After recently loading up an old game of Football Manager 2012, (that saw a 38-year-old Steven Gerrard break Messi’s leg in a Champions League Final victory) I noticed a number of world-beating players that haven’t actually done much where it counts; in real life.
I thought then, that I’d compile the ultimate list of my FM greats who sadly failed to make the grade. Baring in mind, these players have shone for me during various epic football manager stints, and I’m not including players I never managed (it was difficult to type ‘managed’ then… I’m not one of those who dons a suit for a virtual League Cup Final).
So here goes… My own tribute to the greats:
Sherman Cardenas: Great name (Which is partly how I think the makers rank youngsters,) and an absolute joke of a player on the game. Had stats like Pirlo or Iniesta as an 18-year-old, and could be picked up on a free from an unknown Colombian club. The fact that ‘Is Sherman Cardenas real?’ is the most common Google search involving his name, shows that his legend will seemingly only live on in a computer game.
Where is he now? At 23, he has been shipped around five clubs in Colombia, and is now at his local team, Atletico Nacional. Scored 17 goals in 16 matches for Colombia’s U20’s, but that’s sadly all he’s ever done of any note. If he lived up to his billing, he’d be running the midfield of a European giant by now.
Fabio Paim: For me, THE best player to grace the (pretend) game. I remember it well: It was CM4, and Fabio Paim started as 13-year-old Portuguese winger. My friend was at the computer, and called me over, because ‘I had to see something,’ as if he’d found some Roman gold in the garden. He hadn’t, he’d found Fabio Paim, which at the time, was probably better. Paim was essentially a cheat, because he played a ‘10’ every single game. I never played for long enough to even see him reach his twenties, but he’d already bagged around 150 goals.
Where is he now? The 25-year-old never made an appearance for Sporting Lisbon, who loaned him out to 9 different clubs. He now plays in Qatar for Al Kharaitiyat, and has scored the grand-total of one professional goal. He has suffered from weight-problems and accusations of ridiculous wage-demands. Saying that, it would have gone to my head too!
Cherno Samba: Scored 132 goals in 32 games for his London school side, prompting a rumoured £2million bid from Liverpool for his services as a 16-year-old! On the game, he was a young English Didier Drogba, but with twice the pace. If he was as good in real life, Francis Jeffers may have never got an England cap. Starting at Millwall with Moses Ashikodi, they became two of the best strikers in the game. One wonders what kind of mood the FM developers were in when they called the Millwall academy for a player description that morning.
Where is he now? Turned out for England at every youth level, but never scored a goal. He never played for Milwall, or for his next club, Cadiz. In 2008, he made the probably sensible decision to play for Gambia, as an England call wasn’t on the horizon. Saying that, Emile Heskey did go to that years’ World Cup. Samba now plays for FK Tønsberg in the Norwegian second division. In the last 11-years, the 27-year-old has scored one professional goal!
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