Top 5 Shortest Stays At Football Clubs
With rumours circulating that Joleon Lescott is already unsettled at West Bromwich Albion – after just four weeks with the club – we look at other players who’ve beaten a hasty retreat shortly after signing for a new team.
Eyebrows were raised when Sven Goran Eriksson took over as manager of League 2’s Notts County, and one of his first transfer coups was former England centre-back Sol Campbell. Upon joining, the former Arsenal and Spurs defender claimed “the club have got great ambition and I want to be part of it”. And he was. For one game. He hastily departed Meadow Lane after a debut loss to Morecambe and wound up at the less ambitious Arsenal for a second stint at the club.
In the summer of 1980 Arsenal’s main transfer target was Crystal Palace right-back Kenny Samson. So they signed, err, Clive Allen. Hold on, this is going somewhere. As was Allen. The young striker’s signing from QPR after a prolific spell in the second tier at Loftus Road bewildered Arsenal fans, particularly as the fee of £1.25 million seemed steep.
He made three pre-season appearances before a surprise deal was agreed between the Gunners and Palace, where Arsenal swapped Allen for Samson. Rumours at the time suggested it was part of an elaborate plan, as Rangers initially refused to sell Allen to their rivals Palace. Either way, the forward went on to haunt Arsenal, scoring three goals for bitter rivals Spurs in the 1987 League Cup semi-finals – three of 49 goals he scored that record-breaking season.
Ali Dia was allegedly George Weah’s cousin, once removed. And that removal came during a pathetic display for Southampton in a 1996 league clash with Leeds United. Saints boss Graeme Souness had signed Dia after a phone call supposedly from Weah, claiming “his cousin” was a Senegalese international that could be of use to the club.
Souness, with no questions asked, gave him a month’s contract and threw him on for Matt Le Tissier after 32 minutes against Leeds. He lasted 21 minutes, quickly withdrawn by Souness when it became apparent that he had been duped. Le Tissier commented that Dia “ran around the pitch like Bambi on Ice, it was very embarrassing”. He was immediately released and made eight appearances for Gateshead before hanging up his boots.
One of the murkiest transfer sagas in Premier League history, Hamann signed on a free transfer for Bolton Wanderers on 11th July 2006 before promptly leaving for Manchester City the following day. Wanderers were paid £400,000 in compensation for their inconvenience and that was that.
Until a few years later their chairman Phil Gartside admitted that the club had never officially signed the German, with his registration papers “just put in a draw”. It seemed Bolton made 400 grand for a day’s work for doing nothing – figures even Wayne Rooney can only dream about.
Robert Jarni – legendary Croatian full-back with 81 caps, just finished third at the 1998 World Cup, Juventus alumni – at Coventry City? Yeah, it was too good to be true. He signed at Highfield Road from Real Betis for £2.6 million after an impressive World Cup but Real Madrid quickly stepped in and offered the Sky Blues £3.4 million for him.
In circumstances similar to Allen’s above, Betis cried foul, alleging Madrid had been in cahoots with Coventry all along to sign a player they refused to sell to Real. City were unperturbed, turning an 800 grand profit on a player who hadn’t even made an appearance for the club.