Newcastle new-boy Chancel Mbemba who doesn’t speak a word of English got himself into a bit of a situation ahead of his debut.
Like something straight from a sitcom, Mbemba ended up panicking thinking he’d been kidnapped after getting into the wrong taxi.
The £8.5 million signing was wearing a £117 tuxedo, after being told to ‘dress sharply’ on match days, and was waiting for his taxi to pick him up and take him to St James’ Park.
Only, the cab he got in wasn’t the one booked for him by the club, but was in fact one booked to go to a Newcastle supermarket, and when the driver tried to explain this, Mbemba couldn’t understand.
When the taxi drove past the football ground, Mbemba started to panic.
He tried to call the club, and eventually got through to his translator, who assured him:
Chancel, I think you have got in the wrong cab.
He passed his phone to the driver when they arrived at the supermarket, and the translator spoke to him and explained the bizarre situation.
A source at the club said:
It all turned out fine in the end as he had an outstanding game and was very pleased with his debut.
But he really did think he was being abducted at one stage and the whole situation was difficult because of the language barrier.
It was funny afterwards but hard for him at the time. The driver apparently thought he had the right fare.
Being from the Congo, where kidnapping is common, it’s a bit easier to understand why he thought he may have been abducted.
The only thing about Mbemba that is more bizarre than being kidnapped in taxi wearing a tuxedo, is his age. He has four of them. When he started his career, his first two clubs had him registered as being born in 1988. Then when he played for the Congo national team in 2011, they had his birth year down as 1991. But Anderlecht had him down as being born in 1994… Making him 21. He underwent bone tests to establish his age as being 21. So when he played for Congo in 2011, he would have been 17. Fair play to the kid/lad/man.