Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote has narrowly avoided jail after he admitted possessing a fake driving licence.
The 27-year-old was handed a seven-month suspended sentence after he admitted buying a fake Belgian licence for €15,000.
He then attempted to swap the forgery for a full UK licence, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Tony Hawks, prosecuting, said that when passing through Belgium, the Ivory Coast international met a man near Brussels airport and handed over the cash and a photograph of himself.
He then attempted to send it off to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea with an application for a UK licence.
“The licence was a very good forgery but there were a number of features that showed it was a forgery,” said Hawks.
“The offence is aggravated by what he has done as he sought to change base metal into gold.”
Suspending the imprisonment for 18 months, Judge James Goss QC told Tiote that he would have to complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
“I give you credit for your plea of guilty, which has saved you from an immediate sentence of imprisonment,” he said.
“In that way you will be punished and I have no doubt that, using your considerable talent, you will be able to assist others in the community by encouraging them and passing on your skills that way.”