The transfers that rocked the world

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So Kaka’s move to Real Madrid has sort of broken the world record for a transfer fee – if you use pounds as the measurement; thanks to decreased value of sterling to the Euro during the recent recession and subsequent money-printing.

Anyway, little Ricky’s move was reason enough, we thought, to list The 25 Transfers That Rocked The World, as originally seen in ye olde-fashioned magazine version of FourFourTwo.

Over the next five days we’ll be bringing you the 25 in five fun-sized instalments – and we’d love to hear which transfers have shocked, riled, and delighted you most over the years.

Tommy Lawton, Chelsea to Notts County
£20,000, November 1947

Imagine Wayne Rooney swapping Manchester United for Mansfield. In 1947, Tommy Lawton – the Rooney of his era – effectively did just that.

Lawton was a Chelsea and England centre-forward, a magnificent and elegant striker reputed to be even better than William ‘Dixie’ Dean.

But like so many footballers, off the pitch Lawton was afflicted by personal demons. In 1945 he left Everton, where he had been happy, to escape his troubled marriage. His wife followed him south, however, and the difficulties persisted.

Lawton: Not a badge-kisser 

By autumn 1947, Lawton was looking for another fresh start and so requested a transfer. He hoped to join Arsenal, but they couldn't stump up the £20,000 fee. But Third Division Notts County could.

It was a staggering move with all sorts of wild rumours surrounding it. Lawton was said to have received a huge signing-on fee, or a lucrative ‘sham’ second job to boost his football earnings, which were limited by the wage cap.

Lawton always denied such stories, claiming to have received only the £10 signing-on fee permitted by the FA and to have chosen County because they were managed by his friend, Arthur Stollery, a former Chelsea masseur.

But he always regretted the move. Ã¢Â€ÂœOn reflection,” he said, “I should have stayed and transferred the wife.”

Clive Allen QPR to Arsenal
£1.25 million, May 1980

In February 1979, Trevor Francis became the country’s first £1 million player when he moved from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest.

If that fee, for a 25-year-old England international, caused eyebrows to rise, then they were virtually hitting the roof just over a year later.

Nineteen-year-old Clive Allen had scored 32 goals in just 49 league games for QPR when Arsenal stepped in to make him the world’s most expensive teenager in a £1.25 million transfer in June 1980.

But 63 days and three friendly appearances later, the youngster was on the move again, this time to Crystal Palace in a swap deal for defender Kenny Sansom.

"Where do you see yourself in five years' time?" 

Speculation abounded, much of it centring on Palace wanting Allen’s services, but not having the cash to prise him from Loftus Road and using the highly sought-after Sansom as a bargaining chip to get the Gunners to do their bidding.

“Several different theories were put forward,” recalls Allen. “There was no foundation to any of them, but it was quite an experience to be involved in. I mean, if Arsenal wanted Kenny Sansom why didn’t they just buy him straight from Palace?”

Gianluigi Lentini, Torino to AC Milan
£13 million, July 1992

AC Milan's decision to pay a world-record £13 million for the 24-year-old was slammed by the Vatican’s daily newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, as “an offence against the dignity of work.”

In truth, the figure was inflated because Juventus had joined Milan in a bidding war for a player who had become a hero at Torino.

After his transfer went through, Torino fans showed their displeasure by storming their club’s head office.

A record-breaker (clothes model's own) 

Lentini looked a decent player – if not quite value for money – as he played 30 games in his first season at Milan, and was a key figure in their Scudetto success.

But the following year he was involved in a horrific car crash which fractured his skull and put him in a coma for 24 hours.

He only played another 30 games for Milan in the next four years, and was never the same player again. Milan made a huge loss when they sold him back to Torino for £2m in 1997.

Once there, as in his first spell, he helped them win promotion to Serie A. He may not have been a hero at Milan, but for one half of Turin, his legendary status is secure.

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

You’re a Newcastle fan back in early 1995. Life is sweet. Your beloved club has equipped itself brilliantly in the Premier League and 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 when he sold Andy Cole (he hadn’t asked to be called Andrew back then), Keegan had to step out of his St James’ Park office and face the hordes of unhappy fans on the stadium’s steps.

"What do you mean, shocking? Oh, the jacket..." 

The fee was a British record but 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. 

As for Cole, his first season at United seemed to overwhelm him. As he struggled for consistency in front of goal - with Eric Cantona banned for his kung-fu moment - the title was surrendered to Blackburn.

The striker had the last laugh though, winning five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, the League Cup and the Champions League.

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

He was the golden boy of Croatian football, an elegant playmaker whose tall, slightly hunched gait was reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane.

Then, overnight, he became the target of almost 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.

Kranjcar of Zagreb against Boa Morte of Fulham 

Most observers expected his agent, Dino Pokrovac, to negotiate a deal with a foreign club, but he instead he agreed a €1.5 million deal with Dinamo’s arch-rivals, Hajduk Split.

That May, Pokrovac was shot dead in a mafia-style hit at his home in Zagreb. His killers have never been caught.

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 mercilessly taunted by opposing fans as Debeli – ‘Fatty’.

When Dinamo won the league the following season, a number of players were filmed celebrating in Zagreb’s main square chanting “The fatty's won f*ck 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.

Transfers that rocked the world: Part II
Transfers that rocked the world: Part III
Transfers that rocked the world: Part IV

Transfers that rocked the world: Part V

---------------------------------------------- More to read...
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