Good stuff...must read.
Allthought i dont agree that Sven-Goran Eriksson should be #1. Maybe he shouldn´t be in the list at all. Well, Observer is English newspaper, what more can we expect from them?
Sunday June 6, 2004
1: Sven-Goran Eriksson
'I've enjoyed Sweden, Portugal and Italy over the years,' says Sven, 'and now most definitely feel at home in England!' (and, presumably, in Sweden, Portugal and Italy, where he still owns homes). But for now, after a seven-club career, Sven's a Londoner, living in a £3million grade II-listed villa bordering Regent's Park, with lush gardens, a chauffeur and Nancy. In March, when he was caught talking to Chelsea, the Football Association hit Sven hard with a £1.5m-a-year pay rise: £4m a year until 2008, with incentives and a get-out clause after 12 months. 'Can we ever trust him?' asked the Sun. 'Erik the Eel could slither off at any time ... '
2: Fabrizio Ravanelli
Rav loved Middlesbrough: 'Middlesbrough gave me so much love - and all I have for these fans is love. They must understand that.' He loved Marseille: 'I don't want to go back to England. I love Marseille: it is my own little paradise.' He loved Middlesbrough again: 'I'd love to go back. I want everyone at Middlesbrough to understand their town is like a dream to me. I have the love of those fans under my skin.' But Derby was The One. 'I love Derby County, I love the city and I love the fans. It's a beautiful place because its people are beautiful. I will put my heart forward for this club - and maybe I will play for free? Money is not important to me...' Now: after a fling with Dundee ('I love the style of football in Scotland... and I love Scotland') Rav's back at Perugia. 'I love Perugia,' he says. 'It's where my heart is.'
3: Luis Figo
Barcelona to Real Madrid for £72k a week after tax: a simple business decision? 'It is unpardonable in the eyes of God,' said a Barça fans group. 'The pesetero swaps his heart for money!' 'I can never forgive this,' said Barça president Joan Gaspart. 'I don't want this to sound like a threat, but someone who does this to me will pay.' On his return to the Camp Nou in 2002, Figo faced flying bottles, a knife and a pig's head. One of the banners read: 'We hate you so much because we loved you so much.' 'My conscience is clear,' said Figo. 'I thought uniquely of myself.'
4: Benito Carbone
Fourteen clubs and Benito loved them all - but Bradford was pure, animal lust. 2 February 2002: 'I love Bradford, the fans and the players - and they love me. We're one big family. I signed for four years and I'm staying.' 4 February: 'I'm always happy here, I'm settled with my family and I'm staying. The fans love me and I say thank you with the goal - that was for those fans.' 6 February: Joins Middlesbrough. 'I think of my experience in England utterly positively,' says Benito, whose Sheffield Wednesday team-mates wrote 'Beni - RIP' on the dressing-room wall. 'I've always been a perfect professional. People say I'm crazy, but I'm normal. They're the crazy ones.'
Injured for 33 months, Ronaldo's constant solace was the love of 'my second father', Internazionale president Massimo Moratti. Moratti funded treatment, counselling and £75,000-a-week wages for the whole period - so when Italian papers suggested the newly fit striker would walk out for Real Madrid, Moratti scoffed. 'I just don't believe what I've been reading! There's only one truth: Ronaldo is Inter, and that's that.' 'It's true,' said Ronaldo's agent Alexandre Martins. 'There are neither negotiations nor bids with Real.' He signed for them 22 days later. 'This,' said Gazzetta dello Sport , 'is the last outrage in a football world devoid of moral values.' 'He arrived like a king,' said Corriere dello Sport. 'He leaves like a thief.'
6: Pierre Van Hooijdonk
'£7,000 a week,' said Pierre, quitting Celtic in 1997, 'would be fine for the homeless. But not for me.' Instead, he joined Forest for £4.5m, then went on strike for 11 games saying the team was sub-standard. After moves to Arnhem, then Benfica, in June 2003 he sued Forest for £650,000, including a £50,000 'loyalty bonus'. He then threatened to go on strike at Feyenoord, unless they let him move to Birmingham. 'I have no regrets about what I did in England,' says Pierre. 'Nottingham tried to be the boss - I just used player power.'
7: Charlie Mitten
Manchester United's 1948 FA Cup winning left-winger took on the maximum wage and lost. After Matt Busby refused to bend the rules, Mitten followed his heart to Santa Fe in Bogotá for a £5,000 signing-on fee, £100 a week, a flat and a car. With Colombia a non-Fifa country, Mitten was branded a football outlaw, forced home, banned for six months, fined £250 and dubbed the 'Bogotá Bandit'. 'Once you'd crossed Matt,' said Mitten, 'you didn't come back.' He joined Fulham then Mansfield, and later managed Newcastle. He died aged 80 in 2002.
8: Robbie Fowler
Caught clubbing in November 'so wrecked that he snorted salt for his tequila up his nose', Fowler - owner of 84 buy-to-let properties and a £2m mansion - revealed in January last year how he was snubbing Manchester City. 'I've had great backing from the Leeds fans - I thought and thought and it just didn't seem right.' Thirteen days later, it seemed fine: £35,000 a week, plus £10,000-a-week top-up from Leeds, in return for nine goals in 16 months. 'I knew City was the club for me.'
9: Alf Common
Alf did it with dignity: five clubs and the world's first £1,000 transfer fee quietly established the link between cash and loyalty. Starting at Sunderland, he joined Sheffield United in 1901 for £325, returned to Sunderland in 1904 for £520, then signed for Middlesbrough, in 1905, for £1,000. The fee - 'flesh and blood for sale' - stunned polite society; Parliament asked: 'Where will it all end?' Alf's roving eye helped open up football's transfer market and made it all possible, a century later, for Benito and Rav. He died in April 1946.
10: Winston Bogarde
Winston's a one-club loyalist: 'Yes, I could play first-team football elsewhere, but why should I?' Instead he's made £40,000 a week from Chelsea since 2000 and started four games. Life is hard: dropped from the reserves, he now commutes to youth-team training from Amsterdam. When his contract finishes this month, he will have earned £8.3m. 'I am the biggest outcast in England,' he says. 'I often feel I am stuck in a tunnel, that I'm wearing a straitjacket. I can't move, can't turn over, can't even look back. So I walk on, on to the light, to the end of the career, to freedom.'