Last week, I charted the careers of ten Championship Manager cult heroes who had failed to reach the big time. This week, I’ll be looking at another ten virtual sensations who found footballing success elusive…
Current Club: PAS Giannina
Country/Caps: Ivory Coast/45
CM said: Africa’s greatest ever player
In reality: Known as ‘Baka-Joke-O’ and ‘Yoko-OhNo!’ amongst Everton fans, PAS Giannina forward Ibrahima Bakayoko has carved himself a reputation as somewhat of a journeyman. An infamous late ‘90s spell at Everton was unfruitful, with the Ivorian bagging just four league goals for the Merseyside outfit after a £4.5m move from French side Montpellier. After eight months in England, Bakayoko returned to France, where he enjoyed a moderately successful four-year stay at Marseille.
Bakayoko, scorer of 30 goals in 45 appearances for the Ivory Coast, enjoyed varying degrees of success throughout the noughties, having turned out for Osasuna, FC Istres, Livorno, Messina, Larissa and PAOK.
Current Club: AIK
CM said: the eventual successor to David Beckham at Old Trafford
In reality: After being awarded the ‘Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year’ award in 2000, big things were expected from the then 18-year-old Bojan Djordjic. The Serbian-born former Swedish U21 international left Manchester United having made just two senior appearances in six years at the club, with this time punctuated by loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, AGF, Red Star Belgrade and Rangers.
Djordjic moved to Plymouth Argyle on a free transfer, where he made 40 appearances over the course of two years at Home Park. However, Djordjic was placed on the transfer list by manager Ian Holloway due to his lax attitude, and eventually moved to Swedish side AIK, where he recently helped the club to the first league and cup double in their history.
Current Club: Unattached
CM said: The Welsh Roberto Carlos
In reality: Tipped as one for the future during his Peterborough United days, Welshman Gareth Jelleyman has endured a career of mediocrity. After making over 100 appearances for ‘the Posh’, Jelleyman moved on to Mansfield Town in 2005. Following Mansfield’s relegation from the Football League in 2008, Jelleyman made the move to Rushden & Diamonds. A short spell at Rushden has since been followed by stints at both Telford United and Barrow.
The left-back has gained notoriety amongst fans of English football show Soccer Saturday, after presenter Jeff Stelling referred to the then Mansfield Town man’s dismissal in a league match by stating “looks like Jelleyman’s thrown a wobbler.”
Current Club: Aris Limassol
CM said: a mixture of late-nineties Michael Owen and David Villa
In reality: Three-time Romanian Cup winner Adrian Mihalcea, now winding down his career at Cypriot side Aris Limassol, will look back at his career and wonder about what could have been. The speedy forward came to prominence at leading Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest, where he scored 68 goals in a glorious five-year spell at the capital club. Mihalcea earned his first cap whilst at Dinamo, but failed to score in sixteen outings for the national side. Mihalcea was snapped up by Italian side Genoa in 2001, and managed to finish his first full season at Genoa as the club’s top scorer before moving to Hellas Verona.
However, the Romanian struggled at Verona and moved back to Dinamo Bucharest, where he failed to hit the heights of his first spell. This was followed by a brief stint at Korean side Chunnam Dragons, before again returning to Romania with FC Vaslui. Mihalcea moved to current side Aris Limassol in 2006, and has been nothing short of a revelation in the Cypriot first division, having scored 46 goals in 86 appearances and being appointed club captain.
Current Club: Alianza Lima
CM said: skilful, goalscoring midfielder a la mid-noughties Ronaldinho
In reality: At 16, Montaño had the world at his feet. Capped for the Colombian national side at the age of 15, Montaño then went on to star at the 1999 Copa America, and managed to score in Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Argentina. Montaño earned his big-money move to Europe (with Italian side Parma) and was set to become one of the best players of his generation.
Unfortunately, Montaño failed to develop as expected in Italy. The Colombian made just six appearances in five years at Parma, and has since embarked upon a nomadic career. Since leaving Parma, Montaño has had spells at América de Cali, Santa Fe, Al-Wakra, Cortulua, Sport Boys and Alianza Lima, whilst failing to add to his five caps for Colombia.
Current Club: Blackpool
CM said: the next Alan Shearer
In reality: Having made just four competitive outings for Manchester United over the course of three seasons, Nardiello permanently joined Barnsley after two loan spells at the Yorkshire side. His good form at Barnsley led to international recognition, with Nardiello making his debut for Wales against New Zealand in May 2007. Despite earning fans’ favourite status at Oakwell, Nardiello invoked the wrath of Barnsley chairman Gordon Shepherd by moving to Queens Park Rangers.
After failing to settle at Loftus Road, Nardiello moved to Blackpool in the summer of 2008. Nardiello has made just seven league appearances for the newly-promoted Premier League side, and has been shipped out on loan to Hartlepool United, Bury and Oldham Athletic over the course of the past two seasons.
Current Club: Wroxham
CM said: Manchester United’s next number nine
In reality: Another hotly-tipped graduate of Manchester United’s academy, Alex Notman failed to make the grade at the top-level. The presence of the likes of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer meant that Notman failed to make a single appearance for the Old Trafford outfit, and the Scotsman left for Norwich City in November 2000. After regular outings in his first two seasons at Carrow Road, Notman was forced to retire from the professional game after badly damaging ankle ligaments during an East Anglian derby in late 2002.
Since then Notman has competed at non-league level, turning out for King’s Lynn, Boston United, and more recently, Norfolk side Wroxham.
Current Club: Unattached
CM said: Malta’s first ever football superstar (approximately 365 times better than Michael Mifsud)
In reality: Nigerian-born Nwoko, a naturalised Maltese national, struggled to forge a career outside of the tiny Mediterranean island. Nwoko spent 11 years at Birkirkara, making over 200 appearances and scoring 59 goals, as well as winning three Maltese league titles. The midfielder also managed to rack up 46 caps for his adopted homeland, managing to score once in a friendly against Kazakhstan in 2003. A firm fans’ favourite at the club, Nwoko underwent an unsuccessful loan spell at Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia in 2006, before leaving Birkirkara permanently in 2006.
Since then, Nwoko has endured injury-plagued spells at Maltese sides Marsaxlokk, Sliema Wanderors and Qormi. Due to injury, the midfielder has failed to appear since his contract at Qormi expired in the summer of 2009, leading to suggestions that Nwoko may have hung up his boots for the last time.
Current Club: IFK Göteborg
CM said: the Swedish Robert Pires
In reality: Attacking midfielder-cum-forward Stefan Selakovic is yet another Championship Manager Swede to have disappointed in real life. His early career was marked by domestic success, having won the Swedish league title with Halmstads in 2000 and finishing as the league’s top scorer in 2001. This attracted the interest of Dutch side Heerenveen, who subsequently signed Selakovic in 2001.
Despite spending four years at the Eredivisie club, Selakovic was unable to reproduce the form he had shown at Halmstads, and returned to Sweden to join current club IFK Göteborg in 2005, where he has managed to add another Swedish league winners’ medal to his collection. Selakovic managed 12 appearances for the Swedish national side during 2001 and 2006, scoring four times in the process.
Current Club: Retired
CM said: Better than (fat) Ronaldo
In reality: Destined for greatness in Championship Manager 3, the actual career of retired Icelandic forward Andri Sigþórsson failed to mirror that of his virtual one. After languishing in Bayern Munich’s reserve side, Sigþórsson moved back to hometown club KR, where he enjoyed four prolific seasons.
Capped seven times for Iceland, Sigþórsson spent the last three years of his career abroad, first at Austrian side SV Salzburg, and latterly at Norwegian outfit FK Molde. Unfortunately, Sigþórsson’s career was cut short by serious injury in 2004.
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