by Tom Stewart
We all know that money talks in football. It always has and always will. From the exodus of world footballs elite to NASL in the 70’s to the recent transfers of Samuel Eto’o to Russia and Nicolas Anelka to China. Sometimes a club signs a player that leaves everyone in shock. “How on earth did they sign him?!” etc. etc. etc. Here is our top 10 cases of clubs punching WAY above their weight and players who were clearly thinking with their wallets (if they were thinking at all)
10. Romario to Miami FC and Adelaide United, 2006
Both of these transfers DID happen towards the end of his career, however the previous season Romario had notched 24 goals in 32 games in the Brazilian top flight, suggesting he could still perform at a high level. Romario is one of the most prolific strikers of all time and has 70 caps for Brazil to his name. He signed for NASL side Miami FC (not even MLS) and played 25 games, scoring 19 goals before switching to Australian A-League side Adelaide United, where he played just 4 games before moving back to Brazil.
9. Guillermo Amor to Livingston, 2003
Former Barcelona star Amor signed for Livingston, a small club even by Scottish standards, in 2003. The former Barcelona man, who played over 300 games for the Catalan giants played just 3 games for the Scottish side, helping them avoid relegation. Financial problems at the club meant that he was released at the end of the season.
8. Claudio Caniggia to Dundee, 2000
Caniggia is a former Argentinian international who played 50 times for his country. He also had a hugely successful career in Italy, mostly with Atalanta. In 2000 he signed for Scottish side Dundee, who were at the time managed by Italian Ivano Bonetti, who Caniggia knew from his playing days. He lasted just one season with Dundee before transferring to Rangers, where he became a fan favourite.
7. Robert Prosinecki to Portsmouth, 2001
Former Barcelona and Real Madrid playmaker, Prosinecki, stunned the football world when he signed for Division 1 (Championship) side Portsmouth in 2001. This transfer is perhaps explained by the fact that Pompey at the time were owned by Croatian Milan Mandaric. Portsmouth only just escaped relegation that year, but Prosinecki’s performances were out of this world. So much so that a local newspaper named him in their all time best eleven. He moved to a Slovenian side the following year.
6. Nicolas Anelka to Shanghai Shenhua, 2012
Anelka has had a tremendous career, mainly in England where he has played for Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Bolton and Chelsea. It is not a surprise when players decide to wind down their careers in an obscure league for one last pay day, however, Anelka is only 32 and is probably still good enough to get into many Premier League sides.
5. Samuel Eto’o to Anzhi Makhachkala, 2011
The Russian league is far from a poor league, but Anzhi are a relatively small team (historically), and one that plays in what is essentially a war zone. However they do seem to have endless amounts of money to spend (they also have Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos on their books), and decided to make Eto’o the worlds highest paid footballer in 2011. Like Anelka, Eto’o is not old (he’s 30) and the former Inter and Barcelona striker could still perform for many of Europe’s top clubs.
4. Gary Lineker to Nagoya Grampus Eight, 1992
Linekar is one of the greatest strikers in English history, scoring 48 goals in 80 games for his country and is the only Englishman to have been top scorer at a World Cup. After England’s disastrous Euro ’92 campaign, Linekar decided to leave Tottenham and move to Japan, where he stayed for two years. He was only 32 at the time and was still fairly fit and attracted interest from countless European sides.
3. Socrates to Garforth Town, 2004
Legendary Brazilian midfielder Socrates made headlines when he signed for Northern Counties League side Garforth Town in 2004. The club is owned by Simon Clifford who operates Brazilian Soccer Schools in the UK, and has strong links with Brazil (former Brazil international Careca has also played for the club). Socrates was 50 when he played in a league game for the Yorkshire club against Tadcaster Albion, playing for 12 minutes.
2. Juninho to Middlesbrough, 1995, 1999, 2002
Not only did Middlesbrough manage to convince world cup winner Juninho to join the club, they tricked him into three spells on Teesside. Juninho absolutely fell in love with the place (he would often play football with kids on the streets of the town), and is considered to be one of Boro’s all time best players. After their relegation in 1997, he joined Atletico Madrid, before returning on loan to Boro two years later. He later joined permanently in 2002, winning the League Cup in 2004.
1. Rivaldo to Kabuscorp, 2012
Last week it was announced that former World Cup winner and World player of the year, Rivaldo would sign for Angolan side Kabuscorp. He has been winding down his career for a while now (he spent two years playing in Uzbekistan). However to see the former Brazilian legend, and former Barcelona and AC Milan playmaker playing in such an inferior league, and for a club that by all accounts is quite modest even by Angolan standards is a massive shock.