Former Millwall striker Cherno Samba has revealed the heartbreak he suffered over a failed move to Liverpool.
The ex-England youth international was praised as the potential star of his generation after being signed by the London club as a child.
He was being courted by Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, and Liverpool – and it was the Reds who looked to have won the battle to sign him.
But the move collapsed after he was photographed wearing a Liverpool tracksuit top at Melwood and the Championship Manager cult hero has spoken about the depression he went on to suffer.
“After I’d been to Melwood, I was on the bus with my mates and my phone rang: It was Michael Owen.” he told The Guardian.
“I tried to shush my mates, saying: ‘It’s Michael Owen,’ and they were like: ‘Shut up.’
“So I put him on loud speaker. The whole bus went quiet. He said it would be great if I came to Liverpool.
“I couldn’t breathe when I came off the phone and I remember thinking: ‘This is happening.'” he added.
But Millwall called off the move, with reports claiming that they wanted the agreed £2m fee paid in full after Liverpool had offered to pay half of it upfront.
“It crushed my world. I thought: ‘If I can’t have my dream move, I don’t want anything to do with football.” he said.
Samba never played a professional game for Millwall before leaving to try and progress his career in Spain with Cadiz and Malaga’s B side.
Things didn’t work out for him there and he returned to England with Plymouth Argyle and Wrexham.
He was unable to make much of an impact back in English football and decided to try his luck abroad again with spells in Finland, Greece and Norway.
But he never managed to fulfil the potential and is best known as a bargain signing on Championship Manager, which he talks about in his book titled ‘Still In The Game’.