We all have them, those players you just have to sign when you start a new game of Championship Manager.
Few things in life elicit quite so much loyalty as finding a player on the game you can rely on to consistently do the business.
To celebrate Championship Manager turning 27 this week, @Sid_Lambert has selected five of his favourite laptop legends…
Tommy Svindal Larsen
In the late nineties, English football had cottoned onto the fact that Scandinavia was a bargain hunter’s dream. And Championship Manager 97/98 was no exception.
Norwegian minnow Stabaeck was the home of an unknown midfield powerhouse called Tommy Svindal Larsen. His stats were mightily impressive, his average ratings even better. But could he cut it at a higher level?
Of course he could. Larsen was a traditional Norse warrior. And like his ancestors, he thought nothing of storming onto foreign lands and stealing their treasures.
It didn’t matter whether you were Zidane, Rivaldo or Veron, if you got in Tommy Svindal’s way then you got the treatment. He would crunch your bones defending his own goal, then carve your defence into pieces with one magnificent swing of his trusty left boot.
He would march his team forward to glory, stuffing his bags with silverware along the way.
— Proper Football (@sid_lambert) April 8, 2017
On Championship Manager 97/98 he was the first and best signing you could ever make. A manager’s dream. He was like Polyfilla with peroxide hair. If there was a gap in your team, Alexandersson would fill it – and with the minimum of fuss. Nothing fancy. A solid 7/10 every single week.
Long before James Milner made it fashionable, Alexandersson was the original squad player. Very few in the Champ Man universe were bestowed with the honour of being equally efficient in defence, midfield, or attack. And on either flank too, just for good measure.
Where was his best position? On the bench probably. And if you ask fans of Sheffield Wednesday or Everton, whom Alexandersson represented in real life, that probably sounds about right.
Still, it was always good to have him around. The Swede was like the trusty armchair in your first flat. At the time he was absolutely essential, the bedrock of your future plans.
Then as time passed, and a fancy new sofa and coffee table arrived, it would move to the periphery. Every once in a while, you’d think about selling it but couldn’t bring yourself to do so. Just in case.
Was he real or was he fake? More importantly, did anyone really care? On Championship Manager 01/02, To Madeira became something of an urban legend.
He was a world-class striker playing for Gouveia in the Portuguese pub leagues. You could sign him for chump change and he’d win you the Champions League with his sensational goal-a-game strike rate.
Unfortunately, there was one small problem with To. He didn’t fucking exist. And when you’re purporting to be the most realistic football management simulator of all time, that’s a real dent in your reputation.
It transpired that To was the brainchild of Champ Man’s local researcher Antonio Lopez, a youth player at Gouveia who hadn’t quite made the grade.
Blessed with an opportunity to put right what once went wrong, Lopez broke the two golden rules of Championship Manager researchers: (i) Don’t put yourself on the database, and (ii) If you do, don’t make yourself the best player in the world.
To restore credibility, Madeira was removed from later patches of the game. But his legacy lives on. He was real to me, dammit. He was real to me.
Today the Champ Man universe celebrates an icon. Rumour has it he was a fake, a phoney. The figment of a rogue scout’s imagination.
Bollocks to that.
Happy Birthday To Madeira. You were the fucking best. And you were real to us. You were real to us… pic.twitter.com/Nii8Jt3GqJ
— Proper Football (@sid_lambert) February 9, 2019
The Belarussian striker was like the Terminator. He couldn’t be reasoned with. He couldn’t be bargained with. He knew no sorrow, or pain, or remorse. His only purpose was to score goals. Shitloads of them.
At the start of the game you could pick him up for peanuts from Eastern Europe and drop him immediately in your first team. And then it began. The metronomic magnificence of a guaranteed goal machine.
For 15+ years Tsigalko would terrorise goalkeepers across the globe. There was no glitch in the system, no blue pill or red pill, no John Connor or Neo to come to the rescue.
Defenders’ reputations were razed to the ground. No one could stop him. Not Stam, nor Nesta, nor Cannavaro. The only people who came close were the Home Office, whose baffling work permit criteria would sometimes delay his arrival in the Premier League.
Even they gave up eventually. There was no stopping Tsigalko.
For fans of Championship Manager 01/02 there was a familiar rhythm to any new odyssey: Load Game. Choose Club. Search free transfers. Sign Taribo West.
Despite his somewhat nomadic past, the Nigerian journeyman was the most sought-after free agent in this version of the game. He’d seen it, done it and got the t-shirt. Now he needed a new challenge.
Best of all, he wasn’t too fussed about where it was. He was a gun for hire. As long as you met his price, he’d bring his dreadlocks and destruction anywhere from Roma to Rushden.
There wasn’t too much finesse about Taribo. Stats like aggression and bravery can attest to that. He was a defender’s defender. A sworn enemy of creativity whose first touch was a tackle and that was just the way he liked it.
Later in life he became a pastor. In Champ Man he lived by his own mantra: Taribo 3:16. Fucking Get Stuck In.