Not including this man…
It’s a double whammy of excellent football writing today, as the newest member of the Interestment family, Rory – a fantastic writer with a hard line in the funny stuff – has turned his wonderful magnifying glass on the murky waters of football behind-the-scenes business. He had this to say…
What will you miss most about Ronaldo, now that he’s off to live in Madrid? His outrageous footballing skill perhaps? His perfectly waxed chest? Maybe, you’re just relieved to be seeing the back of the his oversized adam’s apple. Whatever your take, you’re probably just happy the whole sorry saga is over. To celebrate, we thought we’d cast our minds back to four infinitely more amusing transfer stories. Enjoy…
1. Ali Dia, Blyth Spartans to Southampton, 1996
It’s hard to know who to feel more sorry for in this sorry mess. In 1996, Graeme Souness receieved a call from someone purporting to be the cousin of former footballer of the year, George Weah. “I’m really good too, you should sign me” was the gist of the chat. Graeme, being the trusting and friendly soul that he is, immediately agreed. Then, having barely seen him train, Souness named Dia as one of the substitutes in Southampton’s next game against Leeds. In the 32nd minute, he came on to replace Matt Le Tissier. After a few minutes of play, the full horror of the situation began to dawn on everyone watching. Was he the worst player ever to pull on a Saints shirt? Had he ever even played football before? It seemed all that was missing was a pair of oversized flapping shoes and twirly bow tie. 14 minutes later, his Southampton career was over, Souness substituting the substitute (and probably doing a little cry inside as he wondered how he’d allowed somehow to expose his thundering stupidity so cruelly). Dia returned to the club on Sunday for physio, but that was the last anyone ever saw of him – he reportedly went on to study business at Northumbria University. Souness banned anyone at the club from ever mentioning the incident again.
2. Robbie Savage, Birmingham to Blackburn, 2005
The very fact that mighty Manchester United once signed football’s most hated man is amusing enough. But the real comedy was to come much later in his career when Goldilocks, with his eye on a move to Blackburn, requested a transfer out of Birmingham. The reason Savage gave for forcing through the transfer was that he wanted to be closer to his parents in Wrexham. Obviously he hadn’t bothered to do his research on the AA Route Planner – if he had, he would have found that he was in line to save precisely five minutes on his journey. That’s 300 whole seconds to play with. Think of what you could with all that extra time. Presumably he settled on watching this clip 50 times.
3. Ronnie O’Brien, Middlesbrough to Juventus, 1999
Ronnie O’Brien is one of those footballers who must look back over his career and wonder how he kept fooling everyone. After impressing with the Irish Under 18’s, he was signed by Middlesbrough in 1998. There he found himself a charge of the Worst Football Manager In History TM, Bryan Robson. Amazingly, however, even old dead-behind-the-eyes Robbo knew a turkey when he saw one and quickly dumped Ron in the reserves. Presumably he thought someone like Dagenham & Redbridge or Altrincham might step in and take him off his hands. So imagine everyone’s surprise when Juventus came calling. To this day, no-one’s sure what prompted their interest, but it took them about a day to realise they’d got it wrong and farmed their new charge out on loan to Crotone, Lugano and Lecco (and no, we’re not making these names up). Not long after, Ron found himself playing his way round different MLS teams, and now qualifies for the US team.
4. Kenneth Kristensen, Vindbjart to Floey, 2002
Meet the man who’s quite literally worth his weight in… prawns. After finding himself in hot demand in the Norwegian third division, it was left to two footballing giants to fight out it out over big Ken. Floey finally got their man when they agreed to part with 75kg of shrimps. They even had a boxing style weigh-in just to make sure everything was legit and above board.