Do you Paul Sturrock take thee Eka Basunga Mpenza...

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Mike Holden casts his eye over Plymouth's new international signing... 

If you thought Dimitar Berbatov’s move to Manchester United was protracted, get a load of this story about Emile Mpenza’s transfer to Plymouth Argyle.

Indeed, for those of you still grieving on behalf of Ramon Calderon and Peter Kenyon and their disappointment at missing out on Ronaldo and Robinho, this little tale should be enough to warm your cockles and put a smile back on your face. A happy ending if ever there was one.

Because Paul Sturrock isn’t so much an admirer of the former Belgian international as a lifelong stalker.

"There ain't nothing about Emile Mpenza I don't know" 

Asked about how the transfer came about, Sturrock couldn’t resist spinning a good old yarn to convince the Home Park faithful about his shrewd eye for a player.

“When I was with Dundee United, I contemplated taking him from Mouscron when he was very young,” he said, hitting the close button on Wikipedia. Apparently, Sturrock’s pursuit of Mpenza would have gone back earlier but, understandably, he didn’t fancy his chances of pronouncing his first club KV Kortrijk.

OK, so that was 12 years ago. A Belgian young-footballer-of-the-year signing for Dundee United. Sounds feasible. But then he couldn’t resist taking this particular episode of Jackanory not just one, but two chapters further.

“I also thought about taking him to Southampton,” he continued, forgetting that his tenure at St Mary’s wasn’t long enough for him to move his Tartan Army Espana '82 and Mexico '86 pennants into the office.

But just wait for the icing on the cake... “and I was really tempted when I was with Sheffield Wednesday and he was in Germany.” OK, so let’s get this straight. The Owls were playing in the old third division while Mpenza was plying his trade for Hamburg in the Bundesliga? I’m not surprised you were tempted, Luggy.

Mpenza: Ready to take the Championship by storm

So what happened then? Did you custard pie the idea to chase a three-time Pichichi winner at Deportivo La Coruna instead?

Well, anyway, it does sound like a decent signing for the Pilgrims. And we have ourselves a manager and player joined in holy matrimony without a penny changing hands. And isn’t that what football should all be about?