Football's 7 Greatest Fakes and Frauds

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Lazio youngster Joseph Minala was subject to investigation after claims that his age is false came to light. The 17-year-old has been bizarrely accused of being 41. The claims have been rubbished, but here are some players whose real identity has been in the spotlight.

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7. Ali Dia

This was the Premier League's greatest scam. In November 1996, Southampton manager Graeme Souness recieved a phone call from someone claiming to be World Player of the Year George Weah - he wasn't. 

 

He recommended his 'cousin', a certain 'Ali Dia'. He claimed that he had been capped for Senegal and had once been on the books at PSG. Without questioning the legitimacy of any of this, Souness gave the lad a trial and a one-month contract.


Due to several injuries at the club, Dia found himself on the bench for a League game against Leeds United. When Matt Le Tissier pulled up injured, Dia was brought on to make his Premier League debut. He was so abysmal, he was re-substituted 33 minutes later. He then disappeared, never to be seen again.

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6. Masal Bugduv

In 2009, Masal Bugduv was Europe's rising star. It was a fairytale in the making. A 16-year-old striker from Moldova, making a name for himself in European football.


He made headlines on popular sites such as Goal.com and When Saturday Comes. The Times also ran a story that read: "Moldova's finest, the 16 year old attacker has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, work permit permitting, and he's been linked with plenty of other top clubs as well." He was also in their 'Top 50 rising stars' feature.


This was all very impressive, particularly because HE NEVER EXISTED! It was an elaborate hoax by an anonymous Irishman who was fed up with the transfer rumour mill.

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5. Alessandro Zarelli

Alessandro Zarelli is another of British football's infamous tricksters. When he signed for Bangor City in 2005, the Italian was a hit with the fans. He posed for photographs and gave interviews. He was seen as a real Marque signing for the Welsh Premier League side. 

 

However, after a month of staying in free accommodation and with money in his pocket, he pulled a runner.


He had previously pulled the same stunt at Northern Irish side Lisburn Distillery and attempted it on another welsh side, Connahs Qauy. It was only when he spotted the manager speaking to the Bangor manager, that he promptly scampered. He had fabricated his entire back story and it's likely that this isn't even his real name.

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4. Taribo West

Former Nigerian international and Inter Milan defender Taribo West was accused of lying about his age.


The ex-president of Partizan Belgrade claimed that when they signed West from Derby County in 2002, he wasn't 28 - as everyone believed - but he was actually 40. He was also accused of this when he tried to sign for Croatian side HNK Rijeka. They said that he told them he was 32, when he was in fact 44.


That year, West also had an unsuccessful spell at Plymouth Argyle. Perhaps the real reason for his poor performances for the Pilgrims was because he was actually 44. 


The real age of Taribo West is still one of Football's unsolved mysteries.

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3. Many Nigerian Footballers Since the 1980's

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 19:  Christantus Ejike of Nigeria (7) is congratulated for scoring by Kwambe Solomon, Abdullahi Shehu, Erhun Obanor and Bright Eseme of Nigeria during the 2014 African Nations Championship match between South Africa and Nigeria at Cape Town Stadium on January 19, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

In 1989 FIFA banned Nigeria from competing in FIFA youth tournaments because they had been fielding over-age players.


It is thought that this has never stopped, despite being allowed back in the competitions. At the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, Japan's head coach, Philippe Troussier, claimed that he was sure he saw one of the Nigeria players driving home with his wife and kids.


When FIFA introduced wrist scanners that could determine a players real age for the 2009 Under-17 World Cup, Nigeria suddenly discarded 15 of their 18 man squad.

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2. Sir Alf Ramsey

It has been claimed that England's legendary World Cup winning manager was actually born in 1920 and not 1922, as was widely thought.


Dave Bowler, author of 'Winning Isn't Everything: A Biography of Sir Alf Ramsey', wrote that Ramsey had forged documents so that his date of birth was changed from 1920 to 1922. He apparently did this out of the fear that when the Second World War ended, he would be too old to receive a professional contract.

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1. Radamel Falcao

Prolific Monaco and Colombia striker Radamel Falcao was questioned about his age in 2013. A Colombian television station accused Falcao of being two years older than his listed age of 27, after his primary school dug up documents that revealed he was born in 1984, not 1986.


The implications if this was true would be massive, especially considering AS Monaco paid Atletico Madrid a staggering £53 million for the striker. That would be a rather large sum of money for a 29-year-old. In this case however, all was clarified as a newspaper published a copy of his birth certificate stating that he was in fact born in 1986.

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