How The Mighty Have Fallen - 10 Legends Who Slummed It In The Lower Leagues


In one of the strangest transfer coups of recent times, former Holland and Barcelona star Edgar Davids has signed for League Two Barnet, bringing his considerable reputation - and Matrix-style shades - to little old Underhill.

As if his disastrous spell at Crystal Palace in 2010 wasn't bad enough, the Dutchman has joined up with the struggling Bees in an attempt to save them from the drop.

But he's not the first star to slum it in the murky waters of the English lower leagues. Here are 10 others from history...


10. Socrates

Incredibly, former Brazil star - and qualified doctor, no less - signed a one-month deal at Garforth Town of the Northern Counties East Football League in 2004.

He didn't want any money and made just a 12 minute cameo off the bench, but according to bystanders he still had a glue-like touch to wow the crowds. 

Garforth went on to be promoted that season and the chairman claimed Socrates' efforts were key to that. Must have been some cameo!

9. Alan Simonsen

 

The much-heralded Danish international took the surprise decision to move from Spanish heavyweights Barcelona to English Division Two Charlton in 1982.

He claimed it was a result of Barca signing Diego Maradona, and turned down offers from Real Madrid and Tottenham because he wanted a club with "little pressure".

It didn't work out though as the Addicks struggled to pay the £300,000 fee and after three months (and nine goals in 16 games) he left for his hometown club Vejle BK.

8. Paul Gascoigne

Gazza has had his fair share of lower league moves. He left Rangers for Division One Middlesbrough in 1998, helping them to promotion.

He then moved from Everton to Burnley in 2002 and took the Clarets to the brink of a play-off spot.

But most remarkably, in 2004 he became player-manager of Conference side Boston Town. However, he left after just five appearances, because the club refused to grant him leave to take part in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.


7. Sol Campbell

In one of modern football's bizzarest moves, former England and Arsenal star Sol Campbell penned a deal at League Two side Notts County in 2009.

County had been taken over by a middle eastern consortium, and appointed former Three Lions boss Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football, but things weren't as rosy a they seemed.

Campbell's one and only game came in a 2-1 defeat to Morcombe, and he walked out on the club the very next day.

The consortium then turned out to be con men and County fell into administration. Oops.

6. Robert Prosinecki

The former Real Madrid star signed for Division One side Portsmouth in the summer of 2001 on a one-year deal.

The Croatian playmaker pretty much saved the club from relegation single handedly and was a revelation in the centre of the park.

He was voted into an all-time XI by Pompey readers, despite playing for just one year, and later convinced Nico Kranjcar to join the south coast club in 2006.

5. George Best

The king of lower league moves was one George Best, who played for no less than 18 'smaller' teams after leaving Manchester United.

Arguably his most successful - certainly his most enjoyable, according to the Northern Ireland star - was a stint at Division Two Fulham in 1976.

But he also played for Jewish Guild,  Dunstable Town, Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Los Angeles Aztecs , Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Hibernian, San Jose Earthquakes , Sea Bee, Hong Kong Rangers, Bournemouth, Brisbane Lions, Osborne Park Galeb, Nuneaton Borough and Tobermore United before hanging up his boots. Phew!

4. Jimmy Greaves

The former Spurs and England man took the plunge in non-league in 1975, aged 35, with Brentwood Town.

This just five years after leaving Tottenham where he scored 269 goals in 381 games and his performances earned him a dream (?) move to Chelmsford City and then Barnet.

He was Barnet's player of the season in 1978 after scoring 25 goals from midfield. Go Jimmy!

3. Peter Shilton

England's most capped ever footballer was desperate to reach 1,000 league games towards the end of his career, so at 47 signed for Leyton Orient in the Third Division in 1996.

He'd already had spells at Plymouth and Bolton as his career started to dwindle, but was keen to reach that thousand-game milestone.

And that he did on 22 December, 1996, in a game against Brighton that was televised and saw him handed a commemorative award afterwards.

It made him one of the oldest players to play in the football league.

2. Tommy Lawton

Another bizarre one here. England international and all-round war-time superstar Tommy Lawton was at the peak of his powers in 1947, having scored 30 in 42 games for Chelsea, as well as 65 in 87 games for Everton.

But he shocked the football world with a move to Third Division Notts County for a record transfer fee of £20,000, possibly attracted by manager Arthur Stollery, who had formerly been physiotherapist at Chelsea.

At County, he immediately became a cult hero, scoring 103 goals in 166 appearances for the club over five seasons and helping them win promotion to Division Two in 1950.

1. Chris Sutton

If anyone in football is aware of the crushing disappointment of things not working out, it's Chris Sutton.

A heart-breakingly bad spell at Cheslea after a £10m move almost ruined him, but a great spell at Celtic revived his career.

And after going into management at Lincoln, Sutton surprisingly came back to playing when he turned out for non-league Wroxham this year.

He linked up alongside his 16-year-old goalkeeper son Oliver. How nice.