How failed Liverpool move impacted on career of Championship Manager legend Cherno Samba

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How failed Liverpool move impacted on career of Championship Manager legend Cherno Samba

Championship Manager legend Cherno Samba has lifted the lid on how his career fell apart after a failed move to Liverpool in 2000.

An explosive striker, with pace, skills and finishing ability, Samba was once touted as the next big thing in English football.

He represented his country from U-16 to U-20 level, playing a year up in age each season, and was even tipped to help England win the 2006 World Cup.

Then at Millwall, the England youth international was one of the most highly-sought after players in the country at the turn of the century having comfortably broken Michael Owen's schoolboy goalscoring record with 132 goals in 32 games at the age of just 13.

At 14, he was keeping a certain Wayne Rooney out of the England U-16 and the future looked bright.

A promising youth career led to interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world, most notably Liverpool who tabled a £2 million bid in attempt to land his signature in a deal that would have made him the most expensive schoolboy in the country.

But his excitement eventually turned to agony when the two clubs failed to agree a deal.

Samba would eventually embark on a journeyman playing career that included Spanish side Cádiz, Plymouth Argyle, Finish side Haka, Penetolikos in Greece and FK Tønsberg in Norway.

He retired when just 29-years old in 2015 having never fulfilled the promise and expectation placed on his shoulders from such a young age.

Speaking to Planet Football in 2019, Samba said:

The fact that the deal didn't go through really broke me down. It had a massive impact for the rest of my career. I didn't play football after that for six months. I just didn't want to do anything to do with football anymore.

But then I had my mum and dad, and my friends and family, who said, "Look, this is your God-given talent. Just go back." But the damage was already done. I had lost my appetite for the game.

Whilst his real life career never reached the heights expected, Samba did flourish within the virtual world of Championship Manager 01/02.

Samba was a fan favourite because he was relatively cheap at the start but would consistently blossom into a world class striker within a few seasons.

My stats were very good, put it that way. A lot of people ask me if I think it affected my football. I can say yes and no.

When I was playing I used to check my stats and I felt like I had to deliver every time. My opponents used to tease me about it as well.

On that alone, it had a little bit of an impact on me, but if you want to get to the top then nothing should distract you. Nothing whatsoever.

It's something that I embraced and accepted. I'll be 101, with a walking stick, and people will still come to me and talk about Championship Manager. I'll take that all day.

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