The transfer market changed beyond recognition in the 2000s – and we remember some of the maddest transfers of the decade in the latest episode of The Broken Metatarsal.
Rich Williams, Mark Holmes and Pete Farries are joined by former footballer and now-broadcaster Martin Gritton to reminisce about the transfers that made us say ‘wow’, the moves that made us exclaim, and the deals that just screamed ‘dodgy’.
We also recall a crazy 2000s transfer involving each of our own clubs – Leeds United, Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Celtic – that stands out above the rest, while a couple of post-2000s transfers also get a mention.
There’s no Fact or Fiction in this final episode of series two, but Paul Konchesky returns to the pod with some memories of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano’s arrival at West Ham, while we replay part of Michael Ball’s interview about a crazy time at Manchester City which saw three Thai players sign but never play.
Listen to the episode below for stories including Javier Mascherano’s unusual approach to moving house, Carlos Tevez’s golf trips and Lionel Messi’s boots gracing the turf at Macclesfield Town, but here’s a list of all the crazy transfers we discuss to whet your appetite.
Faubert thought it was a wind-up when he got a received a call from Real Madrid – and who can blame him? It was 2009 and he was mainly serving as understudy to Lucas Neill at West Ham, but somehow he quickly found himself holding up a Real shirt alongside a bemused-looking Alfredo Di Stefano.
He also later had to deny accusations that he’d fallen asleep on the Bernabeu bench, using the classic dad excuse that he was just resting his eyes for 30 seconds.
Sticking with the ‘WTF’ theme, Mears was playing in the Championship with Derby County at the start of 2008-09 when he upset Paul Jewell by turning up for a trial without permission…at Marseille.
How that interest came about is anyone’s guess, but Mears ultimately moved on loan for the season only to miss most of it through injury.
Both ‘wow’ and ‘WTF’, it was quite something when World Cup winner and former Milan and Barcelona forward Christophe Dugarry turned up at struggling Birmingham City in 2003 to form an unlikely partnership with Geoff Horsfield.
Dugarry wasn’t keen on rowing machines or club tracksuits, it turns out, but he was still so good in just 30 games that he earned himself a place in Birmingham’s Hall of Fame. It’s a spell definitely worthy of celebration.
We were shocked to remember this even happened in the 2000s, but Manchester United did indeed sign a nearly-37-year-old Goram from Motherwell in 2001 amid a goalkeeper injury crisis.
He actually played a couple of times, too, though amusingly was substituted in both games to allow Raimond van der Gouw to accumulate the requisite number of appearances for a Premier League winner’s medal that season.
Bolton Wanderers managed to even outdo Dugarry to Birmingham in the 2000s by signing not one, not two, but basically half a team of previously world-class stars.
Fernando Hierro and Ivan Campo were good, but we’ll never not enjoy remembering a Bolton attack containing both Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff.
Moving into the ‘dodgy’ territory, Thai businessman Thaksin Shinawatra promised “world domination” when he bought out Manchester City in 2007, but we’re still quite not sure what role his countrymen Teerasil Dangda, Kiatprawut Saiwaeo and Suree Sukha were meant to play in that.
The only time any of them pulled on a City shirt was for a post-season friendly against a Thai League All-Stars XI – and we spoke to Michael Ball about what was a strange time to be at the club.
Another dodgy one, Mikel never even actually joined Manchester United yet Chelsea still had to pay their Premier League rivals £12million when they signed the young midfielder from Lyn Oslo in 2006.
Mikel actually wore a United shirt to a press conference but eventually turned down Sir Alex Ferguson to team up with Jose Mourinho instead – imagine having to make that choice as an 18-year-old.
A last-minute mention in this week’s episode, Mark names Figo’s move from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 as the maddest noughties transfer of all, leading to that famous pig’s head episode when the Portugal winger returned to the Nou Camp wearing white.
Probably the dodgiest deals in Premier League history, West Ham eventually had to pay Sheffield United £20million in compensation after Carlos Tevez helped them stay up at the Blades’ expense in 2007, with both the striker and his Argentina team-mate Javier Mascherano owned by third parties – four in total between the two players, all of which had a connection to Kia Joorabchian.
But we have already established such transfer shithousery should be celebrated if it means players of the quality of Tevez and Mascherano playing for West Ham. And their arrival also provided Martin with a couple of wonderful anecdotes involving golf, translators, house moves, Pablo Zabaleta’s mate and Lionel Messi’s boots at Macclesfield.
Listen to the latest episode of The Broken Metatarsal to find out what that’s all about or find us on Audioboom, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, CastBox, Deezer and RadioPublic among other providers, where you can hear plenty more episodes in which we celebrate the best of noughties football.