The 21st edition of the ultra-addictive Football Manager computer game is very nearly upon us and to celebrate its ever deeper incursions into the real lives of football fans the world over we remember five players whose signings seemed to clearly be inspired by their exploits on various editions of the game, rather than their abilities in the non-virtual world.
Ibrahima Bakayoko – Montpellier
Bakayoko was Ivorian before it was cool to be Ivorian and when it came to the 1997/98 version of the game he quickly rose to prominence for Montpellier, often ending up being valued at upwards of £15m.
Walter Smith had clearly been indulging in FM action when he snapped up the player for his Everton side in the autumn of 1998. Sadly he failed to live up to the exploits of his online alter-ego, scoring just four goals in 23 appearances, leading Toffees fans to cruelly label him ‘Bakajoke-o’.
Isaac Okoronkwo – Shakhtar Donetsk
A highly versatile defensive rock for a Shakhtar side still some way away from announcing themselves as a serious proposition at continental level, the Nigerian international was an affordable gem on the 2000/01 edition of FM.
At his first press conference after Dave Jones brought him to Wolves Okoronkwo told the assembled journos “when I come into a team I expect to take my place immediately”. He failed to make a start within his first seven months at Molineux and was shipped out to Alania Vladikavkaz a year later having made just seven appearances for the club.
Keirrison – Coritiba
When it came to Football Manager 2009, few players had the sky-high potential of 19-year-old centre forward Keirrison, who was soon capable of securing 30 goals a season.
Perhaps an indolent scout at Barcelona had been gaming instead of doing their homework thoroughly, because five years after the Brazilian signed for Los Blaugrana he has yet to make a first team appearance for the club.
Cherno Samba – Millwall
Despite possessing some fairly underwhelming stats, Lions youngster Samba was an outrageous talent on the 1997/98 game, often swapping The New Den for Serie A before his 18th birthday.
His real-life career has been on a downhill trajectory since not long after he rose to prominence by scoring 132 goals in 32 games for his school team at the age of 13. Spells in Spain, back in Blighty, Finland, Greece and Norway have followed, yielding a total of 27 league appearances and a solitary goal.