Welcome to the fourth in our new fortnightly feature Six of One, in which we pick a theme and consider six of the best, most interesting candidates and contrast them with half a dozen of the worst.
This week's theme was inspired by Manchester United's visit to Chelsea on Monday night for the FA Cup quarter-final. Three, a third, of United's post-Sir Matt Busby managers, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton and Jose Mourinho, first managed Chelsea but what about the players transferred between the two clubs? Some have been outstanding for both and they and those who were successful following their transfers are in the first category while those whose moves decidedly didn't work out, to use the old polite euphemism, are in the latter section.
It is very much a subjective selection so please feel free to dispute the evaluations and nominate your own notable examples in the comments section below.
1. Ray Wilkins
Cast all your preconceptions and prejudices aside and particularly those formed by Ron Atkinson’s slovenly mischievous coining of ‘the Crab’ as a nickname for Ray Wilkins. The Chelsea and Manchester United midfielder was a magnificent player who would have been entitled not just to bear a grievance towards the manager he served at Old Trafford for three seasons, during which he scored a sensational FA Cup final goal in 1983, but also to give him a right-hander in payment for the casual ridicule it brought him from footballing imbeciles.
If you were lucky enough to see ‘Butch’ Wilkins at 18 in 1975 when he was appointed captain of his boyhood club, Chelsea, and tried manfully and with great skill and vision to haul them out of relegation trouble or for the next two years when he became the principal creator and motivator who sparked a young side’s rise, you may regret that some conservatism entered his play after he joined Manchester United in 1979 for £800,000 and more so when paired with the dynamic Bryan Robson in 1981. He could easily have continued to be an outstanding box-to-box midfielder to challenge the pre-eminence of Robson in the Eighties but he stifled those instincts to serve the team and ended up being insulted for it.
Yet, look at the handful of Football League midfielders who were bought by Italian sides in the Eighties: Liam Brady, Graeme Souness and Wilkins. Each of them were thought to have the class and mettle to thrive in the hardest league and each of them, in trying circumstances, did. Wilkins left Manchester United for a record £1.5m in 1984 and become yet more technically accomplished, demonstrating on his return to Rangers under Souness that his control and passing were even more refined than when he left and when allowed to be the playmaker again as he was at Chelsea that he could run the game with the old verve allied to the Italian-inspired superior fitness.
Wilkins has been judged harshly by comparison with Robson, the man who assumed and never relinquished the captaincy of club and country from him when Wilkins was injured. Both were leaders, both were consummate team men but their skills were not exactly complementary and it was Wilkins, harshly, who suffered for it. Simply, he was far too good to be Robson’s water-carrier but Atkinson lacked the imagination to come up with something radical, clever and better.
2. Tommy Meehan
In December 1920 Manchester United transferred their abrasive, 24-year-old Harpurhey-born left-half Tommy Meehan to Chelsea for a fee of £3,300 but curiously no mention was made of the British transfer record in contemporary reports, though it officially stood at the £2,500 Blackburn Rovers had paid Hearts for Percy Dawson in February 1914, five months before the start of the First World War.
Another anomaly in the information available about the blond midfielder who played 51 games for United in the Football League (Lancashire Section) and the First Division on the resumption of national competition in 1919, is his recorded height of 5ft 6in. The average male height in Britain during the 1920s was 5ft 83/4in but Meehan was variously described as “tiny”, “diminutive” and “a midget”.
He spent three and a half seasons in Chelsea’s first team, helping their recovery from 18th to ninth in 1921-22, played 124 league games and was rewarded with an England cap in the Home Championship defeat by Ireland in Belfast in 1923, sadly England’s wooden spoon year. The correspondent of the Shields Daily News, archly suspicious of the selectors’ preferences for southern and Lancashire-based players, called him ‘London’s Pet’ but conceded: “He is a terror of an opponent to beat. Indeed one might say of Meehan that he is never beaten - a regular warrior who never leaves you to work your schemes unhampered and a ‘goer’ from the first moment of the hardest game to the last.”
In March 1924, after suffering two bereavements the previous year, he fell ill and was eventually admitted to St George’s Hospital in Knightsbridge (now a hotel, The Lanesborough), where he died on August 18 1924 at the age of 28, one of a million fatal victims of the encephalitis lethargica or ‘sleepy sickness’ epidemic that swept the world from 1915-26.
The national newspapers recorded his death but it was left to the locals to pay appropriate tribute. The Dundee Evening Telegraph lamented that he had just enjoyed his best season and noted: “His smiling face and shock of golden hair made him very conspicuous on the field and if it were not so official for the spectators to recognise him. Meehan could always be singled out by the deadly earnestness of his tackling, which was simply wonderful for a man of his stature.”
Chelsea and the Athletic News set up drives to help his ‘penniless’ widow and dependents and the Football League sent a ‘Rest of England’ team to play a memorial match at Stamford Bridge. Buckets handed round at Maine Road during Manchester City’s match against Newcastle raised £50 and by December 1924, a year when the average yearly salary was £260 and the maximum footballer’s wage of £8 in the winter and £6 in the summer allowed Meehan to gross at most £400, Mrs Meehan was presented with a fund totalling almost £2,000.
‘Wee’ Meehan, a gritty, dedicated servant of both clubs, has faded from popular memory but should fans of Chelsea in particular ever find themselves at Hyde Park Corner, I would urge them to look over the road at the Lanesborough and spare a thought for the man the Derby Daily Telegraph, one of the many regional papers to cover the game comprehensively back then, called “as popular a player as ever donned the jersey of the London club.”
3. Alex Stepney
Alex Stepney was an instant success at Manchester United after joining them from Chelsea in October 1966, winning the league title in his first season and was instrumental, with two outstanding, lightning-quick-reaction, late saves from Eusebio to take them through to extra time, in winning the European Cup at Wembley in 1968.
Halfway through their relegation season of 1973-74, the Mitcham-born, former Millwall goalkeeper was the club’s joint top-scorer with two when a crisis of confidence among outfield players inspired him to volunteer to take the penalties. United struggled for six years following Stepney’s golden start, but he was blameless in their decline and he played a vital role in their promotion campaign, leaving after 11 years of service with an FA Cup winners’ medal in 1977 to demonstrate the glamour that never left them was refreshed by genuinely competitive spirit and success.
It must have been pleasing for Stepney that Tommy Docherty, the manager who sold him from Chelsea after only four months at Stamford Bridge, was the same man who came to rely on his experience, authority and instinctive, shot-stopping excellence to help United’s revival.
But in truth Docherty was in a fix when he allowed the transfer to go through. He had paid a world record fee for a goalkeeper to take Stepney from Millwall to Chelsea for £50,000 in late May as he thought Peter Bonetti, who was away with the England 1966 World Cup squad all summer, was joining West Ham. But the deal fell through following the death of the Chelsea chairman Joe Mears because his successor, Charles Pratt, would not sanction Bonetti’s transfer even though the goalkeeper wanted to leave.
Docherty tried to compromise by saying he would rotate the two but could not really afford to have two prize assets when he needed money to strengthen his midfield. Two days after Stepney’s sole start, a clean sheet at the Dell, Chelsea accepted a 10 per cent profit on their investment and sold him on to United. In the space of 16 weeks, he broke the world transfer record for his position twice.
While Matt Busby spoke to Docherty in a separate room at the White House Hotel in Euston, Stepney was wooed by his assistant, the passionate, United evangelist Jimmy Murphy.
“Jimmy was telling me about United and talked about [Denis] Law, [Bobby] Charlton, [George] Best and [Paddy] Crerand,” Stepney told manutd.com. “Sometimes it just happens and you’re in the right place at the right time."
4. Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes was only 31 when Manchester United sold him for the second time and he, alongside other departees in the summer of 1995, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis, became the three sticks press and pundits used to beat the dictum “you can’t win anything with kids” into Alex Ferguson’s head.
Hughes was an impressively powerful and resourceful striker but never a prolific scorer after the ‘route of the three Bs’ he used for the title of his first autobiography – Barca, Bayern and Back – though typically, when it mattered, he had his best season for seven years during the 1992-93 title-winning campaign.
In Ferguson’s autobiography he maintains that the Hughes sale was not of his design. There was a mix-up over the player’s pension arrangements which meant a contract extension had not been signed when Chelsea persuaded him to move to London. Ferguson said Hughes may have been worried by the purchase of Andy Cole but “I would have preferred the Welshman to stay”.
After two titles, three FA Cups, a League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and two PFA Player of the Year Awards, Hughes headed to Stamford Bridge for a fee of £650,000 where he played a key role in Chelsea’s renaissance, first under Glenn Hoddle and then Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli. At first he formed a decent partnership with John Spencer and then a sensational one with Gianfranco Zola which helped Chelsea to their first proper trophy for 26 years, the FA Cup in 1997.
A proper measure of his impact at Chelsea came in the second half of their fourth-round FA Cup tie against Liverpool in 1997. Coming off the bench at 2-0 down, his strength and running transformed the game, bulling Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Mark Wright to such an extent that Chelsea were level 13 minutes after his introduction and 4-2 up 18 minutes later.
The next year he doubled his collection of League and Cup Winners’ Cups and left for Southampton at the age of 34 in the summer of 1998. In 2002 he won a third League Cup at 38 with Blackburn, playing in midfield, and by then was already three years into his management career with Wales.
Off the field he remained diffident, but few characters in the modern game have been so transformed by battle fever. He scored spectacular goals, terrorised defenders with his aggression and went over the top when the boots were flying. His combination of raw force and breath-taking panache made him at his peak the ultimate bogeyman for top-flight central defenders. As a manager Hughes may conquer his essential character most of the time, but rile him and you still see the warrior within.
5. Juan Mata
A member of Spain’s 2010 World Cup-winning squad, Juan Mata signed for Chelsea from Valencia in 2011 at the age of 23 for a fee of £23.5m. In two full seasons at Stamford Bridge he played a key role in winning the FA Cup, Champions and Europa Leagues and was elected the club’s player of the year in 2012 and 2013.
At Chelsea he thrived in the No10 role but his work-rate and defensive discipline were criticised by Jose Mourinho shortly after his return to the Stamford Bridge dugout in 2013 and as autumn turned to winter Mata began to be left out as his manager opted for the trio of Oscar, Willian and Eden Hazard to slot in behind a lone striker.
In January 2014, David Moyes, who had been ridiculed for failing to sign anyone other than Marouane Fellaini during his first transfer window at Old Trafford, bought Mata for £37.1m, hoping to refresh an ageing side and stem the tide of defeats with the attacking midfielder’s imagination and brio.
His prompting certainly brightened United’s attack but instead of becoming their David Silva, too often he has been stuck out on the right wing by Moyes’ successors, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho, who have never seemed wholly convinced that his undoubted qualities trump his physical shortcomings. Nonetheless, he has helped them win the FA Cup and League Cup even if he doesn’t seem to be as loved at United as he once was by Chelsea.
Yet his survival, class and determination to demonstrate his effectiveness continue to prove how right Danny Blanchflower was all those years ago when someone demeaned Glenn Hoddle with the traditionally loaded epithet. “A luxury player? No, it’s the bad players who are the luxury.”
6. Mal Donaghy
It is often forgotten that in 1987-88, Alex Ferguson’s first full season in charge at Old Trafford, Manchester United finished runners-up behind Liverpool’s thrillingly revamped Barnes-Beardsley-Aldridge inspired title-winners. In the following pre-season he tried to bridge the gap by signing Paul Gascoigne who, at the 11th hour, chose Spurs instead and Fergsuon had to content himself by bringing Mark Hughes back from Barcelona, buying Jim Leighton and Steve Bruce and, in October, the veteran Northern Ireland defender Mal Donaghy from Luton Town for £650,000.
Signing a 31-year-old was greeted with some derision but Donaghy was precisely what United needed, an unflappable, experienced, reliable model professional who swiftly settled in at left-back or alongside Bruce in a centre-back partnership. This most underwhelming of purchases was only a first-team regular for a season, until Ferguson went on another spree and bought Gary Pallister to form the querulous ‘Dolly and Daisy’ duo at the heart of their subsequent first three Premier League-winning campaigns but he was the first-choice defensive back-up for the next two seasons. “Mal has been a tremendous player for us,” wrote Fergsuon in 1992, “coming in and out of the team with never a complaint. He got us out of a big hole.”
Donaghy left for Chelsea in 1992, with still a year of his United contract left that would have taken him beyond his 35th birthday, and spent two years at the Bridge, an unhappy one under Ian Porterfield and David Webb in which he was a regular and a better one under Glenn Hoddle when he played in a three-man defence. Chelsea made the Cup final that year where they were defeated by the Double-winning Manchester United but Donaghy did not make the XIV and retired after 78 appearances for his third and final English club.
David Pleat, who bought him for Luton and managed him for eight years, extolled his virtues in the Guardian in a piece that emphasises why his signing may have baffled and disappointed fans but was treasured by the shrewdest of managers: “Mal was quietly efficient and rarely, if ever, made a mistake,” Pleat said. “He was a terrific recovery tackler and never tried anything clever on the ball. He was such a natural footballer. He'd appear to stroll through games, as if he was playing at 80% and well within himself, but was a class act to watch.”
And half a dozen of the other … flop transfers between United and Chelsea
1. Mark Bosnich
Sir Alex Ferguson always regretted losing Mark Bosnich over work permit issues after signing him as a 17-year-old in 1989, but when he decided to bring him back to Manchester United in 1999 on a free transfer, to keep goal for the Treble winners after the departure of Peter Schmeichel, the qualms were almost immediately more plentiful and alarming.
Bosnich had grown in years during seven seasons at Aston Villa but had not matured. In the summer of 1999 he had to be bailed out of custody when he was arrested on the morning of his second wedding and charged with assaulting a photographer outside a strip club at 4am. If the off-field problems gave Ferguson the jitters, on the training field he was quickly troubled by the goalkeeper’s attitude, fitness and erratic kicking in matches.
In his last autobiography, Ferguson said Bosnich, a “terrible professional”, reported back from his honeymoon late for training and overweight and then, after United had drilled him to lose the excess timber: “We played down at Wimbledon and Bosnich was tucking into everything: sandwiches, soups, steaks. He was going through the menu. I told him, 'For Christ's sake, Mark, we've got the weight off you. Why are you tucking into all that stuff?'
"We arrived back in Manchester, and Mark was on mobile phone to a Chinese restaurant to order a takeaway. Is there no end to you? I just couldn't make an impact on him."
The manager was so panicked by Bosnich that he was spooked into buying Massimo Taibi, with farcical consequences, and had to restore the Australian who made 23 appearances in the title-winning campaign and picked up another medal for winning the World Club Championship. But Ferguson had stomached enough, bought Fabien Barthez in the summer and relegated Bosnich to third-choice when he refused to leave for Celtic on loan.
He made no appearances in 2000-01 for either United or Chelsea, the club he joined on a free transfer in January 2001 on a three and a half year contract worth £55,000 a week. He played five times in 2001-02 as understudy to Carlo Cudicini after finally getting back into shape but Chelsea tired of his presence and tried to sell him. Yet again he refused to go. In Novemeber 2002 he tested positive for cocaine and was suspended for nine months despite his defence that his drink had been spiked. Chelsea terminated his contract in Jan 2003 while Bosnich maintained his innocence but the following year he admitted he had a £2,500 a week habit that he insisted only started after he was banned. He made a brief A-League comeback in 2008 and retired the following year, having made just 13 appearances after his 29th birthday in 2001.
2. Radamel Falcao
Not a direct transfer as such but Radamel Falcao, El Tigre, even though both Manchester United and Chelsea fans will have written him off as toothless and clawless until his heartening resurgence with Monaco this season, did not play for his parent club between the two dispiriting loan spells in England.
Joining United on summer deadline day 2014 for a loan fee of £6m and an agreement to pay £43.5m for his long-term service at the season’s end should he impress, Falcao scored his first goal in the 2-1 victory over Everton in October but was soon injured. When he returned to a misfiring side alongside Robin van Persie, in stark decline, and Angel Di Maria, confused and alarmingly out of sorts, he looked equally as fragile physically and psychologically. The old sharpness was occasionally evident but United could ill-afford a slot for a goal-raker when the legs of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney were already betraying signs of weariness and the deal was terminated in May 2015 after four goals in 14 starts and 12 appearances as a largely impact-free sub.
Falcao turning up at champions Chelsea for the start of the 2015-16 season seemed illogical at the time. Yes, Didier Drogba had moved on again and they needed a forward but the identity of Falcao’s agent, Jorge Mendes, was surely decisive. Watching Falcao, ever willing but off the pace, toil in a Chelsea shirt was heartbreaking for anyone who had been mesmerised and intimidated by his lethal power and predatory speed for Atletico Madrid and when he returned to Monaco, for utter lack of other options, after one goal in two starts and nine substitute appearances during 10 months in London, must have been hoping for a merciful retirement.
In a rare happy ending, though, Falcao confounded us all and has resurrected his knee and career in thrilling style as captain of Monaco. Still, for United and Chelsea he was money down the drain.
3. Graham Moore
In 1959, 18-year-old Cardiff City forward Graham Moore became the first footballer to be named the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year and a year later he scored the goal against Aston Villa that earned the Bluebirds promotion to the top flight after three seasons in Division Two.
Chelsea made him their record signing for £35,000 in December 1961 and only five years after he had been working the coal face at Penallta Colliery he was filling the royal blue No8 shirt of Jimmy Greaves, who had left for AC Milan, at Stamford Bridge in Tommy Docherty’s embryonic ‘Diamonds’.
He scored on his debut and stayed for two years, proving an excellent foil for Bobby Tambling even if they failed to prevent relegation at the end of his first season. But his contribution to the 1962-63 promotion campaign was vital yet his discomfort in playing a central striking role, in curtailing his instinct to drop to hunt the ball, persuaded Docherty to accept Manchester United’s £35,000 money-back bid in November 1963. Docherty wanted a goalscorer, Matt Busby someone to make them for Denis Law. “He is the ideal link man,” said the Manchester United manager on announcing the signing.
Busby had made a mistake that August in selling John Giles to Leeds United and bought Moore to play at inside-right with David Herd at centre-forward and Law at inside-left, hoping to keep Bobby Charlton out on the left wing. Moore scored four goals in his first season and then injury and Busby’s reluctance to change a winning side kept him out of the first team for 18 months because the talent of a certain George Best had demanded a regular place in the side from Christmas 1964 and Charlton took over Moore’s role to accommodate him.
The Wales international spent almost a year in the reserves until December 1965 when Northampton Town, enjoying or rather enduring their sole top-flight season made a successful bid of £13,000 to take him to the County Ground. Once again he was unable to prevent relegation in a debut season, not that Pele himself would have for the Cobblers in 1965, but he did score for Town on his return to Old Trafford in Feb 1966, though they lost 6-2.
Moore was by no means a flop, simply unfortunate to be struck by injury precisely when Best’s emergence and Charlton’s imperishable brilliance gave him no hope of usurping them.
4. Tommy Baldwin
Tommy Baldwin joined Chelsea from Arsenal in 1966 as the makeweight in the deal to take George Graham to Highbury and, coincidentally, both men remain the only two to have played for Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Baldwin, a versatile attacking player, scored 91 goals in 239 appearances for the team who, back then, were still likely to be called ‘The Pensioners’ at second mention in the red tops.
He won the FA Cup in 1970 playing on the right wing and started the Cup winners Cup final replay victory over Real Madrid the next year playing up front with Peter Osgood. The Gateshead-born Baldwin took the No9 role on occasion himself when Osgood was injured, suspended or feuding with Dave Sexton but in his seventh year at the club began to suffer a spate of injuries, most severely an Achilles tendon problem that kept him out for nine months.
He returned to the first team in October 1974, 10 days after Sexton had been sacked but could not convince Ron Suart that he was worth a regular place during the dispiriting relegation battle. His old manager, Tommy Docherty, felt he could still do a job and took him on loan at Manchester United when Stuart Pearson, ‘Pancho MkII’, had been injured in January 1975 and the Division Two leaders urgently needed a centre-forward.
Baldwin wore the No9 shirt for the trip to play second-placed Sunderland at Roker Park and played an unusual lone striker role in Dochertys quest for a clean sheet, “never getting to grips with United’s passing style” according to The Guardian. His manager punched the air to celebrate the scoreless draw but the following week United were beaten 1-0 by Bristol City with Baldwin up front, their first home defeat of the season, and the clause “with a view to a permanent transfer” thereafter became a blind alley. Baldwin returned to Chelsea at the end of the month but never played for them again either and moved on to the NASL.
It didn’t work out for him at Old Trafford but he will always have a place in the hearts of any surviving Shed Heads from 1966-74. Indeed, if you whistle the opening bars of McNamara’s Band, they will not be able to resist joining in with:
His name is Tommy Baldwin,
He’s the leader of the team,
The finest football team, the world has ever seen,
We’re the Fulham Road supporters, louder than the Kop,
If anyone wants to argue,
We’ll kill the f------ lot.
5. Stan Crowther
Stan Crowther, an FA Cup winner with Aston Villa in 1957 after their victory over Manchester United in the final, moved to Old Trafford along with Blackpool’s Ernie Taylor as an emergency signing after the Munich Air Disaster to fortify a squad that had been physically and psychologically devastated. United paid £18,000 for a player who was registered only an hour before kick-off of United’s return to action, the fifth-round FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday and the announcement of his place in the side, in Duncan Edwards’ No6 shirt, brought an audible gasp from the Stretford End. Having already played for Villa in their Cup defence that season, he became the only player to receive official FA dispensation to play for two sides in the competition in a season.
The 22-year-old was more efficient than elegant, a raw-boned, hard tackling wing-half but was exactly what the club needed at that moment, a player with experience, tenacity and a fiercely competitive edge who would ensure no one would take advantage or pity on United’s grieving family. Sir Tom Finney recalled that he met Crowther the day he signed for Manchester United and found him to be unnerved both by the responsibility and, as someone who had lost both parents in his teens and had come to feel embraced by Villa, by the prospect of leaving home.
He played a key role for caretaker manager Jimmy Murphy in the remaining games of the season, in the semi-final defeat by AC Milan in the European Cup and especially on the return road to Wembley via replay victories in the quarter-final over West Brom and the semi-final over Fulham but not even his reputation and strength could dissuade Nat Lofthouse from barging goalkeeper Harry Gregg over the line in the final to win the Cup for Bolton.
When Matt Busby returned full-time as manager at the start of the 1958-59 season, he restored a fit-again Wilf McGuinness to the left-half role and within the space of a week in December sold Taylor to Sunderland and Crowther, for a loss of £8,000, to Chelsea who were desperately short of experienced players.
He made his debut for Chelsea in their home defeat by Manchester United three days after moving south, and played 51 games over 18 months, impressing with his tough tackling but unable wholly to mask the flaws in Chelsea’s promising but callow side. He joined Brighton where, after falling out with the manager George Curtis, he retired from the professional game at the age of 26, saying subsequently that “football and Stan Crowther didn’t get on. Some of the things I saw going on would break your heart”.
6. Juan Sebastián Verón
A flop? Over to Sir Alex Ferguson: “I'm no' f------ talking to you. Verón's a great f------ player. Youse are all f------- idiots.”
Juan Sebastián Verón was an outstanding, deep-lying playmaker who combined the ability to dribble forward gracefully, pick a pass, dictate the rhythm and tempo of play, wallop in shots with the steely tackling and occasional brutality of every great Argentinian midfielder.
Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2001 for £28.1m from Lazio, Verón was supposed to be the transformative figure in the Carlos Queiroz-engineered quest for a second Champions League. But one signing alone could not change United’s style and off-the-cuff attacking verve and though he was sometimes very good, particularly in Europe, and won the title in 2003, Ferguson would not reshape the team around a player who kept suffering niggling injuries and did not suit their Premier League tactics .
His manager, claiming that he found all Argentinians difficult to manage and concerned that Verón would not apply himself to learn English, sold the midfielder to Chelsea for a £13m loss in the summer of 2003 when Claudio Ranieri’s Roman Abramovich-funded trolley dash was in full swing.
Verón suffered further injuries at Chelsea and his family were the victims of a brutal burglary in January 2004 when a machete-wielding thug broke into their south-west London home and threatened to kill his sleeping two-year-old son, three-year-old daughter and wife if Verón did not hand over all the family's valuables.
Wayne Harley, a perpetual violent criminal with 66 prior convictions, was jailed for life for the attack the following October and one cannot blame the midfielder for seeking the sanctuary of a return to Serie A with Inter for two years on loan after only 14 appearances for Chelsea. He saw out the last year of his contract on loan at his beloved Estudiantes, then played seven more seasons.
Incidentally, that 'was an outstanding midfielder' where we came in may have to revert to 'is an outstanding midfielder' because has just come out of two years’ retirement to sign an 18-month contract with them at the age of 41