ interviews. Meanwhile, Young has enjoyed the enhanced limelight stemmed from his relationship with hip hop star Iggy Azalea.Yet, the Lakers’ most serious star has downplayed Young’s playful personality. After all, Young often speaks softly for only a few minutes after losses. “He understands in order to be Swaggy P and for people to pay attention to Swaggy P, he’s got to put that work in on the court,” Bryant said. “Or no one’s going to give a (darn).”Young offered Bryant a glimpse about his on-court approach when he worked out privately with him shortly after etching his long-term deal with the Lakers. That mindset carried over during Bryant’s infamous practice tirade last month when he unleashed a profanity-laced rant and comparing the team’s toughness to tissue paper. Young responded by matching up with Bryant and repeatedly claiming, “No one can guard me one-on-one.”“Some of it is just fear of embarrassment,” Bryant said about Young standing up to him. “People are watching and you have cameras rolling. The last thing you want is to seem like a wuss. But he’s very competitive.”Yet, Young sensed his partnership with the Lakers came close to dissolving after taking a risk by opting out of his contract before free agency. “I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Young said. “I was nervous and scared. I wanted to be here, but I kept hearing all the Carmelo rumors and Kobe having dinner with Carmelo. I knew once they paid him all that money, there would be none for me.” Young reported he also sparked interest from the New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, the latter scenario only possible had Pau Gasol not left the Lakers for the Bulls. “I wanted some more security because I felt like this was home,” Young said. “But I wanted to be at the best place.”Now that Young has stayed at what he considers the best place, he will try to convince free agents this summer to view the Lakers with the same affection. As he has demonstrated in both his play and personality, Young remained confident he will help make that happen. “I’m the good guy!” Young said. “Everybody likes me.”For the latest Lakers news, follow the Inside the Lakers blog. More on Nick Young | Nick Young photos | VIDEO: Young talks about shooting struggles How to explain Young’s optimism?Well, the former L.A. Cleveland High and USC product grew up idolizing the Lakers and remembers how customary it became for them to host championship parades. But the man who playfully labeled himself this season as the NBA’s best all-time shooter also argued he will play a significant role this offseason in helping the Lakers attract marquee free agents. “I told Goran Dragic on the court, ‘You might be my teammate next year.’” Young told the L.A. News Group shortly after the Lakers’ loss on Monday to the Phoenix Suns. “I’ll talk to Marc (Gasol.) Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I’ll talk to him.”Swaggy P, the Lakers’ free-agent pitchman? NEW ORLEANS >> His frustration over another loss eventually faded away. Nick Young’s playful bantering with teammates soon stopped. Then, moments after boasting about another high-volume scoring performance, Young turned serious.Both quiet and reflective, Young seemed aware the Lakers (12-30) enter Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans (20-21) at Smoothie King Center with issues beyond a five-game losing streak and the NBA’s fourth-worst record. Will the Lakers ever return to championship prosperity?“It’s tough, but I know it’s going to get better,” Young told the Los Angeles News Group. “This offseason is going to be big for us. It’s going to work out.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more