The ball David Beckham infamously booted over the bar during England's crucial Euro 2004 shoot-out with Portugal might be going into space - for real.
Online casino GoldenPalace.com, which bought the ball for €28,050 (£18,500) in an online auction last month, has announced plans to store the sporting relic onboard a Canadian spacecraft entry in the $10m X-prize race. GoldenPalace.com is sponsoring the da Vinci Project's Wild Fire, which is due to blast off from the central Canadian province of Saskatchewan on 2 October, taking Beckham's ball with it.
That's the plan, anyway.
GoldenPalace.com, which is well known for its publicity stunts such as hiring a streaker to promote its brand at this year's Superbowl, also wants to take the ball on a tour of the UK, offering fans a chance to take a penalty with the ball.
GoldenPalace.com founder and chief exec Richard Rowe can barely contain his satisfaction at this latest marketing wheeze. "This is one of The Ball's stops on a world tour to raise money for charity. We will be setting up promotional events so that people will get to participate in penalty shoot-out style competitions using The Ball. Now they will also be using the first football to have been in Space," he said.
The Ansari X Prize competition offers a $10m prize to the first, successful commercial spaceship team. To win teams must build and launch a spaceship carrying three people to a 100 km altitude (62.5 miles), return safely to Earth, and repeat the feat with the same ship within two weeks. ®