Martin Jol seems like the kind of manager it would be difficult for a footballer to really upset, and that was the case when he was working with Dimitar Berbatov at Fulham.
The striker was the club’s highest paid player and arrived for training three quarters of an hour late. He’d got lost on his way in through London and Jol realised that he simply had to do something and send a message out to the rest of the squad.
Even though it was the first problem he’d encountered with the former Manchester United and Tottenham player, being so late meant a fine was the only option.
“One of the highest fines I ever distributed was for Dimitar Berbatov at Fulham,” Jol told Voetbal International. “Unbelievable actually. There was never anything to criticise him for until one day he was lost and three quarters of an hour late for training.
“Very annoying, the whole group knew that I never let anything run and of course I was curious what I would do. Berbatov was our best footballer and two days later we played against my old club Tottenham Hotspur. Normally you give someone a fine of a week’s salary, but he earned so much that even I thought it was crazy. I only kept it at ten thousand pounds. That money ended up in a pot with which we would do something with the group. I did not suspend him, because I do not cut my own flesh.”
Jol, wanting to keep his star man in a positive frame of mind, offered to pay the fine himself… as long as Berbatov scored the winning goal against Spurs.
“Two days later we play against Tottenham and before kick-off Berbatov winks at me and says: “Boss, do not worry”. And what do you think? He makes it 1-0 and that score remains unchanged. It cost me ten thousand pounds, but I paid it with love.”
The Dutchman could have instead cancelled the fine, but paid the money out of his pocket to go into the pot for a group event. He hasn’t explained what that event ended up being.