Former Perugia, Udinese and Sampdoria player Al-Saadi Gaddafi, the son of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from prison in Libya after seven years and has been invited to return to Perugia.
The 48-year-old hit the headlines in 2003 when he was signed by Perugia and then-President Luciano Gaucci, almost immediately getting suspended for failing a doping test.
He went on to represent Udinese and Sampdoria before his retirement in 2007.
His Serie A experiences were always thought to be a publicity stunt by Gaucci, who in the era had also tried to sign the first woman to play for a men’s team.
Following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Al-Saadi was extradited to Libya in 2014 and imprisoned in Tripoli.
In 2018, Saadi had been found not guilty of murder, deception, threats, enslavement and defamation.
“I felt the kind of joy I hadn’t experienced in a long time, because my family got to know Saadi well,” said Riccardo Gaucci, son of ex-Perugia President Luciano.
“It was unthinkable that Saadi could’ve committed the crimes he was accused of. He was always so respectful and humble.
“The idea of bringing Gaddafi to Perugia was for the image, but also a political strategy to bring the two nations closer together in peace. We were well aware that transfer was more than just a sporting event.
“We all knew Saadi wasn’t a champion, but he trained hard and never complained when he didn’t get playing time. Just giving him a few minutes against Juventus was enough for him.
“If Saadi wants, the doors are always open for him here in Umbria.”
#Gheddafi scarcerato, #GaucciJr esulta: “Sono strafelice” https://t.co/K5i2HbetAM
— Corriere dello Sport (@CorSport) September 7, 2021