Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blogathon: SPL Foreign Imports

It's post two of 24. Read, enjoy, debate, donate.

Massive thanks to @BarcelonaNil for the suggestion here.

Foreigners have ruined our game coming across here with their wage demands, their dislike of wet Wednesday nights at Central Park, their blatterish ways.

Nonsense. Maybe we do sometimes bring over the wrong foreigner but if you sign crap then it's your own fault.

And some of them have been ruddy brilliant. Here are some of my favourites.


Rafael Scheidt. Scheidt by name etcetera.

Only one choice for me.

Henrik Larsson.

What a player. Is it really so recently, as we scrape around in the footballing doldrums, that we were savouring this chap in Scottish stadiums?

Aye, but he could only do it in Scotland. If you've lived a happy life in Scotland and had to put up with that accusation then the best way to answer them is probably to move on later in your career and show you can do it with Barcelona and Manchester United. And in major international championships.

Sheer quality.

Favourite game for me - those with a Celtic sympathy will be better placed to judge - was the lost UEFA Cup Final. If ever a runner-up deserved to be on the winning side.


Stephane Guivarc'h.

World Cup winner by the way.

Really though Brian Laudrup.

Another one of those with the grace, the technical ability, the demeanour that made you think "what the hell are you doing playing in Scotland" when you saw him.

Jim White has been much pilloried for the "Brian, why are you so good" question.

Rightly so, because Jim White is a bit of an arse. But the question had a certain validity.

If Laudrup had been able to answer it, to give us an insight into his footballing genetics, his footballing soul then we would have had to make him head of the SFA.


Christian Nade. Total legend.

More pertinently I'll go for Rudi Skacel.

There's a line of thought that he doesn't really fancy it much these days. Fair enough. But he's a player I still hate to see on the pitch in an Edinburgh derby.

So I'll give him the nod. He burst onto the scene in that Hearts team of 2005-2006.

And that was a fine team. A fine team that briefly looked as if they could do exactly what Vladimir Romanov said he wanted them to do.

Scottish Cup winner as well. And a goal in each the seven wins that opened that SPL season and stunned us all.


Another purely personal choice.

Hans Gilhaus.

Aberdeen signing a player for £650,000. Aberdeen signing a player from PSV.

An Aberdeen player being picked for a Dutch World Cup squad.

I liked the cut of his jib. He scored an overhead kick on his debut. He won a Scottish Cup.

His signing was ambitious. It speaks of a time when we at lost thought we could compete.

I long for the days of men like Hans.

Dundee United:

Jason De Vos. And, yes, this one is another purely personal choice.

I've a soft spot for a dedicated, committed centre back.

The "foreign import are bad for us" seems flimsy when a flinty defender from Canada ends up captaining one of our sides.

Captained Wigan in a promotion season as well.

On a massively personal note I was once playing football on Edinburgh's Meadows.

We had a solid centre half who liked to wear a full Dundee United strip. (I often wore the clothes I'd worn the night before.)

On one occasion our United bedecked defender came up for a corner. I took the corner. He leapt, salmon-like, and fired home a powerful header.

He wheeled away and ran over to thank me. As he did so he repeatedly pumped his fist and shouted "Jason De Vos."

Anyone who can inspire that dedication in a twenty-something university graduate deserves my respect.


Nae debate. Alen Orman. What a player that was. Remember his goal at Ibrox? And his performance at...?

Yeah, scrub that.

Ladies and gentlemen, Franck Sauzee.

The European Cup winner in Hibernian's midst. A gentleman, a genius, a class above.

Hibs were better when Sauzee played. When he moved back to sweeper he gave us weekly lessons in how simple but beautiful football can be. If you're good enough to make it look easy.

Couldn't fault his commitment either. The dental disaster suffered in scoring against Hearts. The times he played through injury simply because we needed him.

The goals. The skills. Sublime.

The managerial appointment was messy, premature, badly handled. The genius left us with oodles of heartbreak. Maybe that's how geniuses should leave us.

And, if I'm being cynical, I'd say Hibs have been living the karma of that whole episode for a few years.

St Mirren:

Running out of time now: Ludovic Roy for longevity. I'd be surprise if any other foreigners have lasted as long or played as many games.


Time is firmly my enemy: Luc Nijholt for winning the 1991 Scottish Cup.


Aaargh: Alexei Eremenko for shining brightly but briefly and making my big mate Mixu happy.


Quickly: Ivo den Bieman for being so fully accepted that he seemed like part of our footballing furniture.

St Johnstone:

Sergei Baltacha. For liking us so much he gave us our best women's tennis player.


Davide Xausa for being a foreign import when time is against me.

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