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Dietmar Hamann - The One Day Wanderer

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A look back at the shortest career of a Wanderer ever

Manchester City v West Ham United Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Remember Dietmar Hamann, the former Newcastle United, Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder?

Well, he also signed for Bolton Wanderers. I'm sure it's a story you'll already be familiar with, but I thought i'd recall it having seen his tweet about it the other day.

The former German international suggested Liverpool should sign Real Madrid defender Pepe on a free transfer, to which somebody replied 'Thought pepe already signed a pre contract with PSG'.

Hamann's response was:

So, let's look back at how Didi Hamann spent one day as a Bolton Wanderers player.

Cast your mind back to 2006. Big Sam Allardyce had just missed out on the England job to Steve McClaren.

As Big Sam states in his autobiography: “If I was going to stay at Bolton, I had to make a bid for a top four spot, which I thought was within our capabilities.”

Being Bolton, Allardyce would have to make a push for the Champions League on a budget. After club legend Jay-Jay Okocha had left for one last pay cheque in Qatar, Wanderers needed another seasoned international to take his place.

Big Sam had set his sights on Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann. Wanderers had tried to sign the German the previous year, but Hamann opted to stay at Anfield.

Now, Hamann was a free agent and Big Sam made his move.

In June 2006, Hamann had a medical with Wanderers and signed a pre-contract. Allardyce had finally signed a player he had been after for well over a year.

Didi Hamann then headed off to Munich to be with his family before pre-season began. Just before he went to the airport, Big Sam sent Hamann out with player liaison offer Matt Hockin to get a feel for the town, as Hamann had wanted to move from Merseyside to Bolton.

As Hamann wrote in his autobiography 'The Didi Man':

“It was nice enough. Then as we were driving along the sky turned a deathly black. I've never seen a sky that black before. It was like something out of a biblical epic. Great drops of rain began to fall until, even with the wipers on super-fast, I could barely see where I was going. It made the whole place seem bleak.”

The rumour at the time was that Hamann had gone into a McDonald's and couldn't understand the Boltonian accent.

Doubts began to creep into Hamann's head, and as he headed off towards the airport he received a phone call, stating Manchester City would be interested in signing him.

Hamann told City he would sign for them, without stating he had already signed a contract with Wanderers.

A week or so later, Wanderers agreed a deal to sell Hamann to City for £500,000, with a fifth of that going to Liverpool due to a sell on clause. Not bad for a player who never kicked a ball for Wanderers.

On 11th July 2006, Bolton Wanderers released the following statement on their website:

“Although Didi Hamann signed a contract with the club, he has since had a change of heart. He will sign for another club within 24 hours.”

A day later he was confirmed as a Man City player.

Wanderers would go on to finish 7th and qualify for the UEFA Cup, Man City finished a lowly 14th.

In 2013, former Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside told Hamann on talksport: “What you never realised is that we never countersigned the papers and we put them in the drawer.”

The Premier League duly investigated, and found that Hamann had definitely been registered as a Bolton Wanderers player, despite Gartside stating otherwise.

Hamann has publicly apologised since, and in the same talksport interview said:

“I made a mistake, I hold my hands up and I want to apologise for all the aggro I caused. Big Sam is fine with it, and when i've seen him he says it was the best deal he's ever done because I never kicked a ball for them”.

So there's the story of how Dietmar Hamann became the one day Wanderer.