Belfast Telegraph

Meet the 'magical' horse placenta healer who Romania hope can help thwart Northern Ireland's Euro dreams

By Steven Beacom

Some people will go to any lengths to win a game of football.

Romania's national side are so desperate to win their crunch Euro 2016 qualifier with Northern Ireland that they are injecting their star players with a bizarre mixture including horse placenta.

The country has turned to a controversial female Serbian healer ahead of the qualifier at Windsor Park.

Top Romanian players Razvan Rat and Lucian Sanmartean are major injury doubts for the trip to Belfast and have been sent to controversial 'magical' physiotherapist Mariana Kovacevic in a bid to get them fit for the Group F top-of-the-table clash.

It just goes to show the lengths - or perhaps furlongs - the Romanians will go to in order to win at Windsor.

Kovacevic has treated a host of top players around the world including Manchester United star Robin van Persie and Manchester City heroes Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaletta.

She has also worked with the Ghana national team, and now her services have been called on by the Romanians.

"We are trying to make them fit. They have gone to Serbia to be seen. It is a lady who handles such cases, Ms Mariana," said the secretary general of the Roman Football Federation, George Chivorchian.

Kovacevic's reputation for curing injured players has rapidly grown in the football world.

Apart from Van Persie, Kompany and Zabaletta, on her website she lists over 100 other players she has treated through the years.

They include ex-Liverpool stars Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Glen Johnson, plus well-known players around Europe such as Sasa Ilic, Marko Pantelic, Dejan Stankovic, Savo Milosevic and Louis Saha.

In the 2012 African Cup of Nations, she was said to have used horse placenta treatment to nurse Ghana's Asamoah Gyan back to fitness in double quick time.

After four hours of treatment he was able to return to action, when it was thought he would be out of action for four weeks!

At the time Gyan admitted to thinking he had been cured by witchcraft.

He said: "When she administered the concoction I thought she was going to allow me some days to recuperate. To my surprise she told me to start sprinting after just four hours and I said to myself: 'This lady must either be crazy or a witch'.

"I hesitantly started to sprint and I couldn't understand how I managed to do it without any difficulties. I must admit I'm really grateful to this woman."

It is claimed the injection of horse placenta on to an affected area speeds up the recovery process.

Kovacevic is not the only 'healer' from outside the game to have helped footballers.

Faith healer Eileen Drewery became a part of Glenn Hoddle's set-up when he was the England manager, leaving him open to ridicule from many quarters.

Some England players like Darren Anderton thought Drewery was great, but others thought she was a joke.

Glamorous Kovacevic is also a controversial figure. In the past she has faced claims of tax evasion in relation to payments received from footballers.

Romania captain Rat (34), who has won 100 caps, has an adductor muscle problem, while 35-year-old playmaker Sanmartean has a foot injury.

Both excelled for Romania in their 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in November, the only defeat suffered by Michael O'Neill's side in the campaign so far.

In contrast to Romania boss Anghel Iordanescu, O'Neill has a clean bill of health with no injury issues following Thursday's 'training match' with the Republic of Ireland which ended in a 0-0 draw at the Aviva stadium in Dublin.

Northern Ireland will enter next weekend's fixture in second place with 12 points from five games, just one point behind the table-topping Romanians at the halfway stage of the qualifying process.

The top two sides in the group qualify automatically for next year's finals in France, with the third placed team guaranteed at least a play-off.

Hungary are currently in third place on eight points with Finland on four, Faroe Islands on three and Greece on a solitary point.

Belfast Telegraph


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