THE WANDERER: The mega-stars who got away from Bolton Wanderers' clutches

Brazil superstar Rivaldo was close to signing for Bolton Wanderers

Brazil superstar Rivaldo was close to signing for Bolton Wanderers

First published in Sport
Last updated

EVERY fisherman has a tale about the one that got away – and so does every football manager.

Wanderers’ history has been littered with names who ‘almost’ wore the famous white shirt, only for the deal to collapse at the last moment for one reason or another.

Sweden international Mikael Dyrestam joined the list on Friday when his move hit the skids over a compensation payment to his former club IFK Gothenburg.

Here, we look back at some of the nearly men who might have graced Burnden or the Reebok.

ALAN HANSEN Back when the Liverpool legend was but a bairn at Partick Thistle, Ian Greaves thought he had beaten a host of top clubs to the defender’s signature.

Unfortunately, Anfield proved a much bigger pull for the future Beeb pundit, and with three European Cups, eight league titles, three FA Cups and four League Cups during his time on Merseyside, it is quite hard to argue with his decision.

GEORGE BEST In 1981, towards the end of the Northern Irish legend’s career, Wanderers boss George Mullhall tried to tempt him back from America to play his football in Division Two at Burnden Park.

Best had been playing for the San Jose Earthquakes, interspersed with games in Scotland for Hibernian, but the deal fell through on personal terms and he continued to make guest appearances around the globe, with a spell in Hong Kong, before Don Megson – father of Gary – took him to Bournemouth.

DIETMAR HAMANN As legend has it, the German midfielder struggled to understand the accent of a Boltonian during a trip to McDonalds – and that helped him decide against a move to Wanderers, just 24 hours after signing a deal from Liverpool.

Recently, Phil Gartside admitted live on radio that the registration forms for Hamann’s move had not actually gone through to the Football Association by the time Manchester City offered £400,000 for his services, giving the Whites a quick profit on the midfielder.

CARSTEN JANCKER Sam Allardyce was convinced he had landed the burly German striker – who scored his country’s goal in the infamous 5-1 defeat against England in Munich, only for him to renege on a loan deal from Udinese.

“We had agreed a deal but when the player arrived with his agent he suddenly demanded an 18-month contract,” said Phil Gartside in February, 2004.

“We were very disappointed and the deal collapsed. That wasn’t part of the deal that had been agreed with his agent.”

DENILSON In 2009, the footballing world did a collective Scooby-Doo style second take when it emerged the Brazil winger – once the most expensive player on the planet – had been picked up by none other than Gary Megson at the Reebok.

Whether the ex-Real Betis man would fit into the belt and braces football that Wanderers were playing at the time was a matter of some debate but those who watched the Samba ace in training still talk about it to this day.

RIVALDO A move now the subject of much mirth among modern day Wanderers fans – the former World Footballer of the Year really WAS in advanced talks with the club about a deal in April 2004.

This was confirmed by Rivaldo himself after he had played against the Whites in a pre-season friendly for AEK Athens a few years later – although the report featured in The Bolton News at the time has also disappeared into the internet ether, adding to the mystery over perhaps the most famous deal-that-never-was.

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