Posts Tagged ‘Sheffield United


Smash Hits, Tony Currie’s testimonial match and The Housemartins

For my sins, I support Sheffield Wednesday.

But even I can appreciate the brilliance of Smash Hits’ feature about Tony Currie’s testimonial match and The Housemartins (you can read it here, and here).

Tony Currie was once named as Sheffield United’s greatest cult hero but, rather amusingly, he was also described as “some bloke or other”.

Norman Cook, meanwhile, managed to top a visit to a Sheffield-based greasy spoon by meeting George Best AND the St John’s Ambulance crew.

And a feature really isn’t a feature until the words “8.23 Inter-City Saver” and “Dennis Waterman Showbiz XI” (featuring Blades fan Paul Heaton) are mentioned. Bless you, Smash Hits.


The 15 most obscure Championship imports

Talking about obscure footballers is a favourite past time so, to celebrate this fact, here is a list of the 15 most obscure imports ever to play in the second tier of English football.

As long as a player was signed during a team’s stint in this division, they are eligible.

Forget about Marco Pascolo, Edinho, Simon Colosimo, Eric Deloumeaux, Steen Nedergaard, John Achterberg, Jarkko Wiss and Jordao – they were never that obscure.

Here are 15 players that meet the perfect description of obscure – they were distinctively average and completely insignificant; they were never good enough to merit praise nor were they bad enough to attain cult status.

15. Menno Willems

Club – Grimsby Town (2000-2002)
Position – Defender/Midfielder
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 54 (2)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 5 (0)

Related to former Derby County striker Ron Willems, Grimsby Town’s Menno Willems was signed alongside Zhang Enhua, Knut Anders Fostervold and the controversial forward David Nielsen by Lennie Lawrence in November 2000.

The former Netherlands under-20 international’s talents were largely used in the Mariner’s defence, but he also quickly became a talented free-kick specialist for the club and created many chances for his team-mates.

Willems left at the end of the 2001-2002 season, despite being a regular starter, after accusing the club of lacking ambition and he subsequently he fell out of favour with new manager Paul Groves.

Despite wanting to return to Blundell Park, shortly after leaving, Willems’ final pay cheque was in the Netherlands which brought his very average career to an end.

14. Marc Libbra

Club – Norwich City (2001-2002)
Position – Striker
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 34 (7)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 3 (0)

Marc Libbra is a man, who knows how to make an immediate impact.

After scoring five times in ten games for Scottish outfit Hibernian, Libbra scored – within seconds of coming on as substitute on his debut – against the highly fancied Manchester City.

He also scored in his second league match against Wimbledon but, despite several starts, Libbra failed to score again for ten matches until he scored in the 3-2 loss at Crystal Palace.

More effective as an impact substitute, Libbra was nonetheless a bargain when an agreed price of £500,000 was reduced to a free transfer after his previous club Toulouse went into administration.

After impressing for the amateur French side Gazélec Ajaccio, struggling for the Championnat National outfit US Créteil-Lusitanos and having a disastrous spell at Livingston, Libbra retired in 2005 and >played in the 2006 World Cup beach soccer tournament for <a href=""France.

Despite not reaching his full potential at Norwich City, he was well liked by the fans and he even had a T-shirt distributed to celebrate his first goal.

Marc Libbra: a true cult hero.

13. Denes Rosa

Club – Wolverhampton Wanderers (2006-2009)
Position – Midfielder
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 9 (2)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 3 (0)

Former Hungary international Denes Rosa arrived at Molnieux in 2006, with many hoping that his flair and speed would bring some consistency to Glenn Hoddle’s under-achieving side.

He certainly came with a high pedigree after scoring against Millwall and Hearts in the UFEA Cup, for Ferencvaros.

After settling in, Rosa soon looked like he could be answer to Wolverhampton’s prayers by scoring twice in the last two games of the 2005-2006 season against Cardiff City and Norwich City.

Before the start of the next season, though, Hoddle resigned and Mick McCarthy was brought in.

McCarthy understandably wanted changes and Rosa was frozen out of the side, after he was deemed unfit for the side’s new style of play.

It was harsh on Rosa but Wolves needed a change, as under Hoddle they were hell-bent on drawing as many games as possible.

Despite becoming a regular goalscorer for the reserves (including scoring 13 in one season, despite missing many games through injury), Rosa departed the West Midlands outfit last year.

After unsuccessful spells at Hibernian and Cheltenham Town, Rosa has moved back to Ferencvaros.

He is now a regular starter for the Greek side, who are now managed by former Blackburn Rovers defender Craig Short.

Denes Rosa is a player who is destined to become even more obscure, over the coming years.

12. Mateo Corbo

Club – Barnsley (2000-2002)
Position – Defender
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 17 (0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 3 (0)

Mateo Corbo – the forgotten hard-man, in football. Forget Vinnie Jones and Julian Dicks, Corbo had it all from late tackles to elbowing.

Despite showing some good attacking flair, the aggressive left-back’s time at Barnsley was marred by disciplinary problems.

Whilst at Barnsley, Corbo earned four yellow cards in sixteen league appearances during the 2000-2001 season.

Corbo managed to top this during his brief spell at Oxford United in 2005, where he somehow earned one red card and eight yellow cards in just thirteen appearances.

His tenure at Australian A-League side Newcastle United Jets was also marred by disciplinary problems, as he spent a third of the season suspended.

While there was no doubt that Corbo was technically gifted, his ability to be less disciplined than Matt Redmile and Gus Uhlenbeek meant that he was always going to fade into obscurity.

Mateo Corbo is Barnsley’s loss and obscurity’s gain.

11. Seyni N’Diaye

Club: Tranmere Rovers (2001-2002)
Position – Striker
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 8 (2)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 0 (0)

Like Mateo Corbo, Seyni N’Diaye quickly became a talented yet troublesome and ill-disciplined star in the Championship.

N’Diaye gave Tranmere Rovers a glimmer of hope in their always doomed attempt to avoid relegation in the 2000-2001 season, after he fired home a controversial winner against Birmingham City.

However, he quickly turned from hero to villain in the reserve fixture against the Blues when he was sent off for violent conduct and was banned for three matches.

Rovers were already relegated to League One when the striker returned, but he did play an important role in gaining credible draws against Watford and Nottingham Forest.

N’Diaye failed to make an impact for Rovers in their next season – gaining two red cards for elbowing in the process – and a disappointing period at Dunfermline followed.

N’Diaye’s best years, however, were after leaving Prenton Park as he became a cult legend in the Cyprian Leagues – despite his failure at Greek side Kerkyra FC.

He played an important role during AEL FC’s run up to the Coca-Cola Cup final, and he also played for Nea Salamina and AC Omonia, before moving back to AEL FC in 2007.

He retired a year later, which would have been a relief for his opposing defenders for several reasons.

10. Jean Yves de Blasiis

Club – Norwich City (1999-2001)
Position – Midfielder
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 34(0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 3 (0)

Jean Yves de Blasiis’s spell at Norwich City was wrecked by injury.

After joining the Canaries on a free transfer from Red Star 93 in 1999, de Blasiis became a regular starter during the 1999-2000 season. Disaster, however, soon struck as he suffered a serious cruciate knee injury during a training session in March 2000.

During this injury, de Blasiis promoted the Norfolk service Intran – one that helps deaf people or those whose first language is not English integrate into the Norfolk community – after they helped to get his phone connection up and running.

Despite fighting back from this injury, de Blasiis lost that touch of pace required for a winger and was subsequently released in the summer of 2001. Undeterred, he played for FC Istres during the 2001-2002 season and even made a several appearances for FC Down after retiring.

De Blasiis involvement in football continues to this day where he now works for the marketing department of former club Bordeaux.

9. Pablo Bonvin

Club – Sheffield Wednesday (2001-2002)
Position – Midfielder/Striker
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 23 (4)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 7 (1)

Pablo Bonvin joined Sheffield Wednesday on a season long loan from Boca Juniors, after failing to make a single appearance for Newcastle United in a similar loan spell, before the start of the 2001-2002 season.

Bonvin failed to make the first eleven on a regular basis – the Argentine forward only started seven league matches – but he certainly made an impression, during his time with the Owls.

He starred in the 3-1 victory over Barnsley where he scored two goals – earning caretaker manager Terry Yorath a permanent contract in the process (in hindsight, this was not such a positive impression) – and he scored against Sunderland, during their League Cup exploits.

Even though Bonvin failed to score after his brace against Barnsley in October 2001; Bonvin impressed during the League Cup semi-final tie against Blackburn Rovers.

His spell at Hillsborough was not extended, despite becoming a favourite with fans, and he soon joined several South American clubs with various degrees of success.

He moved clubs just as often as Trevor Benjamin and Steve Claridge, as he made a transfer at least once a season. T

his stopped in 2008, when he retired from the game at the age of 27 for unknown reasons.

8. Luigi Cennamo

Club – Burnley (2001-2002)
Position – Goalkeeper
Championship appearances (goals conceded) – 0 (0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals conceded) – 1 (2)

Even Burnley fans will remember the name Luigi for Mario’s brother, rather than their goalkeeper Luigi Cennamo.

Signed from Olympiakos, as part of Burnley’s growing Greek population – alongside Dimitrios Papadopoulos and first choice goalkeeper Nik Michopoulos – Cennamo’s spell is remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Despite some indifferent performances for the reserves, Cennamo made a substitute appearance in the FA Cup tie against Cheltenham Town.

He conceded twice in ten minutes, in a performance described as a ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’. Cennamo was immediately dropped and Marlon Beresford was brought on-loan from Middlesbrough instead.

Cennamo moved to Egaleo FC in 2004 where the pressure of playing in the Greek First Division has not succumbed him; he has flourished and has become a club legend.

7. Benoit Croissant

Club – Sheffield United (2002-2003)
Position – Defender
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 0 (0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 0 (0)

Benoit Croissant was highly rated enough, by Neil Warnock, for the defender to be snapped up from Troyes.

Despite Croissant regularly impressing for the reserves, he failed to make a single appearance during his stint at Bramall Lane.

Undeterred by this, Crossiant has become one of the most cultured defenders around by playing in the Netherlands, China, United States, Bahrian and Singapore. Crossiant played a vital role in Al Najma’s defence of the King’s Soccer Cup in 2008, and was one of the tips to succeed in the Singaporean League.

For all of Crossiant’s success since leaving Bramall Lane, Crossiant’s following remains non-existent and he has overtaken Alex Smeets and Davy Gysbrechts, as the most obscure Sheffield United defender there ever has been.

Only the most ardent Sheffield United fan will remember Crossiant.

6. Serge Romano

Club – Wolverhampton Wanderers (1996-1997)
Position – Defender
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 4 (0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 1 (0)

The French right-back Serge Romano, joined Wolverhampton Wanderers in a free transfer from Martigues in the summer of 1996.

Romano, however, failed to provide the experience and quality required, after failing to impress in his first and only two starts for the club. Romano failed to complete either of these two matches and was in a side that conceded three goals.

Three cameo substitute appearances were made in October 1996, and never played again until he was released in May 1997.

It is Romano’s managerial career that has got more tongues wagging though, despite it being relatively hit-and-miss.

After being Troyes’ assistant for several seasons, he was finally given the main managerial post in 2004. This was initially successful where he lead the Ligue 2 side to a Coupe de France appearance in 2005 and got the club promoted in 2006.

However, after flirting with relegation in Ligue 1, he was soon sacked.

Disastrous spells at Amiens SC and Dijon soon followed, with both clubs struggling.

His success at Troyes was also discredited when it emerged that the president was in charge of coaching the side during Romano’s spell in charge and his heavy emphasis on defensive football was mocked in many quarters.

Very much like his career at Wolves, then.

5. Ulf Ottosson

Club – Norwich City (1997)
Position –Striker
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 7 (1)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 1 (0)

Former Norwich City loanee Ulf Ottosson failed to make a big impression, during his spell at Carrow Road in 1997.

Although the Swedish striker impressed during the 3-2 victory over Sheffield United – where he scored once, and had several excellent efforts saved by Alan Kelly – Ottosson failed to score again, in his other seven appearances, for the Canaries.

However, it has to be said that he really was not given a chance to shine as he only started half of his matches (and many of his substitute appearances were last-minute cameos).

His spell at Norwich was so insignificant, that Ottosson was only 13 of the 360 surviving players whose contact details were unknown by the club.

Despite his disappointment in not succeeding at Norwich, Ottosson played in Sweden until 2004 and he also had a brief spell at Serie D/G side Viterbese Calcio.

Like Serge Ramono, Ottosson also made an unsuccessful foray into club management. After Olf’s 2005 spell as player-manager of Gullspangs ended as soon as it started, he became the player-manager of Stomtorps in 2007.

He intended to play as many matches as possible, but he came off injured twenty minutes into his debut.

As his career in Sweden was once described as being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, it is assumed he was fired because of this.

Here’s hoping that he has gone back to his former day job of making cabinets.

4. Wilko De Vogt

Club – Sheffield United (2001-2003)
Position – Goalkeeper
Championship appearances (goals conceded) – 6 (6)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals conceded) – 3 (5)

Wilko De Vogt was signed by Neil Warnock during a the summer of 2001 after failing to break into the first team of Eredivisie side NAC. De Vogt was a panic buy after the abrupt departure of Frank Talia in goal, and the Dutchman was immediately the second choice ‘keeper at Bramall Lane behind Simon Tracey.

His appearances for the Blades were so limited that a pre-season appearance against Hartlepool United was considered as a rare one.

De Vogt is best remembered for his appearance in the infamous match against West Bromwich Albion in 2002, as he failed to make much of an impression during this pointless stint.

He only kept two clean sheets in nine appearances, and conceded three goals in his last match (an error-prone appearance, against Ipswich Town).

De Vogt had to wait until 2004 for his first taste of regular first-team football, at the age of 31, where he has impressed for FC Oss and quickly became a fans’ favourite.

3. Robert Niestroj

Club – Wolverhampton Wanderers (1998-2001)
Position – Midfielder
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 6 (0)
Cup appearances whilst playing in the Championship (goals scored) – 1 (0)

Robert Niestroj became Colin Lee’s first signing at Wolverhampton Wanderers in November 1998. He joined from Fortuna Dusseldorf for £300,000, after impressing in midfield for the German second division outfit.

Niestroj was soon joined in Lee’s cosmopolitan squad by the likes of Ludovic Pollet and Steve Corica, but he ended up being far less successful.

Although Niestroj had a shot cleared off the line on his full debut, the German failed to impress and only made six appearances for Wolves.

Although he impressed more in the Pontis League, in the first team he showed flair akin to a combine harvester both in real life and in ‘Championship Manager’.

After leaving Molineux in 2001, Niestroj has been through more Greek, Icelandic and lower league German sides than hot dinners, and can now be found playing in the German equivalent of the Blue Square North.

2. Jose Miranda

Club – Rotherham United (2001-2003)
Position – Midfielder
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 2 (0)
Cup appearances (goals scored) – 1 (0)

Jose Miranda became one of Rotherham United’s first signings, when they were promoted to the Championship in 2001.

However, the talented Portuguese winger failed to break into Rotherham’s first team and he was substituted at half-time when he made his only start for the Millers.

Miranda regularly troubled defences in the reserves, but Miranda was also troublesome off it.

He was quickly classed as an outcast and after a move to Dundee United fell through, his unhappy time at Millmoor ended in 2003.

Like all the best obscure footballers, it is unknown whether Miranda joined another club after leaving Rotherham.

1. Laurens ten Heuvel

Clubs – Barnsley (1996-1998); Sheffield United (2002-2003); Bradford City (2003)
Position – Striker
Championship appearances (goals scored) – 13 (0)
Cup appearances (goals scored) – 4 (0)

Laurens ten Heuvel is, without doubt, the most obscure Championship footballer there ever has been – whether or not they are foreign.

During his spells with Barnsley, Sheffield United and Bradford City; ten Heuvel has shown incompetency, shown by no other player. He is the perfect definition of the phrase ‘could not hit a barn-door’, and this was shown whilst playing for Bradford City at Carrow Road. It took him 83 minutes to make his second shot of the match.

Rather amusingly, ten Heuvel mentioned in an interview that practice and diet is crucial to any footballing success story(including his own), and one must assume that both of these were executed with minimal effort.

Even his more prolific efforts in the Dutch leagues seem to be down to poor goalkeeping, judging by the above embedded YouTube video.

The Dutch website that stated that his strengths include scoring are very much lying. 25 competitive appearances in England and no goals – surely he must be the worst striker to ever play in England, never mind the Championship?

And there it all ends, with Laurens ten Heuvels being most obscure of them all. I am sure that you will agree, that they are obscure.

However, if you know of any foreign imports in the Championship, that are more obscure, please do not hesitate to mention them in the comments section.

And, to offer extra bang for your buck, here is a clip of the 1998-1999 First Division play-off final between Watford and Bolton Wanderers.

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