Everton’s January pursuit of Brazilian striker Everton has a nice ring to it. I’m struggling to remember if any footballer has played for a club with the same surname and. if the deal does go through, whether or not this will break new ground.
Down the years, of course, there have been many players who could have been the first to do this if circumstances had been different, so let’s take a look at seven who had the potential to be trailblazers.
SIR BOBBY CHARLTON
It’s unlikely that the king of the wrap-over would ever have racked up at The Valley during a career that seemed to span 50 years and which saw him play seven million games (one more than Pele) before hanging up his boots in the late 1970s. When he joined Manchester United in 1956, Bobby was already thinning on top and by the time he helped England win the World Cup in 1966, the island was starting to appear.
When he bid farewell to United in 1973, his barnet was parted from halfway down the back of his head with just a few strands clinging on up top. Only Tottenham’s Ralph Coates, who also came from the North East, managed to get anywhere near Bobby’s look. Sir Bob is probably one of the nicest men in football and along with his brother Jack, will always be remembered for that wonderful July day at Wembley.
It’s common knowledge that Argentine World Cup winner Ricky Villa only joined Spurs in 1978 as part of a job lot with Ossie Ardiles, who wanted a mate to travel with him and help him settle in London. As more Argentines poured into England off the back of Ossie and Ricky’s arrival, surely Aston Villa boss Ron Saunders missed a trick by not trying to prise the latter from the clutches of his opposite number at White Hart Lane Keith Burkinshaw.
Having said that, Saunders was renowned for being a miserable fu**er so the significance would have probably been wasted on him. Ricky’s finest moment came at Wembley in 1981 in the FA Cup Final replay, when he scored one of the most iconic goals in the stadium’s history. The following year Maggie Thatcher decided to invade the Falkland Islands and that pretty much did for Villa, who returned home to become a farmer.
During the mid-to-late 1970s Alan Sunderland spent more time at Wembley than the Duchess of Kent. In ’74 he won the League Cup with Wolves before playing in three consecutive FA Cup Finals with Arsenal between 1978 and 1980. His most famous moment came in 1979 when he scored a late winner for The Gunners against Manchester United in a match that became known as “The Five-Minute Final”.
Born in Conisbrough, Yorkshire, Sunderland never ventured any further north, which is a pity – because if he’d rolled up at Roker Park he may have got another Wembley appearance under his belt in 1973. The man with the big perm ended his top-flight career at Ipswich Town and was also capped once by England, but don’t ask me who that was against.
The Argentine will forever be associated with missing ten penalties in one match playing for his country against Colombia in the Copa America in 1999. Okay, it was three, but Palermo still found himself in the Guinness Book of World Records thanks to his incompetence.
Argentina has a proud history of sending its players to Italy and it’s a shame the six-foot two inch striker never ended up in Sicily, during a career which spanned almost 20 years. Palermo is a legend at Boca Juniors however where he was a goalscoring machine, finding the net over 200 times in 318 appearances.
When Sir Alex Ferguson forked out 16 million quid for Wigan Athletic’s Ecuador international Antonio Valencia in 2009, many people thought that he’d lost his mind. What nobody could foresee however was that Fergie had plans to turn the player from a midfielder into one of the best full-backs of the Premier League era.
Sir Alex was spot on of course and ten years later Valencia left Old Trafford with two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, two Community Shields and a Europa League and was voted United’s Player of the Year in 2012. Things could have been a little different if back in 2005, Antonio had gone just a bit further up the road when he landed in Spain and headed to The Mestalla rather than signing for Villarreal.
In 2002 Jimmy “Jinky” Johnstone was voted Celtic’s greatest ever player – a fitting tribute to a man who never played for St Johnstone, was born about 10 minutes from Parkhead and who was hailed as one of British football’s greatest ever wingers. Jinky won nine Scottish League titles but he will always be remembered for his part in Celtic’s 1967 European Cup triumph in Lisbon, against a brutal Inter Milan side that tried to decapitate him every time he got hold of the ball.
His fear of flying was legendary so Celtic boss Jock Stein would promise Jinky that if he played well in the home legs of European ties, he needn’t bother coming to the away games. He also liked a drink and in 1974 before a game against England in the Home International Championship, he decided to go out to sea in a rowing boat after a particularly long session at the Scotland team hotel in Largs. That would have been fine, but Jinky forgot to take the oars and ended up half way to the Faroe Islands before the coastguard picked him up.
The 29-year-old Costa Rican international left-back played over 50 times for Everton – unfortunately it was over a five-year spell and primarily as a substitute, which in football parlance makes him your archetypal squad player. A sickening double leg fracture didn’t help his cause and in 2017 he was shipped off to Sunderland, where he did slightly better before returning to FC Copenhagen for a second spell and where he currently resides.
The shirt printers at all the clubs he has represented could have made a killing if Bryan had gone for his full name on the back of his shirt – Josue Oviedo Jimenez, but the fact that full-back is not a particularly sexy position and that he prefers to be named after a Spanish second division side seems to make much more sense.