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Ex-Liverpool reserve racked up thousands in debt while impersonating Gael Kakuta

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Go ahead and read that headline again.  And then a couple more times.  This is no joke.  Well, it is.  But like all the best jokes, it's very true and very real.

A Gael Kakuta impersonator has racked up almost £15,000 worth of bills at luxury hotels and nightclubs across the country by pretending to be the Chelsea loanee.

Medi Abalimba, 25, posed as the French winger while booking into the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hyde Park, but was subsequently caught by police after they found his fingerprints on a pair of Harvey Nichols shoes the fraudster had attempted to give out as a tip.

-source: Daily Mail

A story from last month gives further detail.

A man has been charged with committing credit card fraud while pretending to be a Premier League footballer.  Medi Abalimba allegedly purported to be Chelsea winger Gael Kakuta. It is claimed he ran up a tab of about £5,000 at a nightclub in Manchester.  The 25-year-old is said to have again pretended to be the 23-year-old France youth international when he attempted to buy clothing worth more than £20,000 at the Trafford Centre.

-source: ITV

Abalimba has admitted to five counts of fraud, presumably all of them occurring while impersonating the Chelsea ex-wonderkid / loan warrior.  He awaits sentencing now in Manchester.  But I do have a few questions.

1. How does one go about impersonating a player who's hardly a global superstar?  I understand you can't quite pretend to be Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney on a whim since most people know what they look like, but if I walk into the "Corinthia in Whitehall" and introduce myself as Gaël Kakuta, do free penthouse rooms and bottles of Cristal just start raining from the sky?  Granted, I look nothing like Kakuta and this guy does I suppose, but I can't quite imagine any response other than a befuddled stare and a raised eyebrow if he were to trade under the good name of Gaël Kakuta.

"Good morning, I'm Gaël Kakuta promising young player for Chelsea Football Club.  Your finest room, please, and just put it on my tab."
"Uh, sir, we don't do tabs."
"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!  I'm Gaël Kakuta!  I almost got Chelsea banned from Europe!"
"That's great, sir.  You're still going to have to pay."
"Oh. [hangs up]"

UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments, maybe Abalimba was inspired by Eddie Murphy and Beverly Hills Cop:

2. Do players often hand out shoes as tips?  Is this a football thing or a rich person thing?  Sure, John Terry and many other footballers give their boots away after a match or as part of a promotion, but do they also give away their loafers or sneakers or whatever else they may be wearing while going about town?  "I'm sorry, Mr. Taxicab Driver; I've got no cash, but I got this pair of designer shoes that I may or may not be wearing at the moment that you can have. Oh no, don't worry about it, I got them for free as a door prize at Harvey Nichols when I told them I'm Gaël Kakuta."

3. How does the number of loans that Kakuta's had with Chelsea enter into this story?  Oh, nevermind, it's the Daily Mail.  At least something makes sense in this story!