Eric Djemba-Djemba – remember him?
Even for some of the best footballers in the world, the prospects of playing for a club like Manchester United are slim, if not non-existent. Inexplicably, however, some less gifted players occasionally slip through the net to spread their unwanted and undeserving drivel over paying fans.
As harsh it may sound, Eric Djemba-Djemba is easily one of the worst offenders when it comes to blinding supporters with performances so utterly devoid of talent he’d find it difficult to secure a starting spot in a local pub side. But here he was – tripping into the famous Red jersey of United.
The 22-year-old had built himself up a bit of a reputation as a hard tackler at French side Nantes and for that reason qualified as one of Ferguson’s many frantic attempts to find a suitable successor to Roy Keane, the man who had helped the Scot dominate for so many years.
United paid £3.5 million to secure his services in 2003 signing him on a five-year contract. Understandably happy with his move, the Cameroon international told the club’s official website (via Sky Sports): “Ever since I was a teenager it has been my dream to play for Manchester United.
“If the club is signing me it is because they really believe in me. I am here to learn and to work hard, and I cannot wait for the new season to start.”
Ferguson, full of optimism at this stage, spoke positively about his new recruit.
“He’s quick, aggressive and a good passer of the ball, and is the kind of athletic footballer we are looking for.
“In the last few months he has shown his development playing in a very good Cameroon team, and he looks like a Manchester United player in every sense.”
Oh how wrong he was. Djemba-Djemba was awful in every department; the kind of player who made fans wince when he touched the ball; who couldn’t be trusted to play a simple pass or dribble more than five yards without losing possession.
After just two years at the club and 20 Premier League appearances, Djemba-Djemba was moved on to Aston Villa where he spent just five months before being loaned out to Burnley – the last club the Cameroonian would represent in England. A string of transfers would soon follow; first to Qatar, then Danish side Odense Boldklub; Israel and Hapoel Tel Aviv were the next to profit from his extensive talents, and while he returned to the British Isles, this time to play for St Mirren (ironically the only team in the world to have sacked Sir Alex), the homecoming was short lived.