Socrates’ non-League warm-up was ‘two bottles of beers and three cigarettes’, George Best ‘worth it’ at Hibs and Edgar Davids at Barnet’s £100,000 Bentley as Cardiff eyes Gareth Bale deal
A footballer bigger than the club he is at will always be a problem for some fans while others just want to see superstars on their doorstep.
talkSPORT understands Cardiff are confident of signing Gareth Bale this summer following the end of his nine-year spell at Real Madrid.
The five-time Champions League winner and symbol of Welsh football would be a hero if he joined his boyhood club.
Bale scored 11 goals and two assists in 20 Premier League appearances the previous season and can still cut it at the top level.
So to go down in the Championship for the first time since he was 17 at Southampton would be a huge blow for Cardiff.
With that in mind, talkSPORT.com takes a look at some of the greatest footballers to make surprising transfers…
Paul calls Fury the biggest risk of his career and puts a $300,000 belt on the line
Francis suspended and arrested after BOXPARK KO and now imagines a rematch against Tyson
‘Bonkers’ – Man City award Kalvin Phillips £42m bargain
Man City agree big deal with Leeds to sign Kalvin Phillips
Wayne Rooney announces Derby departure after ‘roller coaster of emotions’
Conor Benn shows off drastic body transformation before and after weigh-in
Sol Campbell – Notts County
The former England international stunned the footballing world when he left Premier League Portsmouth to feature in League Two after the Magpies were subject to a takeover by a Middle Eastern consortium.
Even his former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has publicly shared his surprise at Campbell’s decision to cut three divisions.
Mystic Arsene suggested at the time that the veteran defender might be “mentally” struggling to cope and he turned out to be right.
Campbell was out just three days after making his debut for the club, which was an eyesore in a 2-1 loss to Morecambe.
“I knew I would be the club’s first big signing, but I was told I would be the first in a long line. Names like Roberto Carlos and Benjani were mentioned. But nothing materialized,” he told the News of the World.
“The only thing I’m guilty of is taking people at their word so I don’t get embarrassed or hurt or humiliated or anything like that – I’m just disappointed.”
Socrates – Garforth Town
The late former midfielder spent most of his career playing in his native country with his signature headband and beard combo.
He captained Brazil at the 1982 World Cup before hanging up his boots in 1990 – yet a decade later he was back… in West Yorkshire!
Garforth owner Simon Clifford, who made his fortune setting up a global network of Brazilian football schools, used his contacts to sign ‘Doctor Socrates’ to a one-month contract.
And the then 50-year-old did indeed manage to make a one-time substitute appearance for the non-League side against Tadcaster.
“It was way too cold, the second I walked out I had an incredible headache. I’m just not used to it,” Socrates said after his uneventful 12-minute appearance in the 2-2 draw.
“It was a lot faster than the type of football I’m used to. It was a lot more competitive and cutthroat, but I really enjoyed it and it was an interesting experience.
After his passing in 2011, Garforth owner Clifford revealed his warm-up routines were the reason Socrates never managed another game.
He told BBC Radio Five Live. “We drew the game he played when he came on as a substitute and I decided not to play him in the next game because his warm-up had been to drink two bottles of Budweiser and three cigarettes which we had. in the locker room.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea for him to keep playing too long even if he felt like it.”
However, the club gained promotion that season and Clifford added: “He showed great grace playing for me. He didn’t take money to play and he will always be special to us.
David Beckham – LA Galaxy
Perhaps the most famous example and the only player on this list to receive a statue from the surprise club he joined.
Beckham became the first superstar name to join MLS via its Designated Player Rule – allowing top players to earn more than the standard salary cap.
‘Golden Balls’ moved to Los Angeles in 2007 from Real Madrid, paving the way for star names such as Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to follow suit.
He won two MLS Cups and helped Galaxy to Supporters Shield crowns in 122 club appearances.
George Best – Hibernian
The Northern Irish legend will rightfully always be synonymous with Manchester United following his Ballon d’Or exploits at the club.
But the European Cup winner’s tenure at Old Trafford ended prematurely at 27 after his battle with alcoholism.
From then on, Best had a scattered career that took him from Fulham to America and then into the Scottish top flight.
The then 33-year-old winger spent just one year at Hibs, scoring three times in 22 games, and failed to prevent their relegation.
Still, attendance at the club soared to around 20,000 for each home game – helping pay for Best’s £2,000-a-game salary at a time when his teammates were earning almost £100.
One of his greatest moments at Hibs was a man of the match in a 1-1 draw with Celtic in January 1980.
Manager Eddie Turnbull said: “He can do anything on the ball and it’s a pure joy to watch him at work. If only he had joined us a month earlier. The man alone is worth the money of admission.
Infamously, Best later missed out on a cup tie after a drinking session with the France rugby team, who were in Edinburgh to face Scotland.
“George was there, pretty well. In bed with that doll bird, a bottle of champagne,” John Lambie, a member of the Hibs coaching staff, told The Scotsman. “’George,’ I said, ‘you have to come down for your pre-game meal!’
“He just smiled. ‘I have it here!’”
Paul Gascoigne – Boston United
The former Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers star ended his illustrious career with a two-month stint at the York Street club.
After joining Boston as a player-coach, Gazza made five appearances, helping the club to ninth place in League Two.
But he walked away from the professional game citing his desire to take a coaching course at Lilleshall.
When the Dutchman came out of retirement to become Barnet’s player-manager in 2012, you knew it was going to be a roller coaster.
An enigmatic figure as a player, midfielder Davids won the Champions League with Ajax and played for Juventus and Barcelona.
The last part of Davids’ journey, however, was with the Bees, but he couldn’t stop them from dropping out of the Football League as they were relegated on the last day of the season.
He made nine appearances for the club in the Conference Premier during the 2013/14 campaign, before stepping down as boss in January 2014.
Davids – who would arrive for training at Barnet in a £100.00 Bentley and then watch from his car – was sent off three times in his final season.
Rivaldo – Kabuscorp
The former Barcelona star and World Cup winner played in Uzbekistan and Angola during the later stages of his career.
Rivaldo admitted that Portuguese being the language spoken in Angola, as it is in his native Brazil, played a part in his decision.
The 1999 Ballon d’Or winner scored 11 goals and made 21 league appearances for Kabuscorp in 10 months before leaving aged 40.
“It was a positive year in my career and although we finished fourth in the Angolan Girabola league, I was the third top scorer,” he told the BBC.
Victor Valdes – Middlesbrough
Eyebrows were raised when the serial La Liga and Champions League winner opted for a Premier League relegation drop on Teesside.
Valdes was a Barcelona No.1 for over 11 years before moving to Manchester United in 2015.
Still, the veteran Spanish goalkeeper suffered a public fallout with then-Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal and jumped at the chance to join newly-promoted Boro the following year.
Valdes played 28 games for the club but could not prevent their relegation and decided to retire after his contract ended prematurely.
talkSPORT LIVE – Don’t miss Brazil and Parlor!
Alan Brazil and Ray Parlor wowed audiences across the country this year with their hilarious double act, live on stage.
It’s your last chance to get tickets for the last show of the tour, in Nottingham.
Both have lived their lives to the fullest both during their playing days and afterwards during and after their talkSPORT radio show!
Hear the two legends tell stories from the dressing room, the studio, their playing days, their journeys on international duty… and of course Cheltenham!
The shows will be hosted by talkSPORT’s Shebahn Aherne.
Do not miss a good evening belt. Click on the link HERE to buy your tickets.