Reports from Craven Cottage are suggesting that Fulham have sold QPR a player who “never existed in the first place.”
The extraordinary claims come on the back of Bobby Zamora’s mooted £5 million move from Fulham to QPR.
A source from the West Ham grounds staff revealed today that “Bobby Zamora gave up football a long time ago. I don’t know where he went but it caused problems because West Ham had agreed to sell him to Fulham. What happened after that I couldn’t tell you, but that wasn’t the real Bobby Zamora you saw.”
“That’s what they’re saying is it?” asked Roy Hodgson, questioned today on his way out of the WBA training ground. “As far as I’m concerned a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse. I’ve already said too much now. Kapisch?” Hodgson disappeared down the road without looking back, jumping a red light while repeatedly honking his Volvo’s horn.
So who was Bobby Zamora? Fulham’s then reserve kit man was able to confirm that Zamora did indeed have his own changing room at the club’s Motspur Park training ground. And we can reveal that the club has kept a makeup expert on retainer since 2008. Was Bobby Zamora played by actors?
Extensive digging suggests that something like the following may have transpired: in 2008-09 Fulham hired Emile Heskey, then struggling for form with Wigan, to play the part of ‘Zamora’. This he did with relative ease, and established himself as a fine hold-up player who might sometimes struggle for goals. Heskey was retained for 2009-10 but Fulham received a stroke of luck when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then failing to make an impact at Barcelona, was made available in September 2009. Ibrahimovic wasn’t free for all games, and Fulham relied on Heskey increasingly in league matches, but the deal was considered a success as Fulham reached the Europa League Final in Hamburg. Sadly for the club Ibrahimovic was not prepared to travel to Germany for the final, so Heskey deputised, and while he played quite well, the drop off was telling and too much for the West London club to bear. They lost 2-1.
After that both players withdrew their support for the scheme (Heskey because he was ‘tired of being messed around’, Ibra because of a move to Milan). Under Mark Hughes ‘Zamora’ was occasionally and successfully played by Roque Santa Cruz, but this scheme backfired when Santa Cruz was injured playing swingball with his cousin at a Wandsworth garden party. His absence put huge pressure on the club.
So why did this happen? It’s thought that Hodgson was given no choice in the matter, with Mohammed al Fayed reluctant to lose face in the football world. In time he came to appreciate the flexibility of the arrangement. Mark Hughes an easy convert: “this happens everywhere in football. You did it at City and Blackburn, right?” He went along with it, although it is thought that he was less than impressed with David Elm, Hodgson’s intended ‘Zamora’ stand in. Martin Jol has declined to comment on the situation but it is thought that he has been using Pierre van Hoijdonk to play ‘Zamora’ in recent times, a situation that sources close to Jol claim is ‘not ideal’. Indeed, Jol has been trying to rid the club of it’s Zamora problem since he arrived, only to face opposition from al Fayed. Fayed was finally convinced to cash in when van Hooijdonk was caught mooning at Michael Jackson’s statue after the team’s win over Newcastle.