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One of Europe's top players reveals truth about Serbian 'horse doctor'
Published : 22 Nov 2009 00:37:15
When Robin van Persie was carried off on a stretcher screaming in agony last Saturday after just 10 minutes of Holland's international fixture with Italy, his season seemed as good as over. The first word that Arsene Wenger received that night was that the player's ankle was likely to be fractured and so the Arsenal manager approached the remainder of the weekend in a dark mood. Yet within 48 hours, Van Persie was enthusiastically describing the possibility of a miracle cure to his manager and that he hoped to be back playing within weeks. Agony: But Robin van Persie hopes to be back playing within weeks And even for Wenger, something of an expert in sport's medicine and physiology who admits he has dealt with players requesting the most extraordinarily weird and wonderful therapies, it was something entirely new: placenta injections in a back-street clinic in Belgrade which Van Persie had been told could rapidly shorten the recovery time required to heal his damaged ligaments. Less than one week after that initial phone call between player and manager, there are few in the football world now unaware of the claims of the Serbian pharmacologist-cum-physiotherapist Mariana Kovacevic. For, it turned out, Van Persie was beating a trail that had been blazed by Manchester City and Liverpool players, with Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany, Fabio Aurelio, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson all having used her services in a bid to heal muscle injuries. And within days of Van Persie's flight to Belgrade, Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard, suffering with a thigh injury, would follow, accompanied by his club doctor, Bryan English. It seems the biggest names in the Premier League and their clubs are willing to entrust their players to the woman said to bear a resemblance to Morticia in the Addams Family, yet who remains as elusive as she is now famous. Her methods involve injecting horse placenta into injured tissue, though Chelsea have insisted that Lampard is not receiving the injections but rather the deep massage Kovacevic also offers to help speed return from injuries. Nevertheless, the cult of Kovacevic among players appears to be established, having spread by word of mouth by Serbian players plying their trade throughout Europe. Serbian international defender Goran Loure, who plays for FCGroningen in the Dutch league, is an enthusiastic advocate, having justcome back from treatment at the same time as Van Persie and Lampard. Loure said: 'She does not rub the injuries. And within days of VanPersie's flight to Belgrade, Chelsea and England midfielder FrankLampard, suffering with a thigh injury, would follow, accompanied byhis club doctor, Bryan English. Brought to heal: Frank Lampard watching Chelsea's clash with Wolves from the stands 'It seems the biggest names in the Premier League and their clubs are willing to entrust their players to the woman said to bear a resemblance to Morticia in the Addams Family, yet who remains as elusive as she is now famous.' Her methods involve injecting horse placenta into injured tissue, though Chelsea have insisted that Lampard is not receiving the injections but rather the deep massage Kovacevic also offers to help speed return from injuries. Nevertheless, the cult of Kovacevic among players appears to be established, having spread by word of mouth by Serbian players plying their trade throughout Europe. Serbian international defender Goran Loure, who plays for FC Groningen in the Dutch league, is an enthusiastic advocate, having just come back from treatment at the same time as Van Persie and Lampard. Loure said: 'She does not rub the stuff on somebody's leg or muscle. It is a treatment where they inject medicine into the part of the body which is damaged. The medicineis made from the placenta and contains cells which will really speed up the recovery process. 'She goes six inches deep into the body. Once that has taken place, electrical equipment is attached to the leg and the skin around ligaments and muscles. The stimulation improves the medicine reaching various places of the injury.' Lampard is hopeful his treatment from Kovacevic will allow him to return for next week's vital derby clash with Arsenal, while Van Persie wants to shorten the six weeks doctors have told him he will need for a full rehabilitation with the helps on the injections. Loure claims both players will be able to hasten their comeback. 'Normally he [Robin] would have been out for months. But the treatment by Mariana will really do him good,' he said. 'Why do you think Frank Lampard is seeing her this week? He wants to get fit and needs her. Why do you think all these players from Manchester City and Liverpool have been flying out to see her? Relief: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany, Benayoun, Aurelio, Lampard, now Van Persie. They see how fast she brings people back. 'Players have been visiting her in secret for a long time. Manchester City played a crucial match in the UEFA Cup [against Hamburg] last season and Kompany was unable to play until he flew out to Belgrade. She got him going again in three days and he played.' Such references have made Kovacevic the talk of football, but the glut of publicity has not been entirely welcome. Last week, Serbian health officials, apparently alerted by the international publicity surrounding her business, called to inspect her registration documents but found her clinic locked up. Not that it stopped her practicing, with Van Persie continuing to be treated until he flies back to London today. Nevertheless, there remains some scepticism amid the hullabaloo of the supposedly miraculous. Wenger admits that he allowed Van Persie to be treated only because the player wanted it. 'I am not a fan but also I am not a doctor,' said Wenger. 'Van Persie said he wanted to go, so I asked my medical people if there was any danger. They said 'No', so I let him go. But I've never seen anybody with a muscle problem [be fit] short of 21 days, never seen anyone go there and five days later he plays.' Nevertheless, all eyes will be on Arsenal's clash with Chelsea next Sunday to see whether Lampard, whose original prognosis 10 days ago was for three weeks ofinaction, has recovered. And should Van Perise be active for Arsenal by the time they play Aston Villa on December 27, then expect to see a steady procession of sports stars making their way to Belgrade to see the Serbian miracle healer. Lampard tries placenta cure: Chelsea star in bid to be fit for Arsenal clashPlacenta doctor goes to ground after work on Arsenal star Robin van PersieSmiles better for injured Van Persie after Serbian housewife treatment Explore more:People:Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio, Bryan English, Robin van Persie, Vincent Kompany, Frank LampardPlaces:London, United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Europe