In the second of his series of peeks at the past Mick Chappell reviews the ‘Foreign Legionnaires’ who have played a part in the Magpies progress, or lack of the same!
The first overseas player to arrive at the start of the new Millennium was Australian full-back, Andy McDermott (2000) and more soon flooded in as Jocky Scott recruited Guadeloupian David Joseph (2000), Frenchman Fabrice Moreau (2000), Norwegian Anders Jacobsen (2000) and Dane Henrick Jorgensen (2000-01). Nevertheless Scott’s best signing was undoubtedly powerfully built winger Marcel Cas (2001-02) even though the Dutchman ultimately flattered to deceive.
As might be expected, good old Billy Dearden was subsequently much more conservative as regards his transfer targets, but he did bring classy Zambian-born Northern Ireland international Jeff Whitley (2001) to the Lane and Nigerian Chibuzor Chilaka, one of his young recruits, eventually appeared in an LDV Trophy game in 2005.
In contrast to Billy, Gary Mills showed much more cosmopolitan tendencies as his shopping list began with Frenchman Michael Antoine-Curier (2003), who soon got the boot in unfortunate circumstances, and the ill-fated Guadeloupian goalkeeper Pegguy Arphaxad (2003). Others who soon followed were Steve Scoffham (2003-05), who, as the son of a serving soldier, was born in Germany, Frenchmen Julien Baudet (2004-05) and Youseff Sofiane (2004), Aussie import Ruben Zadkovich (2004-05) and Bosnian Faz Kuduzovic (2004), who was actually acquired from less distant parts, namely Derby County.
Things quietened down a bit after that as County’s first foreign manager, Gudjon Thordarson, surprisingly restricted himself to just two overseas players - Ivorian Eugene Dadi (2005) and Mali-born, Noe Sissoko (2005). Next to arrive was that second ‘wild card’ entry from the Isle of Wight, Gary Silk (2006), who figures on our rapidly lengthening list alongside two other Steve Thompson foreign protégés, Tcham N’Toya Zoa (2006) from the Congo and Trinidadian Hector Sam (2007).
The McParland era produced just a couple of foreign imports. Germany’s Felix Bastians (2007), whom Charlie had previously coached over the River, and the medium-sized, great Dane Kasper Schmeichel, who, along with Hughesy, epitomised all that was best about the Munto ‘experience’!
Although Craig Short brought David Grof to Nottingham during his brief managerial reign, the Hungarian ’keeper didn’t manage a first team appearance whilst here, so he can’t really be counted. Sadly, Gambian Demba-Nyren Njog (2010), the only by-product of Incey’s international address book will, however, be well remembered for one of the most glaring Magpies’ misses of all time.
Although of Algerian extraction, Hamza Bencherif (2011-12) was in fact born in Paris, whilst Martin Allen’s only other contributions to our Foreign Legion were laid-back Jamaican defender Damion Stewart (2011-12) and the much more energetic Columbian striker Cristian Montano (2011). So to more recent times during which three of Keith Curle’s attacking acquisitions, Daniel Bogdanovic (2011), who is a Maltese international despite rather confusingly having been born in Libya of Serbian-Slovenian parents, Nigerian Dele Adebola (2011) and Ivorian Francois Zoko (2012-13) have all become but fading memories.
However, County’s current contingent of overseas players does include a valuable legacy from KC in the shape of Polish ’keeper Bart Bialkowski (2012-13) together with his young German understudy Fabian Spiess (2011-13) and French striker Yoann Arquin (2012-13). Finally, Curle’s successor, Chris Kiwomya, has thus far gambled on three non-British born players - Ghanaian John Cofie (2012), Jeremy Balmy (2013), who recently became the 10th player if French extraction to appear for the ‘Pies and, Canadian international Marcus Haber.
Though I may be wrong, according to my reckoning other large contingents amongst County’s aggregate total of 62 foreign players are formed by seven Australians, four Germans and four Nigerians, with smaller quotas originating from 27 other countries. Perhaps, however, those ‘stats’ shouldn’t really include my three facetious ‘ringers’ from Guernsey and the Isle of Wight!
So, have our overseas players provided value for money? In all honesty, I think one would have to say that relatively few members of County’s Foreign Legion have made significant contributions to the cause over the last 90 years.
In truth the majority of them, including the intriguing Ted Robledo, are now faceless men who have disappeared into the mists of time without really influencing the Magpies’ long term progress, or indeed, survival to any great extent. So much so, in fact, that only Tristan Benjamin (386), Raddy Avramovic (182), Shaun Murphy (135), Danny Allsopp (123), John Chiedozie (120) and Chris Short (115) completed more than 100 appearances for the ’Pies.
At the other end of the scale, over 50 per cent of the Legionnaires only made a dozen or less appearances, so perhaps it’s hardly surprising that just seven have netted 10 or more goals during their Meadow Lane careers, with Allsopp (54), Paddy Mills (36) and Chiedozie (20) leading the way in that respect.
To read part one of Mick's investigation into the Foreign Legionnaires, click here.
Look out for more blog entries coming soon to the official site…