|I normally do these in chronological order but there is one name that will instantly jump out at you from list so I need to start there. Zinedine Zidane.
Now before you double check this is the post for you to vote for your best left-back in the game, no, I haven't just been on the receiving end of a Zizou butt and feeling a little dazed and confused! Believe it or not, back in Championship Manager 95/96 you could capture the promising young Zidane from Bordeaux and bag yourself a fairly decent left-back!
I wrestled with this one about whether to include Zidane or not seeing as the criteria I set for these votes is that it should be players who never quite lived up to the expectation Champ Man put on their shoulders, but in this case I had to let it slide. After all, isn't this part of the beauty of the game? Sports Interactive and their network of scouts do a fine job identifying hundreds of hot prospects within the footballing world, but as often as they've got it wrong about a player who doesn't achieve global superstardom, this is just another wonderful example of how an incorrect stat in the game becomes a part of FM folklore.
Heck, I can even remember a 15-year-old Wayne Rooney being in the Everton U18s team in one of the versions as a AMR and he was crap! Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe that got that one right...
So Zidane stays in, but remember if you do vote for him, you are voting on Zidane the left-back you bought back in 1995, not the Zidane who went on to become one of the best attacking midfielders of all time!
Okay, so now we're back on track so lets go back a couple of seasons to CM93. There were two stand-out players for me. Liverpool's Steve Harkness and the hugely attack-minded Neil Lewis from Leicester City. Harkness was part of that Liverpool production line of youth players alongside the likes of Mike Marsh, Don Hutchinson, Rob Jones, Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler. On Championship Manager, they were an awesome team, but at first glance it is easy to separate the ones who made it, and the ones who didn't. Harkness was one of the ones who didn't. Despite making over a 100 appearances for the Reds and a brief spell with Benfica, he finished out his playing days with Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Chester City.
Lewis is a bit of a strange case. He was certainly seen as one for the future whilst he was at Filbert Street, but after 5 years he moved on to Peterborough for a season but then seems to disappear off the radar in terms of his playing stats. After a three season absence, he turns back up again in 2001/02 playing for Ibstock United but that was for just one season. Trying to get to the bottom of this I did a bit of research and came across a Leicester City fans forum where some of the Foxes fans allege that he might have done some time in prison, but how true that is I don't know. Shame, because on the game he was amazing.
Fast-forward past Zidane and on to Championship Manager 4 and on to the man they call Jay McEverly, because, well, that's his name! McEverly could be bought from Blackburn Rovers and you'd have on your hands the next England left-back. But in reality the 29-year-old has not been able to find a place to call home yet, playing for a total of nine clubs in 12 seasons including the likes of Gillingham, Barsnley and now Swindon Town.
Mikael Dorsin is a player I remember very well as I'd always sign him on my Championship Manager 00/01 game. He was a great utility man to have, capable of playing anywhere across the back four and in the DMC role. You could get him from the easily pronounceable Djurgårdens IF for around £500k if memory serves me correctly, safe in the knowledge that you had found yet another Scandinavian nugget of gold.
There is a trio of players to choose from the legendary CM 01/02 version, namely Isaac Okoronkwo, Gareth Jellyman and Wilfred Bouma.Nigeria international Okoronkwo was able to operate at centre-back or left-back and was another of those amazing Shakhtar Donetsk players who frequently pop up throughout all versions of the game. Jellyman was one of the famous three Peterborough players alongside Matthew Etherington and Simon Davies that you would always have to buy. Even though it's fair to say none of the three ever achieved their CM God-like statuses in the real world, Jellyman was the least successful of the trio and went on to play for likes of Mansfield Town and Boston United., while Etherington and Davies enjoyed Premier League careers.
Bouma was the one I always tried to get. The Dutch international has had a decent career, starting and now playing back at PSV Eindhoven. But it was his move to Aston Villa in 2005 that would have had most Football Manager fans wondering if he was as good as we'd been led to believe. The answer is probably no, but he'll always have a place in our hearts.
Razvan Rat is up next. A name I like saying mainly because is sounds like Roland Rat and I have a pretty childish sense of humour. The CM 03/04 star had a sweet left foot and would guarantee you a few assists and goals from set-pieces. But when he joined West Ham (from Shakhtar Donetsk of course!) in 2013 we sadly got our confirmation that he wasn't the player we thought he was. One because he didn't play that well, and two because he'd ended up at West Ham! In the same version where Rat first starred, there was a player called Mike Zonneveld who was a bit tasty as well and you'd manage to get for around the £2m mark from NEC. But let's be fair, Mike Zonneveld doesn't even sound like a footballer. He sounds like some sort of Marvel superhero. It was never going to work out.
My personal favourite is up next in he shape of one Joe Mattock. Oh Joe, why are you not tearing up that left flank for England like Football Manager 2008 promised? Luke Shaw is basically the player Joe Mattock should have been, but instead of a multi-million pound move to Old Trafford this summer, Mattock will be a Sheffield Wednesday player after not cutting the mustard at West Brom. If you could fight off the competition at the start of FM08, you could sign Mattock from Leicester City for the bargain price of around £2m.
Two South American players from Football Manager 2009 feature next. Argentinean Fabian Monzon was available from Boca Juniors and Peru left-back Juan Manuel Vargas was at Fiorentina. Arguably both could still live up to their FM top billing but at the time of writing Monzon is at Catania and Vargas was shipped out on loan to Genoa last season.
Last up is one half of the Brazilian twin brothers Rafael and Fabio. To be honest both could have made the cut. When you look at how bad Brazil's defending was this year at the World Cup, these two must be pretty bad to not get in to that squad, but at least Rafael is still at Manchester United. Fabio on the other hand is now at Cardiff City in the Championship. It should have been all so different of course and even as late as Football Manager 2012, Fabio was still turning into a world beater.
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