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Football: Goodison Ark; EXCLUSIVE EVERTON STAR ANDY'S ANIMAL CRACKERS He's got 7 horses, 9 dogs, 3 geese, 3 goats, 3 cats, 2 ferrets, 2 turtles, 2 deer, 2 rabbits, 2 zebra, a parrot, a camel.. and his wife wants a koala!

Byline: By BILL MILLS

ANDY van der Meyde rocks with laughter when he talks about the animals he finds in his house and garden back home in Italy.

Just don't mention the camel! Wife Diana couldn't bear being apart from her personal menagerie so she left the Everton star's Cheshire home to return to the Lake Como residence they enjoyed during the winger's days with Inter Milan.

Van der Meyde said: "It's like a private zoo these days. You've never seen anything like it.

"Here in England I have two Bordeaux dogs, called Mac and Gemma. The guy who got me this house has asked me to look after his cat Larry while he's abroad. But that's nothing compared to the zoo in Como." He has to phone his wife for the latest update on the animals, then recounts: "We have seven horses, nine dogs, three cats, two ferrets, two turtles, a talking parrot, two rabbits, three goats - and one of them is expecting. Then there are two deer, two zebras, three geese and a camel.

"You have to think of it as a safari park. It really is wonderful to be among all these animals."

Van der Meyde, 27, bursts into laughter as he recalls: "Yes, the camel. I forgot all about the fact that she had bought that thing when I went back to Italy before Christmas. She had mentioned something to me that one day she wanted a camel.

"But when I arrived late at night and opened the garage door I nearly died on the spot. In the dark was this massive camel, staring at me from about half a yard away!

"Recently she told me she now wants a koala. Apparently, you can buy those sorts of animals. So probably next time I open the garage door at night a koala will jump on me. Oh, and my daughter wants a goldfish. Well, I can hardly turn that down, can I?"

It's 18 months since Van der Meyde arrived from Inter in a pounds 1.8million deal. After wife Diana headed to Italy, another Dutch woman arrived on the Merseyside scene.

"There is another woman in my life here," he revealed. "My mother Agnes has decided to move from Amsterdam to England. She is living in an apartment not far from my house. After every training session I go and visit her.

"I've had a tough time here. It all started when Diana could not settle. She and our oldest daughter Isabella had adapted so much to the Italian way of life.

"I visit them regularly. Between me and the wife things are OK again now, but it is awful that I have to be on my own here, even though I'm quite happy with the English way of life.

"It's finally calm again in my life - after two burglaries and a hectic night in hospital after someone spiked my drink in a night club!"

CAPTION(S):

FAMILY MAN: But Andy van der Meyde has to fly to Italy to see his wife and daughter. Picture: Voetbal International
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2007
Words:513
Previous Article:Football: Cottagers battle on.
Next Article:Football: Whelan: Fights are par for the course; EXCLUSIVE.



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