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They might not be the biggest of spenders in League One now but that doesn’t really mean Gillingham never had deep(er) pockets. But it is also quite telling that all of their biggest signings have come in the late ‘90s and the early 2000s. Their record transfer, for example, still dates back to the 1998/99 season.
In the summer of 1998, the Gills acquired the signature of Carl Asaba from Reading for an incredible fee of £797,000, setting a record that would last for over 20 years into the future. They did, however, come fairly close to eclipsing it just a couple of campaigns later by signing Paul Shaw from Millwall for £518,000 and Chris Hope for £428,000 in 2000/01.
Those three players are still their top three signings in the history of the club and only the arrival of Charlie Lee in 2011/12 for £270,000 comes remotely close to them in the last decade. But still, there are some more impressive transfers among the exits.
In 2012/13 they sold Paulo Gazzaniga to Southampton for a club record sum of £2.8m, beating the previous record that was set in 2003/04 when Marlon King departed the team for £1.2m, leaving to Nottingham Forest.
Bradley Dack was also sold to Blackburn Rovers in 2017/18, making them £765,000 in the process and he rounds off the top three sales at the club.
When talking about some of the most famous Gillingham transfers, it’s difficult not to mention both record holders – Asaba for his grand arrival in 1998 and Gazzaniga for the incredibly lucrative departure in 2012. But even though they stand out with their sheer price tags, they may not really be in the pantheon of the most popular and most influential signings at the club.
But we do have to mention the likes of Andy Hessenthaler, who joined from Watford in 1996 and even became a player-manager, finally stepping down in 2004, or Robert Taylor who was also active in the late ‘90s.
And there are more, of course: Paul Smith, Marlon King, Tony Cascarino or John Simpson between the sticks. One thing is for sure, Gillingham definitely had their fair share of icons arrive at the club throughout the years.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Gills.