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FAGNANO CASTELLO, Italy, May 11 (Reuters) - Most people in this sleepy southern Italian village have heard of Lazio's Argentine star Juan Sebastian Veron.

Unfortunately for Veron, no one seems to know much about his great, great grandfather.

According to paperwork which Veron used to obtain Italian citizenship last year, Giuseppe Antonio Porcella, born here on November 28, 1870, was his long-dead relative.

Like thousands of Italians from the poor, mountainous region of Calabria, Porcella emigrated to the brave new world of Argentina around the turn of the century.

As a result, Veron was able to become a naturalised Italian citizen in September last year, just three years after he arrived in the land of his forefather.

The benefit to Lazio has been considerable.

They have been able to use the immensely talented midfielder as an EU citizen, leaving them free to field three of their four non-EU players in matches this season.

There is only one snag -- Veron and Porcella might not be related after all.

PROBE OPENED

A Rome magistrate has opened an investigation into suspicions which first surfaced in the Italian consulate in the Argentine city of La Plata that Veron's paperwork was bogus.

The magistrate, Silverio Piro, has reportedly confiscated documents from the houses of both Veron and Lazio's sporting director Felice Pulici.

Piro, who has declined to comment on the case, is said to have spoken to both men about the paperwork and also questioned Veron's agent Gustavo Mascardi.

The case has created more than a ripple of curiosity in Fagnano Castello, a village of 5,000 people nestled in the mountains 60 km (40 miles) northwest of the provincial capital Cosenza.

"A lot of people have been talking about it here but no one seems to know very much about the family, other than that there was this guy called Porcella," said Francesco Ricca, barman at the Euro Bar on the town's Aldo Moro square.

"No one seems to know anything about him."

Up the road in the Bar Centrale, opposite the village's peeling stuccoed church, the barman was similarly bemused.

"There have been all kinds of things written in the local newspapers but nothing of any substance," he said. "If you ask me, all the people who might have known the truth about this probably died long ago."

HUNTING THE PIGLET

An added complication to the Veron case is that sometime during the last 130 years, Porcella's family changed its surname to Portella for aesthetic reasons. "Porcella" roughly translates into English as "piglet".

"There has been some confusion over the name of the player's supposed ancestor," Fagnano's mayor Luigi Brusco told Reuters. "The family apear to have changed their name because it had animal connotations."

Lazio have branded the magistrate's probe "violent aggression" and have pointed out the irony of its timing -- just as they were entering the most crucial stage of the season when distractions are least welcome.

The case seeped into the Italian media last month, days before the Rome side took on Valencia in the quarter-finals of the European Cup and prepared for the league title fight.

Lazio could still win the league if they win their final match of the season on Sunday and league leaders Juventus lose theirs. If Lazio win and Juventus draw, the title will be decided on a play-off between the two teams.

"Someone wants to unsettle us, at this time of the season above all, and I don't understand the motives," Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti told a news conference last week.

"We have told the relevant authorities everything we know about the Veron case in a bid to see justice done. If someone has deceived us I will follow it up personally. I have already given a mandate to two lawyers to look into this case.

"But first we need to find out if this blessed certificate is real or false. Only then can we get to the bottom of this."

In the meantime, Italian newspapers have linked Veron with a move to European Cup finalists Real Madrid or English champions Manchester United at the end of this season.

By the time his curious case limps through the labyrinthine Italian legal system and the truth about his ancestry is known, the alleged great, great grandchild of Giuseppe Antonio Porcella might be long gone.
 

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All I know is that Sebastian's father played for panathinaikos for many years and failed several times to get an italian passport.Thats why he never went to Napoli of Maradona.

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The sun will rise again...and it will be...GIALLOBLU!
 
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