Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano
Corinthians to West Ham United
August 2006, Unknown

When it seems too good to be true, it often is. Argentinian World Cup stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano arrived at West Ham in a blaze of publicity – 24 hours before talk of a takeover by their transfer broker, Kia Joorabchian.
Joorabchian never saw the deal through but the tangled web he weaved plunged the Hammers’ season into pure farce with uncertainty over who actually “owned” the players; Joorabchian, or the club.
Mascherano left for Liverpool in January, eventually having his registration cleared in mid-February. Tevez then inspired West Ham to a Lazarus-style comeback saving them on the final day of the season with the only goal at Manchester United, whom he’s since joined.
An angry “Gang of Four” (Sheffield United, Charlton, Fulham and Wigan) pushed for West Ham to be docked points that would have seen them demoted. Instead, the Hammers were slapped with a £5.5 million fine, and that was that.

Jean-Marc Bosman
RFC Liege to Dunkirk
August 1990, "A Bosman"

Who could have predicted that Dunkirk’s decision to sign a journeyman Belgian striker in 1990 would change football forever and allow today’s players, some of whom weren’t born when Bosman began his career, to earn their current salaries?
Bosman had seen out his four-year contract at RFC Liege and rejected their new deal on a reduced wage. He agreed terms with Dunkirk, and signed a contract when the clubs settled on a fee. But when Liege changed Bosman’s valuation to 400,000, over four times what he originally cost them, Dunkirk dropped out of the deal and Bosman was left clubless. He sued Liege and the Belgian FA, and took the caseto the European Court of Justice who five years later, ruled that Liege should have allowed the transfer as he was out of contract. By then, Bosman was playing for a fourth-division club, Vise.
The ruling immediately handed players the power to run down their contracts and switch clubs with huge signing-on fees. Wage inflation soon followed. Bosman was frustrated that his efforts were not better rewarded than the £720,000 ($1.5m) he earned from the settlement. “It makes me most happy when people stop me to say thank you,” he says, but his bitterness at missing the gravy train he helped build is all too apparent.

Trevor Francis
Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest
February 1979, £1 million

In February 1979, just one month after West Brom boss Ron Atkinson made Middlesbrough’s David Mills British football’s first £500,000 man, he was spectacularly trumped by his Midlands rival Brian Clough.
In a typically flamboyant gesture, Clough doubled Atkinson’s record, paying Birmingham City £1 million to bring striker Trevor Francis to Nottingham Forest. It was, recalled Clough’s biographer, Duncan Hamilton, “football’s equivalent of breaking the sound barrier”.
Seldom has such a high-profile signing made such an impact. Less than four months after his arrival, Francis headed the winner against Malmo in the European Cup final.
“He added a sparkle to any team that he played for,” Clough later said, “And that goal in Munich will put his name up in Forest lights forever.”
Francis joined Manchester City in 1981 and later had a long spell in Italy, before embarking on a managerial career of varying success. He now works as a TV pundit. But even after all these years, the “million pound man” tag won’t leave him. “Even to this day, it is what I am introduced as,” he said in 2004. “Which is strange because I have been involved in the game since 1969 and played and managed some big teams, but it is always the thing that comes up.”

Diego Maradona
Barcelona to Napoli
June 1984, £6.9 million

“I truly believed Barcelona was the club for me, the best club in the world,” declared Diego Maradona, who joined the Catalans for a world-record £4.5 million transfer from Boca Juniors in 1982. “But I didn’t anticipate the idiosyncrasies of the Catalans. I didn’t imagine, either, that I was going to come up against an imbecile like the president, Nunez.”
Two unhappy years later and El Diego was transferred to Napoli, a club he admitted he knew nothing about. “My time at Barcelona was ill-fated,” Maradona claimed. “Because of hepatitis, injury, the city and because I’m more… Madrid. Because of my bad relations with Nunez and because there my relationship with drugs began.”
Maradona may have blamed everyone but himself for his Catalan ills, but he admitted that
he was “down to zero, 25 and without a penny,” and needed a signing-on fee to clear debts.
And that he’d continually threatened to leave.
A mediocre Barça side had tired of his spoilt antics and were happy to sell him to a team they didn’t consider rivals for £6.9m. Napoli was a perfect fit as they indulged the diminutive Argentinian from
the minute 80,000 Neapolitans saw him presented to the fans. A revelation, he stayed for seven
years and won six trophies, including their first two scudettos.

Andy Cole
Newcastle United to Manchester United
January 1995, £7 million

You’re a Newcastle fan back in early 1995. Life is sweet. Your beloved club has equipped itself brilliantly in the Premier League, look likely to challenge for honours under Kevin Keegan,
a manager working his way to Messiah status. Then, out of nowhere, news filters through that your unstoppable centre-forward has been sold to Manchester United, the very club you were hoping to replace as the nation’s best.
Such was the shock that met Andy Cole’s (he hadn’t asked to be called Andrew back then) move
to Old Trafford, Kevin Keegan had to step out of his St James’ Park office and face the hoards of unhappy fans on the stadium’s steps. The fee was a British record but no matter, Cole had managed 55 goals in 70 appearances for the Magpies. Keegan pleaded with fans to trust him, went onto spend the money on Les Ferdinand and almost brought the title to the North East the very next season.
Cole struggled to find consistency in front of goal in his first season at United and, with Cantona banned for his kung-fu moment, the title was surrendered to Blackburn.
Cole had the last laugh though, winning five Premier Leagues, Two FA Cups, the League Cup and the Champions League.

Sol Campbell
Spurs to Arsenal
July 2001, Free

Sol Campbell was not the first to make the switch across North London, and some, such as Pat Jennings and Terry Neill, have even gone on to achieve success at both clubs, but no other player to do so has generated so much bile. Having come up through the ranks at White Hart Lane, Campbell was not just Spurs’ captain and best player, he was a cult hero in the making. He also had ambitions that the club couldn’t match, primarily a desire for Champions League football.
More realistic Spurs supporters accepted his eventual departure as inevitable, and during protracted talks over his future in 2001, it was clear that Manchester United and several top European clubs were also interested. He had, in fact, gone on record, in the Spurs magazine, saying he would never sign for the Gunners. The fact that he opted to do so, and “on a Bosman” so that Spurs received nothing for a player they had nurtured for a decade, simply fanned the flames. Some Spurs fans posted Campbell’s mobile phone number onto the internet, prompting Arsenal to consider hiring a bodyguard to ensure his safety. Arsenal, with no transfer fee due to pay, allegedly broke their wage structure and pay him £100,000 a week – reinforcing Campbell’s image as a money-grabbing mercenary, forever to be known as “Judas” at the Lane.

Niko Kranjcar
Dinamo Zagreb to Hajduk Split
January 2005, £1.2 million

He was the golden boy of Croatian football, then overnight he became the target of universal scorn.
His father, Zlatko, had been a hero at Dinamo Zagreb, and Niko seemed to be going the same way
as he became their youngest ever captain and led them to the title in 2003. But midway through the 2004-05 season, he fell out with the club’s management.
Most observers expected his agent, Dino Pokrovac, to negotiate a deal with a foreign club, but he instead he agreed a €1.5million deal with Dinamo’s arch-rivals, Hajduk Split. That May, Pokrovac was shot dead in a mafia-style hit at his home in Zagreb.
Kranjcar’s form suffered, and although Hajduk lifted the title in 2005, they won only three of the 10 games in which Kranjcar played. That decline continued the following season and he was taunted by opposing fans as Debeli – “Fatty”. When Dinamo won the league the following season, a number of players, including Vedran Corluka, were filmed celebrating in Zagreb’s main square chanting, “The Fatty’s won fuck all”.
A bad World Cup – when his father was national coach – followed, and it was only after his move to Portsmouth that he began to win over the Croatian public again. A hardcore of Dinamo fans, though, will never forgive him.

This is an abridged version the 25 Transfers That Rocked The World, which appeared in the October issue of Australian FourFourTwo. Don't miss out on the full articles, subscribe to FFT here