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Bolton Wanderers: Top Five One Hit Wonders

They promised great things, but they failed to deliver.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

We're Bolton Wanderers supporters and disappointment is something we've had to become accustomed to over the years, however, some really do tend to sting more than others. As Bane so eloquently put "there can be no true despair without hope", and perhaps some of the biggest disappointments in supporting the Whites is when we were given that glimmer of hope, only for it to be cruelly snatched away.

This probably applies to lots of football matches the Wanderers have played in, too many to count, but it also very much relates to some players we've had over the years. Players who shone and really impressed on their debuts, but quickly faded back into obscurity and did very little else.

Here are my top five 'one hit wonders'.

5) Emile Heskey

I really begrudgenly place Heskey on this list, I genuinely didn't want to, but alas my previous entrant at #5 actually didn't qualify. Big Emile Heskey signed for Wanderers amongst mocking giggles from the rest of the footballing world, though he couldn't have proved them wrong with a much bigger statement. Literally minutes after coming on for his debut in a white shirt, against Blackburn Rovers, he stuck the ball in at the back post via a lovely ball from Eidur Gudjohnsen. I remember saying at that moment: "even if he never scores again, it's all been worth it for this moment."

He hasn't scored again, but I do stand by my comment. I still believe Heskey is a very good and extremely under-appreciated footballer. He just can't score to save his life, and oh my, he has missed some absolute sitters in his 24 appearances for Bolton.

4) Joe Riley

It came as quite a surprise when the relative unknown, Joe Riley, was drafted in for his first Premier League start when Stoke City came to the Reebok Stadium. Though in the space of 80 minutes or so he went from people saying 'who the hell's this?' to a rapturous standing ovation. He wasn't against a natural winger by any means, as Cameron Jerome would be his opponent for the match, but he marshalled him well and didn't give him a sniff of the ball. He put in a tireless performance on the right hand side of the pitch and was a big reason as to why we ran out 5-0 winners that day. Some idiots people were even going on the radio to suggest he could become England's right back.

However, he wasn't quite as good in his next outing. The Whites traveled to the Hawthorns to face West Brom, and this time Riley was up against a proper winger in Jerome Thomas. Thomas turned Riley inside and out all game, scored the opening goal and then had a hand to play in the winner too.

A succession of horrendous injuries then stunted Riley's development considerably and he never really got a chance to stake his claim for a first team spot again. Now he's playing for Bury, over his injury problems and, by all accounts, playing really well for the Shakers. So good on him.

3) Saidy Janko

It looked as if we'd found a real gem in Saidy Janko. The Swiss winger had joined on loan from Manchester United, with lots of promise of skill and blistering pace. He showed it in abundance on his debut against Fulham. It was his run on the right and subsequent cross that teed up Gudjohnsen for the equaliser just before half time. Then, on the 80th minute mark, when it looked as though the game was going to limp to a finish, he hit an absolute rocket of a shot from out of nowhere right into the top corner. He was quite easily our best player that day and he had us all excited.

Like all good things, however, it didn't last. Janko was very rarely selected by Neil Lennon again after that, and if he ever did get on the pitch it would usually be in the dying minutes at right back or right wing-back. Oh, and whenever he did get on the pitch he was disappointing.

Now he's up in Scotland, at Celtic, continuing to be not very good.

2) Tuncay

Ha ha ha! Remember Tuncay? What an absolute mad man. I remember actually being quite excited when we signed the Turk because I had a strange affection for him after his time at Middlesbrough and Stoke. My excitement appeared to be justified after his first appearance, even if it was against Macclesfield Town. Bolton had inexplicably found themselves a goal down, but Tuncay equalised when he spectacularly over-head volleyed a cross into the goal. He then went on to set up the winner with a delightful cross for Martin Petrov.

He literally did nothing after that. Nothing. I genuinely can't even remember him getting on the pitch again.

Where is he now? Fuck knows.

Wait, he's actually linking up with Didier Zokora, Roger Johnson, James Bailey, Nicky Shorey and Adrian Mutu down at FC Pune City. What a party that must be.

1) Johan Elmander

I guess ol' Johan doesn't exactly qualify for the requirements for this Top 5, but when we're talking about disappointments they don't come much bigger than our record signing. He did manage to score on his debut, against Stoke, but would only muster a further four goals that season. The Swede would come to be known for his Sahara Desert-esque droughts as, according to the ever reliable wikipedia, he had a nine and then an 11 month goal drought during his three year stay at the Reebok. I'm not quite sure if the maths works out on that, but I'm prepared to bet it does.

Elmander, unlike most of the aforementioned, didn't completely fade away however, and did finally find a rich vain of goalscoring form in his final season at the club. He netted eleven times that year, including one of the best goals the Premie League has ever seen, but it never made up for the two previous years of disappointment and the massive amount of money that was spent on him.

He left sunny Lancashire for Istanbul to play for Galatasaray, and has ended up at Bromby via Norwich City. His time at all three clubs was also underwhelming, with not many goals scored.

So that's my top five, are there any glaring omissions from the list? Do let me know in the comments below.


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