Seeing as the ‘ten year challenge’ is doing the rounds on social media, I thought I would put a Bolton Wanderers spin on it. I didn’t feel like doing a comparison between then and now (nobody wants that), so here’s a look back at the time the former most expensive player in the world almost became a Wanderer.
January 2009. Gary Megson’s Bolton Wanderers sat eleventh in the Premier League table following a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic. With the January window on the horizon, Megson needed some reinforcements to combat the injury crisis that had started to build up.
Initial rumours had linked Wanderers with moves for Joey Barton & Jimmy Bullard, with the club being priced out of moves for both players. This seemed to be a trend in the January of 2009, with the infamous move for Portuguese international Miguel Veloso also being derailed by the asking price.
Megson was seemingly looking for value for money and was offered the chance to take former Brazil international, Denilson, on trial.
In what he described as a ‘win win’ situation, Megson stated:
“An agent called one of our staff up and asked if we would like to look at Denilson.
It doesn’t cost us anything and it’s an opportunity for the lad and an opportunity for ourselves to see one of the world’s best players - albeit of a few years ago - and see how he is now.”
At the time, 31 year old Denilson had just left Palmeiras and was looking to be playing football again in Europe. The potential deal screamed Allardyce-esque. Wanderers fans had been used to seeing high profile players arrive to varied success during the early noughties.
The Brazilian winger was widely acclaimed as a youngster, impressing with the typical flair you would expect from a South American player. Starting his career with Sao Paulo, Denilson quickly established himself with the club and also with the national team.
As Brazil were crowned Confederations Cup champions in 1997, Denilson claimed the Golden Ball award for his performances.
A year later, Denilson moved to Spanish side Real Betis for a then world record fee of £21.5 million. Despite playing over 200 times for Betis, the tricky winger didn’t live up to the hype of his extortionate transfer fee, though he continued to be a regular in the Brazil international side.
As a substitute, Denilson was part of the 2002 World Cup winning Brazil side, but a change in manager meant his international career was over by the time he was 26.
A decade ago yesterday, Denilson’s trial with Wanderers ended with the winger having failed to earn a deal.
Megson would go on to praise his attitude, but revealed he just wasn’t good enough:
“There are other parts of his game that we didn’t feel we would be able to use to our advantage and would be able to complement everyone else.
We have spoken with his people and said we won’t be going any further.
He is a fantastic person and didn’t come here as a ‘big time Charlie’. He mixed in with everyone else - and if anyone rang me up about giving him a reference he’d get nothing but positives.”
Wanderers signed three players during the January window a decade ago. Firstly there was Mark Davies, a player who certainly had the potential and talent to have been a Wanderers great, but injuries cruelly plagued his career.
Then there was the loan signings of French centre back, Sebastien Puygrenier & Portuguese striker, Ariza Makukula.
Wanderers had options to make both moves permanent, but the pair failed to impress during their time at The Reebok.
Puygrenier is best remembered for scoring Wanderers’ 4000th goal in the top flight, whilst Makukula is remembered for flooring Nemanja Vidić on his debut.