by Tom Stewart
Football has occasionally crossed the small but significant divide into mainstream media via films, television, and back in the day- comics. Fictional footballers are often portrayed as having quite frankly ridiculous levels of skill and are caught up in scenarios that even Mario Balotelli would deem ‘over the top’
Here are our top 10 fictional footballers
10. Jack Scully- Neighbours
Prior to his on-screen introduction in 2001, Jack (played by Jay Bunyan) was often talked about by his family as a ‘champion footballer’ for the fictional ‘Barnsford FC’ in England, with his family often staying up into the small hours to watch his performances. However, they later learnt that he had disappeared from England and was living in New Zealand. He made his entrance to suburban Melbourne and announced that he had quit football. His life kind of spiralled out of control, having numerous relationships and was involved in a storyline where he was addicted to ‘nightclubs and drugs’ He left to join ‘Nina’ (played by Delta Goodrem) for a new life in America. Since then, in true soap form, he has missed numerous family weddings and funerals.
9. Johnny Dexter- Roy of the Rovers/Dexter’s Dozen
Dexter appeared in strip called “The Hard Man” in the popular “Roy of the Rovers” comics. Known for his rugged style of play and fiery temper, he initially played for ‘Danefield United’ before transferring to Spanish side “Real Granpala”. He was often involved in off-field slapstick comedy, including one incident when he flew to Italy to discuss a transfer to a team there, however, he decided against a move and was imprisoned. He was then forced to try and flee the country dressed in drag. He later joined Melchester Rovers, after the majority of the team was killed in a terrorist attack.
8. Masal Bugduv- The Internet
It is a testament to the power of the internet that this kind of thing can happen. Bugdev was a footballer created by a group of internet users, who decided that they would invent a footballer and see what happened. They created an entire back story for the 16 year old, with a wikipedia page and forged press reports (including that Arsenal were heavily linked with the ‘wonderkid’). The Times featured him in a “Top 50 Rising Stars” article, and he was also featured in When Saturday Comes and Goal.Com. It is now seen as a satirical gesture aimed at the absurdity of the football transfer market.
7. Didier Baptiste- Dream Team/The Internet
Baptiste was a character in Sky One’s football soap opera- “Dream Team”. He was billed as a player who had transferred to Harchester United from Monaco in 1999, however he left for Marseille after being caught up in a match fixing scandal where he purposely missed a later penalty. The story doesn’t stop there. Back in the real world, various newspapers, including The News of the World, The Times and The Guardian, were all drawn into a hoax started from an Arsenal fans website, into reporting that Liverpool were on the verge of signing the ‘French u-21 international’ Baptiste for £3.5m
6. Mark collis/Ferah Orosco/To Madeira- Championship Manager
The Championship Manager/Football Manager series is one of the most popular in sports computer game history. It was not uncommon ‘back in the day’ when the game was at its best (yeah? what?) for developers to insert fictional footballers into the game, who would often turn out to be absolutely incredible. Madeira was available on the 01/02 version of the game and was created by researcher Antonio Lopez. Madeira was an absolute goal machine and was usually available for next to nothing, he was removed from later versions. Collis and Orosco were both fictional players on the 93/94 version of the game, both played for Cambridge United.
5. Corporal Luis Fernandez- Escape to Victory
Corporal Luis Fernandez, played by Pele, appeared in the war/football hybrid film “Escape to Victory“. Fernandez was supposedly from Trinidad, despite clearly being Brazilian. The film included actors who couldn’t play football (Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine) and footballers who couldn’t act (Pele, Bobby Moore, Ossie Ardilles alongside, for some reason, loads of Ipswich Town players). The team of allied prisoners devised a plan whereby they would play a team of Nazi guards in Paris, and escape at half time. Despite having the opportunity to escape, they decide to carry on and try to win the game (despite some nazi-friendly refereeing). They end up drawing the game 4-4 after Stallone (playing Captain Robert Hatch) saves a penalty despite showing absolutely no goalkeeping prowess whatsoever. Fernandez has a late goal disallowed, but the Allies escaped amidst the confusion of a post-game pitch invasion.
4. Karl Fletcher- Dream Team
Fletcher was the most popular character in “Dream Team” and was a Harchester United legend. Working his way into the first team as a youngster, Fletcher overcame a period of drug experimentation to become a hero at the club, scoring 152 goals in 323 games. After being wrongly accused of murder, he moved to Real Mallorca, playing 21 games and scoring 16 goals, before returning to Harchester. Several affairs/trials/default soap opera bullsh*t later, and he was off again, this time to Saudi Arabia (he had become a bit fat and poor by this point), before finally returning for a third spell at Harchester. He was then murdered by his Manager (?!) and then, in later series acted as a ‘spiritual advisor’ to Jason Porter (yes, yes I mean he was a ghost). It was only upon writing the article that I remembered how utterly ridiculous ‘Dream Team’ really was.
3. The Hurricanes- The Hurricanes
The Hurricanes was a cartoon featuring a team of superstar footballers competing in the “World League” whilst simultaneously partaking in exotic adventures and saving the world from the evil Stavros Garkos. Garkos owned the Garkos Gargoyles and would constantly use them to try and steal the Hurricanes’ reputation as the worlds best football team. He would use dirty tricks (multiple kidnappings) or try and tarnish the reputation of the Hurricanes. His main motive seemed to be (along with financial) to prove to the world that football is a Greek sport.
2. Santiago Muñez- Goal
Santiago was some sort of Cristiano Ronaldo/Lionel Messi hybrid who for some reason was unnoticed for years, until a former scout happened to spot him playing football in Los Angeles. He earned a moved to Newcastle, but was initially released following a poor trial (he had asthma and a jealous player broke his inhaler). But following an intervention by star man “Gavin Harris” he was given a second chance. His quite frankly unrealistic ability helped his side qualify for the Champions League. In Goal II, he earns a big money move to Real Madrid, but upon discovering his half brother, and mother, his life becomes complicated. He bounces back and helps his side win the Champions League. The film features a bizarre scene in which Thomas Gravesen (who was at Real at the time) frolics in a jacuzzi. Also, viewers can see some AWFUL acting from the likes of Alan Shearer, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham (footballers should never, EVER act). Oh- and an odd Geordie accent from Anna Friel. Apparently he moved to Tottenham in Goal III, but absolutely no-one watched it so I’m not sure it happened.
1. Roy Race- Roy of the Rovers
Roy Race, star of the “Roy of the Rovers” comic book, has an absolutely ridiculous record in football. In his first spell at “Melchester Rovers” he scored 200 goals in 245 games, before a 45 goals in 21 games spell at “Walford Rovers”, and a second spell at Melchester where he banged in 236 goals in 256 games. His international record was 43 games, 52 goals. He also survived TWO comas (one unfortunately led to his foot being amputated, ending his playing career) and was put in charge of Melchester following a terrorist attack which wiped out the team. Pretty realistic.