Following Jack Wilshere’s recently announced move to Danish Superliga outfit AGF, here we take a look at some of the strangest free transfers in football history.
5 of the Most Bizarre Free Transfers
5 of the Most Bizarre Free Transfers
Robert Pires - Aston Villa
In 2010, at age 37, former Arsenal invincible Robert Pires agreed to join Aston Villa on a six-month contract to join up with fellow Frenchman Gerard Houllier, who was the manager at Villa Park.
Pires’s reputation spoke for himself, with this move to Aston Villa likely to be the last stop of a great career, however, things didn’t go quite to plan during his stay in Birmingham, only making nine appearances, including just two starts.
Pires didn’t look back on his time at Villa Park with joy, stating “there was a lack of respect” and “my experience at Villa has been a failure.”
Jay-Jay Okocha - Bolton Wanderers
A move from Paris to Bolton would not be considered for most people, but it was different for Jay-Jay Okocha in 2002 when he moved from a Paris Saint-Germain which included a young Ronaldinho, to play for Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers.
Immediately, Okocha became a cult hero at the Reebok Stadium, and after recovering from an early-season injury, his first job was to guide his side away from the relegation zone, which he managed to do, with him contributing seven goals, including the winner of Goal of the Season against rivals West Ham United.
Okocha’s performances meant that Bolton went from strength to strength under Allardyce, as the Nigerian captained the Trotters to the League Cup final in 2004, which they lost to Middlesbrough, and then finished 6th in the 2004/05 season, in turn, qualifying Bolton for the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club's history.
Edgar Davids - Barnet
Edgar Davids is one of the most iconic midfielders of his generation, one reason being his magnificent all-round midfield game for European giants like Ajax, Barcelona and Juventus, but also his goggles and dreadlocks making him an even more unique player.
At 39-years-old he came out of retirement to become player/manager of League Two side Barnet, who were bottom of the league when he was appointed.
It was clear that Davids made a positive impact on the club when he was appointed, putting in scintillating midfield performances whilst also trying to prove himself as manager, but it wasn’t enough to keep Barnet from relegation that season.
Davids’s second season was a bit more drama-filled, he agreed with the club he wouldn’t travel to long-distance away games, and in his final games he picked up three red cards in five games, which saw the two sides agree to part ways halfway through the season.
Ali Dia - Southampton
The story of Ali Dia will always be ingrained in football history, with a player who was nowhere near the ability of a Premier League footballer, lying his way into getting an appearance.
Dia phoned up Graeme Souness, the then manager of Southampton, claiming to be ex- AC Milan and PSG striker George Weah’s cousin, which then saw Souness take him up on his offer and the forward was signed by Southampton, with his best career credential being an appearance for Blyth Spartans in non-league.
Despite his clear lack of footballing ability compared to Premier League level, Souness brought the forward on as a substitute, and it went as bad as expected, seeing Dia released just two weeks into his contract.
Fernando Hierro - Bolton
Fernando Hierro is one of the most decorated defenders in football history, spending fourteen years at Real Madrid, making 439 appearances, winning five La Liga titles and the Champions League three times.
After already recruiting the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff, signing such an experienced and highly reputable centre-backs was a huge win for Bolton fans, and it got even better with his play.
In his one season, at 37-years-old, Hierro was a huge factor in Bolton’s highest-ever Premier League finish, placing sixth and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, which was his last achievement as a professional as he retired at the end of the season.
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