|As Marcus Burnett said in Bad Boys II - 'Shit just got real!' This might just be the toughest vote of them all. Three or four players in this list could easily make a challenge for the best player in the game ever, never mind having to fight it out over just one position – the AMC role.
One of those players who could easily walk into any CM/FM team in any version of the game is Nii Lamptey. Available from the ‘foreign transfer market’ on Championship Manager 93 from Belgium, the 19-year-old from Ghana was so good that he was dubbed the next Pelé, which is fine unless it is Pelé who is doing the endorsing. The Brazilian legend has a knack of getting his predictions wrong (see Freddy Adu).
Lamptey was the first real cult hero of CM/FM. After a tough childhood where he was abused and neglected by his parents, Lamptey was then abused by those responsible for guiding his career as agents and money men tossed him around from club to club (including spells in England for Aston Villa and Coventry City) just to line their own pockets.
Although Lamptey never became Pelé’s ‘natural successor’ he did take the positives from his love of the game to open a school and training academy in his homeland which is now thriving and doing some very good work.
Another player from CM93 who seemingly had the world at his feet was Billy Kenny. Dubbed the ‘Goodison Gazza’ by Peter Beardsley after a scintillating performance in the Merseyside Derby, Kenny could have gone all the way and was an excellent midfield general on the computer screen. But his real life demons would wreck his football career as he was sacked from Everton for substance abuse. A brief spell with Oldham Athletic didn't help put him on the straight and narrow and he is commonly recognised as one of the biggest waste of talents in the British game.
Willie Howie was maybe the best player of a randomly superb Partick Thistle team in Championship Manager 3 alongside Alan Archibald and Robert Dunn. Howie was the driving force from midfield, chipping in with goals and assists and generally making your team tick. These days the team he makes tick is called Pollock, which last time I checked was a fish.
A couple of real corkers turned up in Championship Manager 99/00 by the names of Kim Kallstrom and Kevin Street. As fans of CM/FM, for years we have been waiting for Kallstrom to live up to the player we all know so well and then last season he finally arrived in the Premier League with Arsenal and… did very little to be honest. He had a good spell with Lyon, but that doesn’t really compare to the spell he had with Barcelona in the computer game now does it? As for Street, he could be plucked from Crewe Alexandra and become your very own Frank Lampard for many a year. In reality Street dropped down the leagues from Stafford Rangers to Altrincham, and now Alsager Town.
Next up is a player who needs no introduction other than the fact if I don’t introduce him you won’t know who I’m talking about, so step forward and take a bow Tonton Zola Moukoko, or as he is known in some circles, Mr Championship Manager. You don’t even need to have played Championship Manager 01/02 to know who this guy is. He was quite simply, spectacular. But in real life he was quite simply, well, not very good. He apparently turned down moves to AC Milan and Juventus to move to Derby County and from there he played for a bunch of teams no one has ever heard of.
Orri Freyr Oskarsson also featured in CM 01/02, but is it even worth me making a case for him after the likes of Lamptey and Moukoko? Okay, I guess I should seeing as this guy’s name crops up a lot on fan forums but the problem is I can’t find much more than that. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page so he must have been really bad in real life! From what I can gather the Icelandic winger was a bargain if you had missed out on Moukoko.
The final player from CM 01/02 was Andres D'Alessandro who was great because you could snap the Argentinean up from River Plate without any work permit issues because of his dual Italian nationality. A gifted midfielder whose real career saw him play in Germany (Wolfsburg), England (Portsmouth) and Spain (Zaragoza) but without any of the success he’d have in CM/FM.
In Championship Manager 4 Jamie McMaster was a top notch midfielder from Leeds, and in the same version you could also pick up the next big thing in French footballer from Le Havre if you signed Anthony Le Tallec (and his partner in crime Florent Sinama-Pongolle). McMaster ended up going back to his homeland in Australia after things didn’t work out in England while Le Tallec (and Sinama-Pongolle) both went to Liverpool and both left without having made an impact in England. Let Tallec now turns out for Valenciennes FC in Ligue 2.
It was a similar story for Giovanni Dos Santos who in Football Manager 2005 was at Barcelona and constantly became one of the greatest players in the game. When things didn’t work out with the Catalan giants he went to Tottenham where he was equally unsuccessful and is now back in La Liga with Villreal.
One of my favourite players in the same edition of FM05 was Lebohang Mokoena. The first thing you’d do is raid Orlando Pirates for Mokoena and defensive midfielder Benedict Vilakazi for an absolute steal at around £2m for both players and you’d dominate European football. In real life Mokoena has never played outside of South Africa and for the past five seasons he has been at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Brazilian Kerlon (FM07) was an attacking midfield maestro; famous for his seal dribble at Cruzeiro where he would run while bouncing the ball on top of his head at the same time. It’s a skill that didn’t really translate onto CM/FM and whenever he did it in real life he tended to get a smack for his efforts. He can now be found doing his showboating in Japan for Fujieda MYFC.
The final name on the list is Rangers hot prospect John Fleck. Well, he was a hot prospect when he first made an appearance in Football Manager 2008. These days he is more of a decent youngster for Coventry City who he joined after Rangers were relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish football for financial irregularities.
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