A former Leeds United defender has denied that he was behind the attempted shooting of Darko Kovacevic.
Kovacevic, who used to play for Leeds’ Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday, survived the attack which happened outside his home in Glyfada, Athens, as reported by Zougla.gr.
It is claimed that the Serbian was shot at on at least one occasion, before being taken to hospital with an injury caused ‘not by a bullet, but his attempt to avoid the shooter by falling’.
Describing the incident, Kovacevic told Zougla.gr: “I saw a man get out of a car with a gun outstretched and come towards me. I instinctively leaned to the right and then he shot me and then ran, got into the vehicle and disappeared.”
The perpetrator’s vehicle was later found burnt out with a weapon inside around a kilometre from where the shooting took place, according to Zougla.gr.
Police were said to be considering whether the attacker’s intent was to kill the 46-year-old, or to simply send him a message.
But the Serbian newspaper Telegraf later accused Raul Bravo, a former teammate of Kovacevic at Olympiacos, of arranging the hit in an article which has since been deleted.
It was even suggested that the incident may have been related to Bravo’s arrest last year in connection with a betting scandal in Spanish football.
But the former Leeds loanee told Marca: “A magazine in Serbia reported it and I was stunned that it said I ordered the murder of Kovacevic.
“The only thing that matters [to them] is selling [magazines], and saying I wanted to kill Darko sells more. It’s a crazy story, it’s nonsense.”
He added: “I will say it again, the relationship [between himself and Kovacevic].
“It [the report] is something that his neither legs nor a head. It is a complete invention, madness.
“He hasn’t gotten into any trouble and he doesn’t know why this has happened. He has earned a lot of money from football… I’ve told him to stay calm.”
Bravo also claimed that he and Kovacevic have spoken about the incident. “At home they’re a little scared,” he said. “But I knew that Darko was going to laugh when he saw the news. It took him two days to call me.”
Kovacevic cost Wednesday a reported fee of £2.5 million from Red Star Belgrade in January 1996, but left for a similar amount to Real Sociedad six months later.
The former Yugoslavia international scored just four goals in 16 games for the Owls but enjoyed success elsewhere with La Real [twice], Juventus and Olympiacos.