1 Tomas Brolin
In Euro 92, England fell to a superb goal from a hugely promising young Swedish striker. Eight years on, the scorer, now a vacuum-cleaner salesman based in Stockholm, could only reflect on a career which went grindingly wrong. Tomas Brolin at his peak was graceful, skillful and captivating. Past it, he was one of the most limited players in world football. The decline set in soon after Euro 92, but apparently went unnoticed by then Leeds boss George Graham, who paid Parma £4.5m for him in 1995. When Brolin arrived looking like Keith Chegwin's tubby twin, Graham was panic-stricken. Brolin made just 19 appearances in two years before his career collapsed amidst a series of training ground walk-outs and dietary rumours. Leeds paid out the remainder of his contract. He returned to England for a final Premiership fling at Crystal Palace in 1998, but, after 13 appearances, was deemed too fat to play, and made assistant manager to Attilio Lombardo when Steve Coppell was moved aside. Palace were instantly relegated - Brolin hasn't been seen in this country since.
2 Ali Dia
The Jeffrey Archer of Premiership imports arrived at Southampton in 1996 after convincing then-manager Graeme Souness that he was a top quality 30-year-old Senegalese striker with 13 international caps, carrying a recommendation from former Paris St Germain teammate George Weah. Plainly, he wasn't - but Souness's curiosity got the better of him. Dia was signed and brought on as a substitute against Leeds. After a superbly inept 53 minutes he was brought off again, and, 14 days after agreeing it, his contract was cancelled. 'I don't feel I have been duped in the slightest,' explained Souness afterwards. 'That's just the way the world is these days.' From Southampton, the japester joined non-league Gateshead, where he was transfer-listed in February 1997. He hasn't been heard of since.
3 Andrea Silenzi
Signed for £1.8m by Frank Clark for Nottingham Forest in 1995, 6'3" Silenzi took just seven full appearances to prove his worth. One of the first 'big name' Italian imports, Silenzi, known as 'the Big Brush', was a picture of disinterest. Earning a then-enormous £30,000 a month, his laid-back control, finishing and approach play soon had management and supporters worried. His only excess was in the length of his first touch. It took just weeks for the deal to look suspect, a month for it to look plain wrong and another to collapse. Half way through his first season, he had lost his place to Jason Lee, was loaned to Venezia, and when told to return by Dave Bassett, refused. Forest tore up his contract - meaning the whole deal, including wages and bonuses, had cost the club £2.75m. He scored twice - one against Oxford in the FA Cup and the other against Bradford in the Coca Cola cup. 'The whole business turned into a complete fiasco,' said Bassett.
4 Michele Padovano
Former Crystal Palace chairman Mark Goldberg, author of the club's recent near-death experience, signed Padovano from Juventus reserves in November 1997 for £1.7m in a typically ill-considered move. Handing the Italian an enormous contract in the hope that gratitude alone would spur him to score the goals to beat relegation, Goldberg touted his newest expensive arrival as the answer to Palace's prayers. In the event, the long-haired, out-of-condition forward scored once, appeared twelve times, and came to embody the club's failings. Utterly disinterested, Padovano never played more than two games in a row, and, after his twelfth appearance, settled contentedly into reserve team football, before leaving on a free to join Metz. He made a brief return visit earlier this year once the club had fallen into the hands of administrators to claim a reported £1m in unpaid wages.
5 Marco Boogers
Harry Redknapp wasn't always the streetwise London gaffer he is today. The arrival of 'Mad' Marco Boogers for £1m from Sparta Rotterdam in July 1995 was just one of a number of misjudged West Ham imports. Coming on as a substitute against Manchester United in only his second appearance for the club, Boogers was almost immediately red carded for 'a sickening horror tackle' (The Sun) on Gary Neville. He promptly disappeared, discovered several weeks later hiding in a mobile home in a Dutch caravan park. The Boogers debacle, which ended in a loan deal and subsequent free transfer to Groningen despite his protestations - 'I'm not mental' - was the worst of a dreadful Redknapp collection: Florin Raducioiu arrived for £2.4m in July 96 and was sold at a £600,000 loss six months later after missing training for a Harvey Nichols shopping trip; Portuguese supermodel Dani lasted five months before being thrown out for excessive nightclubbing; and £2m star Javier Margas went missing in February last year, turning up later at home in Chile. He, unlike Boogers, did come back.
6 Brian Pinas
A member of a select group of players capable of inspiring an entry in The Sun Says by the power of their name alone - Stefan Kuntz, Celta Vigo's Turdo and Sparta Prague's Milan Fukal wait their turn - Dutch winger Pinas survived 12 months in Newcastle's reserves before returning, broken, to Feyenoord. Greeted on his arrival in August 1998 by the Sun's editorial ('Pity soccer star Brian Pinas. The first time a referee takes his name he'll get sent off for using foul language'), the winger made one substitute appearance in a pre-season friendly against Birmingham before disappearing for good into reserve team football. He was sold back to Feyenoord in 1999, Newcastle making £200,000 from the deal. However, confidence shattered by a year's worth of jokes, he failed to settle, and was quickly sold on to feeder club Excelsior in the Dutch second division.
7 Marco Negri
Every week, Marco Negri, Rangers long-serving reserve team striker, earns an estimated £18,000. As, at the start of this season, he hadn't kicked a ball for Rangers in 26 months, with the exception of a brief substitute appearance against Morton in the Scottish Cup, that's almost £2m banked for no return. He arrived from Perugia for £3.5m in June 1997 under Walter Smith, scoring a phenomenal 23 goals in ten games - the best strike rate in Europe. But the warning signs were already there: Negri refused to celebrate his goals with more than a handshake, and managed to look aloof even while hitting the back of the net. He socialised only with full-back Sergio Porrini, with whom he played squash. During one of their matches, Negri was hit in the eye, and was out injured for weeks; once he recovered, his first team appearances were few and far between. Last month, now under Dick Advocaat, he played in the Rangers youth team that lost a pre-season friendly to East Fife. But with another £18,000 in the bank, he's not complaining.
8 Alberto TarantiniKnown chiefly for his haircut and temper, Alberto Tarantini was by far the least successful of England's 1970's Argentinian imports. Skilful on the ball but with no positional sense or discipline, his year at Birmingham City was fiercely unhappy - particularly given his pedigree as a World Cup winner. Whereas Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa made a positive mark at Spurs, Tarantini came and went in 23 games, with little or no footballing consequence. His career in England anded in 1987 after he waded into a home crowd for a punch up - a little publicised precursor to Eric Cantona's efforts at Selhurst Park 17 years later. At £295,000 from Boca Juniors, he was one of the first great foreign flops.
9 Stephane Guivarc'h
Stephane Guivarc'h features strongly among a convincing list of Newcastle contenders. Signed by Kenny Dalglish for £3.5m in 1998 and instantly belittled by successor Ruud Gullit, the French World Cup winner moved on to Rangers for another brief, miserable spell. He returned to Auxerre for £3.5m last summer, having collected substantial signing-on fees due to him from both clubs. 'I knew I could leave Rangers via an escape clause,' he said. 'I made sure of that after my experience at Newcastle.' Today, Guivarc'h is notable only for the interesting apostrophe between the c and h in his surname - the relic of Breton, a language once spoken by half-a-million Celts, and meaning 'swift stallion'.
10 Savo Milosevic
Yugoslavia's hero in Euro 2000 was a disaster at Aston Villa. Cleverly nicknamed 'Miss-a-lot-evic' by the tabloids, his finishing and approach play at Villa Park eventually left Brian Little, who signed him from Partizan Belgrade for £3.5m, unemployed. Villa fans failed to take to him despite 28 goals in 90 games, including the winner in the club's League Cup final victory over Leeds. The pressure became too much. After spitting flamboyantly at his own fans in Villa's 5-0 defeat to Blackburn he was put on the transfer list and sold to Real Zaragoza for £3.5m at the end of the season, where he recovered his form. Now he's off to Parma for £16m.
Taken from Guardian.