Top Ten - Strange moves
In the wake of Sol Campbell's switch to Notts County, Chris Burton takes a look at similar shock deals.
Last Updated: 28/08/09 5:30pm
Notts County supporters had probably only just recovered from the bruising brought about by Sven-Goran Eriksson's arrival when they were informed of the news that Sol Cambpell was on his way to Meadow Lane, and they found themselves pinched black and blue once more.
It really has been a fairytale summer for the Magpies, with the club suddenly making backpage headlines in national newspapers - rather than just the Nottingham Evening Post.
The events which have unfolded on the banks of the Trent in recent weeks just go to show that dreams can come true and, occasionally - when Middle-Eastern millionaires are involved - anything is possible.
So, while County fans peel themselves off the floor for the second time in as many months, we at skysports.com take a look at a few other transfers from down the years which have had required at least a second glance, if not a third and a fourth, before acceptance that the unfathomable has just happened is achieved.
Sol Campbell 2009
Having led on Campbell's shock switch to Meadow Lane, that would appear to be as good a place as any to start our latest Top Ten instalment. Quite what a man who is yet to officially call time on his England career, and can boast Arsenal, Tottenham and Portsmouth on an impressive CV, is doing at League Two outfit Notts County is anybody's guess, but there he is. Campbell has been sweet-talked into swapping the Premier League life of luxury for the daily grind which is the fourth tier by former national coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. The Swedish lothario has earned a reputation over the years for possessing the gift of the gab, but even he must have been surprised when Campbell surrendered to his silver-tongued charms.
Allan Simonsen 1983
Former European Footballers of the Year and Charlton Athletic would, at first glance, not appear to have an awful lot in common. Those who have graced the pinnacle of their chosen profession have, en masse, often chosen to snub the allure of The Addicks for one reason or another. Simonsen, though, broke the mould when he rocked up at The Valley in 1983. The Danish goal-scoring machine had been named as the best player on the continent in 1977, while he had also spent the last four years prior to his arrival in England turning out for Spanish giants Barcelona. The logic behind a move from Catalunya to Charlton is yet to be established, but the history books are testament that the move did actually happen and Addicks fans were not hallucinating.
Claudio Caniggia 2000
While my research for this article did not stretch to finding out how many World Cup finalists have turned out at Dens Park over the years, my intuition tells me that the answer is not many. The Dundee faithful can, however, boast of having had one man on their books in recent times who can lay claim to having graced world football's grandest showpiece. Argentine striker Caniggia was that man, with the Iggy Pop lookalike having completed a shock move to Scotland in 2000 from Serie A outfit Atalanta - 10 short years after he turned out for his country in the final of Italia 90. Unsurprisingly, the South American star was a class above those around him at the Dark Blues and he duly moved on to Rangers 12 months later.
Socrates 2004Not technically speaking a ratified transfer, more of a cameo appearance, but the arrival of a Brazilian legend in West Yorkshire caused quite a stir back in 2004. Garforth manager/owner/publicity-hound Simon Clifford was determined to put his Northern Premier League Division One North (try saying that after a few pints) side on the map upon his arrival in 2003 and set about putting his contacts in South America to good use. To be fair to Clifford, having promised much, he was able to deliver as Garforth's profile soon began to sky-rocket. The arrival of Socrates, a man who formed part of the great Brazil side at the 1982 World Cup, for a friendly run-out certainly helped, while other 'famous' names such as Lee Sharpe and Careca have also turned out for the minnows since then.
George Best 1976
Having made top flight defenders look foolish for over a decade during a glorious era in the history of Manchester United, Best had grown tired of life at Old Trafford by the mid-70s. An over-exuberant lifestyle had hardly helped his cause, while it must be difficult to keep on striving to reach the top when you have already touched the stars. That, though, does little to take away from the fact that Best's switch to Fulham in 1976 came as something of a surprise. The Cottagers were hardly world-beaters at the time, despite ambitious plans, and while Best was a little older and hairier than he had been during his United days, he was still more than capable of cutting it at a level above that on offer in west London.
Tommy Lawton 1947
The second visit to Notts County on our list and, despite going back a bit, arguably the most shocking. A sense of perspective is required in order to fully understand the scale of Lawton's decision to join the Magpies from Chelsea, as many of us were not fortunate enough to have seen the legendary forward in his heyday. It is safe to say, though, that the England international was one of the finest exponents of his trade and as such was not expected to be turning out in the Third Division while still in his pomp. Lawton was 28 years old when he moved to County and at the top of his trade. Think, then, of Wayne Rooney suddenly calling time on his Manchester United career in a few years time to take on a new challenge at Tranmere. Not going to happen is it? But things back in the 40s were slightly different than they are today and Lawton's decision was quickly accepted as nothing out of the ordinary.
Chris Coleman 1997
No offence to Mr Coleman, but his status perhaps does not equate to those who have gone before him on our list. However, the former Wales international was still involved in a transfer which caused a few ripples in footballing waters. Coleman, a classy centre-half in his day, had been a Premier League performer with Crystal Palace and Blackburn before he decided he wanted a fresh start in 1997. Rather than opt for a change of scenery inside the top flight, he decided to go out on a limb and join Second Division outfit Fulham. It was a move which paid off as he helped the Cottagers clamber up the league ladder and into the promised land, but at the time there were a few who felt Coleman perhaps needed his head testing.
Peter Shilton 1996
There was an understandable air of intent in this move which makes it slightly less shocking, but the sight of England's leading appearance maker of all-time turning out for Leyton Orient is an occurrence few at Brisbane Road are likely to forget in a hurry. In truth, Shilton was in the twilight of his career by the time he joined Orient. The fact that he had spent the last few years on the books of Wimbledon, Bolton, Coventry and West Ham did little to hide the fact that he was no longer cut out to perform at the highest level. Desperate to reach the previously unimaginable landmark of having made 1000 League appearances, though, Shilton cut his losses and stepped down the football pyramid in order to reach his goal. Fair play to him for doing so, as a man who represented his country on 125 occasions and boasted two European Cup winners' medals in an enviable collection of honours could have called it a day at the top.
Bruce Grobbelaar 1996
Sticking with the goalkeeper theme, and the year 1996 quite spookily, we turn our attention to moustachioed eccentric Grobbelaar. Famous for spaghetti legs and a penchant for the spectacular/disastrous during a glittering 14-year stint with Liverpool, the Zimbabwean shot-stopper was forced to lower his standards after departing Anfield. A switch to Southampton immediately followed his time on Merseyside, but that did at least keep him in the top flight. In 1996, though, Grobbelaar joined Second Division new boys Plymouth, who were under the guidance of Neil Warnock at the time - a man renowned for not giving a lot of credence to normality. Grobbelaar was 40 by now and heading towards retirement, but the likes of Oldham, Bury and Lincoln will all have welcomed the opportunity to include him on their team sheet in the years which followed a brief stint with the Pilgrims.
Paul Gascoigne 1998
While many will accept that 'Gazza' was at the height of his powers around the time of the 1990 World Cup and the First Division season which followed, it is also fair to say that he enjoyed something of a renaissance at Rangers towards the end of the 20th century. Having rediscovered his best during his days at Ibrox, winning countless club and individual honours, he was expected to be a shoo-in for Glenn Hoddle's England squad at the 1998 World Cup. As it happens he wasn't, so he trashed a hotel room and joined Middlesbrough instead. The North East outfit were a First Division (pre-Championship) outfit at the time and appeared to be a strange choice of destination for a man looking to keep his career on track after a number of years traipsing through the undergrowth. He did help Boro to promotion into the Premier League, but lasted little over two years on Teesside.