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Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned CSKA Sofia Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned CSKA Sofia

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Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned Elite Clubs

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Akcelrod managed to fool an elite European club into believing he was a real player, A fake footballer has told the story of how he convinced a Champions League club to offer him a £15,000 per week contract.

At 10 years old, the Frenchman was like any young boy with a dream. The only problem was he was terrible at football. His own father thought he was so bad that he banished him from playing out of pure embarrassment.

Recalling his first memory of football, Paris-born Akcelrod told mail: ‘

I played my first game in front of my father at 10 years old. It was like the Champions League final for me.

‘We played against a good team and we lost 4-0. When we were in the car on the way back he said, “Greg, I am so upset. You are so bad. You are so lazy. I don’t want to see you anymore on a football pitch.”

‘I was shocked. Being with my friends on the football pitch was the best time of my week.’

Between the age of 10 and 18, Akcelrod was banned from playing football due to his lack of ability. The youngster only ever played in his garden but still never gave up the dream of playing professional football – mainly as he wanted to prove his dismissive father wrong.

One day at school, an idea struck – Akcelrod created a fake website that claimed he was a professional player playing for PSG’s reserves.

Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned CSKA Sofia

Akcelrod’s fake website earned him two trials at Swindon and he scored in a Robins friendly

Akcelrod Story

He would copy and paste match reports from the L’Equipe newspaper and took out the name of the star striker – such as Nicolas Anelka – and replaced it with his own.

The information wasn’t a complete lie – Akclerod was playing for PSG – but for the club’s amateur side in the bottom tier of French football – a level which he himself describes as ‘the worst in France’.

The 38-year-old claimed:

‘You can be Cristiano Ronaldo in the fifth team and nobody watches you. Nobody watched me at PSG because it was just for “kick and run” players.’

At this point, Akcelrod had been cut off by his affluent family for choosing football over a proper education and career.

At 19, the Frenchman, whose grandmother inherited a fortune from Oscar-winning actor Maurice Chevalier after a 15-year marriage, was working in McDonald’s and living in a small studio flat in France.

READ ALSO: Meet The Farce Striker Who Scored 0 Goal In 24 Years Across 9 Teams

As part of the facade, Akcelrod even went to the effort of sneaking onto the PSG pitch one day to take ‘official’ photos of him in full PSG kit. His website and CV were then sent to some of the biggest clubs in England.

Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned CSKA Sofia

Akcelrod sent his website and CV to professional clubs across Europe, including Arsenal

Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal turned him down, but second-tier side Swindon Town gave him a shot in the summer of 2003.

It was one of two occasions where the player trialed with the Robins.

‘On the first day of the trial I was so unfit physically and tactically I was lost,’ Akcelrod recalled.

‘In the practice game, the goalkeeper hit a long ball, I tried to head it but it hit me square in the face. Everybody laughed.’

The Frenchman wasn’t selected for the second day of the trial but still turned up at the County Ground for the other players’ practice match in front of the fans.

Irrespective of his talent, Akcelrod’s persistence was noted and manager Andy King gave him a second chance by giving him 20 minutes in a practice game. But no contract was offered – his first day at the trial had done enough damage.

There were offers amid the rejections too. Professional clubs in Luxembourg offered Akcelrod a contract but the Frenchman turned them down – they were too ‘small’ for him.

Gregoire Akcelrod: The Fake Footballer Who Conned CSKA Sofia

Ackelrod also trialled at Norwich City (above) and Bournemouth through his fake website

But the right offer nearly came in the summer of 2009, when Akcelrod was asked to train at Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, who had just qualified for the Champions League.

Convinced he was a PSG reserve team player, CSKA offered him a three-year contract worth £15,000-a-month – but an unfortunate series of events involving the club’s supporters saw the Bulgarian side spot the striker’s problem.

Akcelrod recalls: ‘

I did the two-day trial and on Sunday the coach told my agent that he wanted to sign me.

‘They took photos of my in the CKSA official jersey, I signed the contract, they published on the CSKA website that I was signing.

‘But it was the PSG fans who destroyed me. Overnight, one CSKA Sofia fan contacted a PSG online forum and asked, “We are about to sign Greg Akcelrod, what do you think about him?”

‘All the PSG fans didn’t know me. They said I was fake, they checked my website. But some of it was true, the video at Swindon for example.

‘The CSKA fan contacted every journalist in Sofia and it was revealed the club were going to sign a fake player.’

READ ALSO: The Good, Bad & Ugly Of Incoming Chelsea Boss Tuchel

When Akcelrod came down for breakfast on Monday morning, nobody from CSKA wanted to know him anymore and he was asked to head back to France.

The Frenchman had other trials in Greece, Kuwait, and Canada and a year playing for Mississauga Eagles in the top Canadian division was enough for him to finish his story.

Akcelrod is not the first prankster to fool a top football club. The most famous example is Ali Dia back in the 1990s, who fooled Southampton and manager Graeme Souness into agreeing on a one-month deal.

Dia signed for the Saints in 1996 after Souness was contacted by someone claiming to be World Player of the Year George Weah. He recommended that Southampton sign his ‘cousin’ Dia, who had allegedly played and scored for PSG and Senegal.

Dia featured in one five-a-side trial and the next day faced Leeds United in a 2-0 defeat. He never made a second appearance for Southampton.

 

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7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

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7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

When it comes to loyalty and commitment in the beautiful game, there are few football players who are able to pledge their allegiance and refused to be swayed by big offers. For every Ashley Cole, there’s also a Totti.

There are players who when they reach their potentials, will get easily swayed by money and the probable fame that will follow their transition to other clubs. While other players would simply remain at their current club because of the love they have for the club.

The first set of players who leave the club when bigger clubs come calling are always remembered for their exploits while at the club. But, the second type of football player who ignores the temptations of leaving their ‘most loved’ football club sides is regarded as heroes.

Meanwhile, there are some known players who have showcased utmost loyalty for their respective clubs. For instance, Francesco Totti waved off Real Madrid’s offer in 2006, stating AS Roma as his family and he’s never seen a situation where a child would leave his poor parents to go live with rich strangers.

But what about other unpopular loyal players like Francesco Totti, Stephen Gerrard or even Mark Noble?.

Here’s a list of 7 most loyal football players

  • David Zibung (Goalkeeper) – FC Luzern (18 Years +)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

The life of this Swiss goalkeeper has been all about his boyhood club, FC Luzern. The +37-year old was born in Hergiswil which is in the Nidwalden region in Switzerland.

He joined the youth team of FC Luzern in 1999 and was there till 2003. Zibung grew in leaps and bounds with the Luzern main team, ever since he broke into the first team, he’s never for once considered leaving the club.

Technically, Zibung would’ve spent eighteen years at Luzern by July 2021. But he’s definitely spent more than eighteen years given that he’s been at the club’s feeder team before 2003.

Zibung remains one of the oldest and longest-serving loyal goalkeepers of the Swiss League.

  • Hidekazu Otani (Midfielder) – Kashiwa Reysol (18 Years)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

Otani is a midfielder of note, who joined his one and only club in 2000 as a teenager. Now 36 years-old, Okami has been deployed in many parts of the midfield but his natural position is the defensive midfield where he plays comfortably well.

The Japanese veteran midfielder has on numerous occasions been offered to leave his club but his love for the Sun King club has held him back so much so that he’s willing to retire at the club when the time comes.

While some quarters may believe that Hidekazu Okani had been at Kashiwa for eighteen years, the fans of the club see him as an integral part of the club’s history given that he’s won laurels with the club severally.

  • Igor Akinfeev (Goalkeeper) – CSKA Moscow (18 Years)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

Akinfeev is probably the most popular player we’re x-raying in this Exposé. Akinfeev, Russian, is the Russian National Team goalkeeper and captain, as well as his club side, CSKA Moscow.

History has it that the 34-year old shot-stopper has been at CSKA Moscow since the age of four. His father sent him to the Sports School of CSKA where he began his goalkeeping career and won the Russian Junior Championship in 2002 with the CSKA Moscow team.

Akinfeev would make his debut for CSKA Moscow at sixteen, precisely 2001 where he saved a penalty and also had a clean sheet. He has played over five hundred matches for CSKA Moscow, winning six Russian Cup titles, six Russian Premier League titles as well as the 2005 UEFA Cup with the club.

His incredible rise to stardom is down to his personality and ingenuity as a goalkeeper. He’s arguably the best goalkeeper the Russian nation has ever produced and has been on several international tournaments for the country since he joined the national team.

It may sound bizarre but Akinfeev has spent thirty years at the Red-blues. That is a huge commitment mixed with loyalty.

READ ALSO: 7 of the Best Fitness Coaches In Football

  • Ismed Sofyan (Defender) – Persita Jakarta (18 Years)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

Talking about the most loyal player, Sofyan’s loyalty isn’t about his club alone, it’s for his country and his country’s elite league, The Indonesian Super League – Not that he’s an amateur.

Yes, he may have played for a couple of club sides in the Indonesian league, but his love and unwavering support for his country is immeasurable.

Sofyan currently plays for Persita Jakarta, a club he joined in 2002 that has made him become the longest-serving player in the club until now. The 41year-old right full-back is a free-kick specialist. He was only privileged to play for the Indonesian National Team for just 53 times.

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

As of July 2020, Lewinton is the longest-serving player for a single club in English League having spent sixteen years with The Dons.

The English left-back joined MK Dons after a successful spell with Wimbledon in 2004. Lewington, 32, has made over seven hundred appearances with more than 250 different team-mates.

He’s witnessed two promotions and relegations as the club’s captain for the years he’s been at MK Dons and he’s grateful for the sort of longevity he’s had.

He told daily mail in 2016 ‘It’s not like the Premier League where you get five-year deals. It is one or two years. When we won promotion to the Championship in 2015, I was out of contract on the final day as we were celebrating.’

  • Koji Homa (Goalkeeper) – Mito HollyHock (21 Years)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

Undoubtedly a popular figure in the Japanese league, the 43-year-old goalkeeper currently plays for the above-named club in the second tier of the Japanese League, J2.

After graduating from high school, he joined the J1 League side Urawa Reds in 1996 but couldn’t play more often before crossing to Mito HollyHock in 1999 and never looked back.

He’s helped Mito HollyHock achieve some amazing feats since he joined in 1999 with the biggest of them being the promotion of the club to J2 in 2000.

In his twenty-one-year sojourn with the club, Koji Homma holds the record for the player with the highest number of matches played in J2.

  • Lee Casciaro (Forward) – Lincoln Red Imps (22 Years)

7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players

The 38-year-old Gibraltar striker scored the only goal of the game when his Gibraltarian minnows club (Lincoln Red Imps) shocked Celtic and to a larger extent, the rest of Europe in their Champions League qualifier at the Victoria Stadium in 2016,

Cascario, 39, has been at the club since he was eight years old and has spent twenty-three years as a first-team member.

It should be agreed that Lincoln Red Imps was made for Cascario, given that two of his younger brothers have played for the club as well.

With three international goals, Lee Henry Cascario is currently Gibraltar’s all-time goalscorer since the 33,684 populated nation joined UEFA.

 

Honorable Mentions

    • Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao): 11 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Tarantini (Rio Ave): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Stefan Radu (Lazio): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Vincent Manceau (Angers SCO): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Anthony Lopes (Lyon): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Koke (Atletico Madrid): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Roberto Torres (Osasuna): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Gerard Pique (Barcelona): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Mario Gaspar Perez (Villarreal): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow): 13 years, 1 month, 3 days
    • Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur): 13 years, 1 month, 10 days
    • Volodymyr Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
    • Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
    • Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
    • Sergio Busquets (Barcelona): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
    • Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Marcelo (Real Madrid): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem): 14 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid): 15 years, 4 days
    • Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Jessy Moulin (Saint-Etienne): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Oier (Osasuna): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Sergio Alvarez (Celta de Vigo): 16 years, 2 months, 4 days
    • Mark Noble (West Ham United): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Lionel Messi: (Barcelona): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
    • Denis Sinyayev(FC Avangard Kursk)18 years
    • Ismaeil Matar (Al-Wahda): 19 years
    • Petr Literak(Frýdek-Místek):  22 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise

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Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking RiseErling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise

Erling Haaland was always going to become the ultimate striker and probably the best number 9 on the planet. Also, there’s every possibility that one day, he may become a Ballon D’or winner. But, there’s still one mystery, how did he become the cyborg that he is today?

Haaland continues to be a goal machine, becoming the quickest player in history to reach 20 Champions League goals. His goal from the spot in the UCL round-16 second leg tie against Sevilla was his 20th goal in just 14 appearances in the competition, which broke Harry Kane’s previous record of 24 games.

Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking RiseErling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise

UCL- Round of 16 Second Leg – Borussia Dortmund v Sevilla – Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany – March 9, 2021 Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring.

“Of course he’s fast, powerful, good around the goal and he’s got real soccer sense. But it’s more of his energy, it’s his infectious personality that I think is like a magnet; it draws people to him, it makes people want to be around him.” Those are the words of Red Bull Salzburg manager, Jesse Marsch.

Grab a handful of popcorn and sit back as we unfold the story behind the rise of this Norwegian beast, goal machine, and keeper’s nightmare, Erling Braut Haaland.

Haaland’s Salzburg Breakthrough

As at when Jesse Marsch was appointed as Salzburg manager, Haaland had been at the club for about six months and had only played one game. And then he went to the U-20 World Cup where he scored nine goals in one game.

From his Salzburg debut, Haaland, who had already impressed at the Norwegian league with Bryne and Molde left observers with no doubt about the quality he possesses.

Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking RiseErling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise

Erling Haaland (L) and Dominik Szoboszlai (R) both of FC Salzburg celebrate after the champions league group E match between FC Salzburg and KRC Genk at Salzburg Stadion on September 17, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria. (Photo by Andreas Schaad/Bongarts/Getty Images)

He would become one of the best strikers on the planet because the talent in him was very obvious. In a chat with oh-my-goal, Jesse Marsch revealed that Haaland’s personality was the first thing he fell in love with about Haaland.

“The first couple of days I worked with him, what impressed me more than anything else was his personality on the pitch. He was just relentless! He worked harder than anyone.”

But beyond his raw talent in Salzburg, Erling Haaland left his mark on the locker room with his personality. He had a smile on his face and got along incredibly well with his teammates. Therefore, it wasn’t just his talent, it was his overall energy.

Erling in person had a really positive influence on his teammates. Erling the player, was a selfish assassin who scored 29 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian club.

Meanwhile, he also always talked about making his teammates happy. “The best memory I Had of him was when we were getting penalties in just about every game, and he was giving them to all the other attacking players.

“And then, after a player missed a penalty, I said Ok, Erling has to take the penalties and I told him he would be taking the penalties”

It’s incredible to have such a talented player who loves to score goals, be the one that is giving the penalty responsibilities to the others because he wants them to feel the power of success, the power of scoring goals, and the power of confidence. That says a lot to me about the character of Erling.” Marsch revealed.

At 19, when most people think about personal glory, Haaland was already a perfect teammate and a future leader which was unprecedented for a player as good as he was and in his age range.

Without a doubt, Haaland’s personality was great enthusiastic and it did really have a big effect on a lot of people at Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Fall From Grace: Bolton Wanderers Steep Decline

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Influence

Erling Haaland may owe his incredible rise to his immense talent and his positive leadership qualities. But that’s not all, Cristiano Ronaldo also played a huge role in Haaland’s evolution.

People often say that Erling Haaland is the next Cristiano Ronaldo but is the CR7 comparison justified?

Certainly, Erling is more of a pure striker than Cristiano but from a power football perspective, his ability in the transition to affect games like the Portuguese ace makes the comparison justifiable.

Haaland himself admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo was his role model but if like Cristiano, Erling broke all the goalscoring records, it’s not really the part of football that CR7 has influenced.

Haaland is following in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps in terms of leadership and he even is now a role model to many players just like Ronaldo was to him.

Cristiano Ronaldo has had positive effects on his teammates and in every team, he’s played in which really helped him overtime right from his days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. But for Erling, one could really see that right from his young age that it’s a natural quality he has.

It will be up to Haaland to continue to modify that aspect of himself and mold that in a way that he can become a really strong leader within his teams as he continues to grow older.

Above all, Haaland took inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo in one essential area, work ethic. Like CR7, he’s always hungry to improve. “He really worked hard a lot. After training, he would stick around to finish, to hit some crosses, to work on his heading.” – Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg Coach.

Like CR7, Erling Haaland thinks every little detail counts. He would wear special glasses because he felt like when you look at your computer all day long or your cell phone, that your eyes would start to fade and so he had that special glasses he always wears.

And while he has his own personality, Erling is directly inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo especially when it comes to nutrition and work ethic by picking the most hardworking professional football player in history as his role model.

Perfect With BVB

Borussia Dortmund activated his €20 million (£17m/$22m) release clause, beating United and Leipzig to his signature after all three clubs held meetings with the player, his father, and agent Mino Raiola.

Borussia Dortmund already had forward Paco Alcacer on the books, but saw Haaland as such a generational talent, that they were willing to offload the Spain international to give the Norwegian teen an even better chance of success.

CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says that they had been looking for someone with Haaland’s particular skill set for a long time and could not pass up the opportunity to sign him.

“We always wanted to have a center-forward who has a different way of playing football,” Watzke told Goal and DAZN. “But this guy also had to come onto the market first.

There are not many who are 1.94 meters (6 ft 4 in) tall and that fast. Actually, nobody else comes to mind. It was just an opportunity that you don’t get very often. – Goal.com

Dortmund offered the striker the best chance of regular game time as they promised to make him their first-choice striker, something Alf-Inge Haaland admits is crucial to his development.

Haaland’s Dortmund story got off to the perfect start with the most incredible debut against Augsburg. Trailing 3-1, Lucien Favre sent on the teenager from the bench and was rewarded with a 22-minute hat-trick to help secure a 5-3 win.

Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking RiseErling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise

Erling Haaland Hits 23-Minute Debut Hat-Trick as Borussia Dortmund Beat Augsburg 5-3

READ ALSO: Mario Gotze: The Making, The Decline & Possible Resurgence

Haaland’s Future

Having revealed all the secrets that make Haaland an outstanding striker, in all honesty, the Norwegian striker has no limit because he keeps getting better at Dortmund.

He was incredible at Salzburg. “We were obviously so sad to lose him so quickly because we had a lot of fun and success with him, but we’re also very proud of him and we’re really excited to see him continue to push himself and move forward and show everybody in the world how good he is.”

And today, he’s showing just how good he is in Germany. He used to only be seen as a superpowered and superfast goalscorer. But at Dortmund? He’s also shown his technical advances and his in-game intelligence and influence.

He’s more and more capable of keeping the ball, playing in different positions, taking part in the game, in short, he’s become the ultimate striker.

Giving his unique skill-set and amazing personality, he will definitely sign for a bigger club in years to come. Yes, he may experience some difficulties, but his quality will help him manage whatever challenge that comes his way and in-turn become the best number 9 of not only his generation but in football history.

 

 

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