Straight from the dark heart of Italy
The story of Luis Jimenez bears some resemblance to the 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.
The midfielder is no run-of-the-mill footballer, having worn the shirts of Fiorentina, Lazio, Inter and West Ham.
The Chile international spent the second half of last season at Parma but as ever he has ended up returning to the backwater of Terni, tucked into the rolling green countryside of Umbria, from which he cannot escape.
The local team go by the name of Ternana and it was for them that Jimenez pitched up in 2002 having secured a dream move to Europe from Club Deportivo Palestino.
It was meant to be a mere staging post on what had all the makings of a stellar career for a player nicknamed “The Magician” but every August for the last eight years, there he is getting ready for another campaign with the Prima Divisione side hoping that the bad dream will finally come to an end.
As he rewinds his day each time the same story unfolds: Ternana are willing to sell but the price is never right.
Jiminez in happier times (despite the kit...)
He thought he had found a way out in 2006 when Fiorentina took the stylish playmaker on a co-ownership deal of €2.5 million, but Ternana would not release him from their steely grip, feeling that they could get even more for him if he extended his contract with a club which had its sights set on promotion from Serie B.
That never came to pass, and after a thoroughly disheartening loan spell at Lazio it seemed that the mighty Inter would exert enough political muscle to sway the minnows when they took him on another co-ownership move in 2007.
A mixture of injury and loss of form saw poor Luis shipped off to West Ham for another forgettable loan spell which was only ended when Parma came to the rescue – even though it was all too late to secure a World Cup place with his country.
The last discussion with Nerazzurri owner Massimo Moratti came in June and was apparently terminated abruptly when Ternana, having laughed off Inter's €1.9m bid, came back with a counter-suggestion of €4m. Parma were willing to go as high as €3.5m but once again that seemingly inviting sum was turned down.
The Chilean would probably quite fancy a return to Inter
Not only is the 26-year-old missing out on top-flight football, but having pocketed an annual salary of €1.1million at Inter he's now back on a measly €100,000 a year, with his contract not expiring until 2013. Maybe it's time to find a new agent…
Jiminez still possesses all the trappings of a Serie A star, arriving at training in a black Porsche and eating out at a restaurant everyday (even if it's the same one he used to frequent when he first arrived at the club).
He's even shipped mum and dad over for a prolonged holiday and to help out with looking after his triplets, who were born in June.
Despite the misfortune that has dogged his football career, Jiminez's dashing smile helped him win over Maria Jose Lopez – a model and sometime show girl on Italian television who was axed from the football show Controcampo for revealing a little too much to the viewers one Sunday evening.
To heap further woes on her husband, she was then rumoured to have had a fling with another Chilean player, Mauricio Pinilla – although if recent events are anything to go by all is fine and dandy in the Jimenez household now.
However, for hubby, he's still having the worst football day of his life over and over again.
The midfielder is no run-of-the-mill footballer, rather a pla...(that's enough of that - Ed)
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