Transfer deadline day has become one of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your opinion) of the domestic football calendar. The closure of a transfer window means a frantic rush for clubs to secure players in deals that probably should have been completed weeks ago, sex toys being waved in the faces of unsuspecting Sky Sports presenters and, often some truly bizarre transfer stories. We decided to take a look at five of the craziest transfer deadline day transfers in recent memory.
5 craziest transfer deadline day transfers
Benjani – January 2008
Portsmouth striker Benjani was scheduled to sign for Manchester City in the 2008 January transfer window but the deal nearly failed to materialise after the Zimbabwean striker fell asleep at Southampton airport, missing two separate flights to the north-west.
At the time, Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie said; “In his own inevitable, wonderful way – and we all love Benji so much – he falls asleep at the airport and misses two planes. You couldn’t write the script. The next plane at 7 o’clock got cancelled and the 8.30 was delayed. It just made the whole situation a fiasco.”
Anyone who has willingly attempted to sleep in an airport may raise an eyebrow to the story, perhaps suspecting that Benjani simply didn’t fancy the transfer much. Nonetheless, the Premier League allowed the move to go ahead after the clubs submitted the paperwork in the nick of time, bringing an end to one of the most bizarre deadline day transfers we can remember.
Peter Odemwingie – January 2013
Poor Peter Odemwingie was on the wrong end of a transfer deadline day horror story in 2013 after the Nigerian, believing that a move from West Brom to QPR had been finalised, jumped the gun slightly by hopping in his car and driving to Loftus Road from the Midlands.
Upon his arrival in London, he discovered that the move hadn’t taken place due to QPR’s failure to offload Junior Hoilett. As a result Odemwingie was denied entry to the stadium and, things going from bad to worse, Sky Sports then cameras noticed that he was arrived and proceeded to interview him through his car window.
While interviews from car windows were hardly a new addition to deadline day, just ask Harry Redknapp, this one was particularly excrutiating as Odemwingie awkwardly tried to remain positive about the transfer which everyone else knew was doomed for failure. The final insult was that West Brom subsequently disciplined the forward for his actions. Ouch.
David de Gea – August 2015
One of the longest running transfer sagas of 2015 turned into one of the greatest deadline day transfers that didn’t happen when David de Gea’s protracted move from Manchester United to Real Madrid collapsed due to a faulty fax machine.
After much to-ing and fro-ing, the two European giants agreed a transfer for the Spanish international goalkeeper. However, as the remaining minutes of the window ticked away, United were unable to send Real Madrid the contract owing to a reported faulty fax machine. Quite why e-mail wasn’t an option and why the world’s biggest football clubs continue to use fax machines at this point remains a mystery.
Regardless, de Gea stayed at Old Trafford and the rest is history.
Diafra Sakho – August 2017
If Odemwingie driving to London was a transfer deadline day shambles, it was easily outdone by Diafra Sakho’s actions in 2017 which really have to be read to be believed.
Eager to leave West Ham and force through a move to Rennes, Sakho flew to France and passed a medical with the French club the day before deadline day, despite the two clubs having not agreed a fee. The following day Sakho flew back to England, missing West Ham training in the process, but rather than going directly to the club to sort out his future, he went to Chelmsford racecourse to watch the day’s racing. Obviously.
His agent, Mark Mackay, had a horse called Siege of Boston running in the 3:20, so Sakho went to watch it, winning £500 in the process, before finally going back to the club. Needless to say, none of West Ham’s management or executives had bothered waiting for him and he was forced to stay at the club for a few more awkward months before finally securing his move the following January.
Ryan Babel – August 2010
One of the more mysterious transfer deadline day dramas involved Liverpool’s Ryan Babel in 2010 in an incident that has gained notoriety and coined the term ‘BabelCopter’ ever since. Intrigued to know more? Read on.
It emerged early on transfer deadline day that Tottenham were after Babel but then the story went quiet. A few hours later, speculation mounted again after the Dutchman was pictured in a helicopter over London. Even in the lucrative world of the professional footballer, taking a cross country helicopter to sign a contract was unusual though. Things got even odder with rumours of a move to Tottenham or West Ham failing to develop, Babel was then pictured back in Liverpool again. Had he just been sight-seeing for the day? Regardless, #BabelCopter was trending on Twitter.
Years later, Babel gave an official explanation of what happened that day to The Guardian; “It was the last day of the window, the director of football wanted to sign Cole from West Ham and send me on loan in a swap. He called me and said, ‘Hey, you can go to West Ham.’ I thought that wouldn’t be bad; I can play regularly and build my confidence. But it was 12pm and the window closed at six so we didn’t have much time. He told me to come to the airport so we can go to London by helicopter. I hate flying so I was nervous. The whole ride was bumpy. When we arrived, we got into the car and Comolli was on the phone constantly. Then he said to me, ‘There is a five-year deal, you’re going to sign it and with that money, we’ll buy Cole.’ I was confused – it was a loan and then it became a five-year contract! I called my agent and he said ‘absolutely not’, so there was no deal. And then he sent me back on the train and he took the helicopter. Now, every window the ‘Babelcopter’ still makes an appearance on Twitter.”