September 17, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Preacher of hate was a non-league manager

By Graham Brough and Pete Sampson in the Mirror

THE hate cleric exposed by the Daily Mirror was once a fiery football boss.

Before whipping up worshippers at controversial Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Abdullah was a soccer coach nicknamed Attila the Hun. He guided youth teams of London non-league sides Athenlay, Sydenham Boys and honed Gillingham and Wales U-21 goalie Jason Brown at Fisher Athletic.

Born Attila Ahmet, of Turkish Cypriot origins, he even changed his name to soccer-friendly Alan - but still managed to get banned from a final after skirmishes with a rival.

Yesterday, officials at Fisher recalled Abdullah, 40, as "very talented". But Brian Miller, chairman of the Bexley League, said: "He was a nutter, very volatile and took it far too seriously. Once I had to referee the managers - not the game."

The dad-of-three left soccer in 1998, devoting himself to Islam. He has now been forced out of the North London mosque after outraging moderate Muslims with anti-West tirades.

There is a lot more to this story which I'm not going to put up just yet. Lets see what the papers can get on their own. I first heard it a long while ago when Abdullah introduced me to one of his ex-footballing buddies who told me he had turned down two grand from the Mirror for a few word and a picture for their first expose (No longer up, my version here).

He told me

"Yes, when I first read what Abu Hamza said I thought, yeah, sling him out of the country. But I don't know the man. I know Atilla. If he is a threat to me why does he come round to my house, bringing all his cooking equipment and cook my family dinner?"

I never went back to film him. He looked almost like a BNP style Londoner and it was very strange to see the two guys kiss each other on the cheek.

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