Bolton Wanderers are in £173 million worth of debt. The Championship’s bottom club did not pay players in November and need £15 million to get to the end of the season.
It’s a far cry from Sam Allardyce’s Bolton side of old. It was only seven years ago that the club were in the last-16 of the UEFA Cup.
Let’s remind ourselves of a few of the Trotters’ best players in the Premier League era and ask; where are they now?
Name: Jay-Jay Okocha
Then: “Jay-Jay Okocha, so good they named him twice”. Allardyce pulled off one of the deals of 2002 when he announced the signing of four-time African Player of the Year and Nigerian captain, Jay-Jay Okocha. The same player who, just a few years earlier, became the most expensive African player in football history when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for £14 million. Okocha was a rare breed of footballer; well ahead of the rest of his generation. Did Cristiano Ronaldo revolutionise the use of trickery in Premier League? No, Okocha did. Whether it was the flip-flap, a well timed step-over or a no-look pass, the Nigerian had it covered. In his first season with Bolton, Okocha’s seven goals from midfield helped steer the club away from relegation. The next season, following the retirement of Gudni Bergsson, Okocha was named club captain. As skipper, he led the club to their first cup final in nine years – eventually finishing as runners-up in the 2004 League Cup final. He stayed with the club until 2006. His legacy as perhaps Bolton’s best ever player was cemented.
Now: In 2012, Jay-Jay launched a vicious attack on the Bolton hierarchy. He said that the club hadn’t built upon the foundations he, and others, had laid in the mid-2000s. He lamented that his time with the club had been, in effect, a waste of time. In terms of what he’s up to now, Okocha most recently expressed his interest in becoming the Nigerian Football Federation president. He believes that in his current role as boss of the Delta State FA, he is in a good position to one day take over that role. In 2015, the Daily Mail named Okocha as the 11th most “beautiful” player to watch in Premier League history.
Name: Youri Djorkaeff
Then: It was an unbelievable year in the transfer market for Big Sam in 2002. Not only did he bring in potentially the best African player in the world but, remarkably, he brought in a former World Cup winner. 33-year-old Youri Djorkaeff had been one of the best players in the world during the 90s. He had played for the likes of Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and had featured for his country, France, on 82 separate occasions. More than a few eyebrows were raised when he signed for struggling Bolton in the February of the 2001-2002 season. Like Okocha, Djorkaeff’s goals were crucial in keeping a relatively unspectacular Bolton side in the Premier League during his first couple of seasons. In 87 Premier League games, Djorkaeff chipped in with an impressive total of 20 goals from midfield.
Now: Now 47, Djorkaeff is currently running a self-named foundation; a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing football programs in New York City. His professional career ended in 2006 after a two year spell in the MLS with New York Red Bulls. During his final spell in America, “Le God” – as he was known by the Bolton faithful – was named as the MVP. His transfer to Bolton will be remembered as one of the most remarkable moves in Premier League history.
Name: Ivan Campo
Then: Clearly, Big Sam wasn’t happy simply having one of the best African players on the planet and a World Cup winner. He wanted more. In August 2002, he announced the loan signing of a Champions League winning defensive midfielder from Real Madrid. Ivan Campo had been with Madrid for four years and had starred in the club’s Champions League final victory over his old club, Valencia, in the 1999-2000 season. He had also been part of Spain’s 1998 World Cup campaign. After a successful loan spell with the Lancashire side, Campo was expected to return to his native Spain. However, someone obviously forgot to tell the man himself and he signed a permanent deal with Bolton. Between 2002 and 2008, Campo featured over 170 times for the club, before leaving for Ipswich in the Championship. He will be forever remembered for his audacious 40-yard strike against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the 2006-2007 Premier League season.
Now: In 2012, like Okocha, Campo had his say on the plight of his former club. Unlike the Nigerian international, Campo offered his services – whether it be as a manager or player. He promised to get the club back to its “glory days”. Unfortunately for the former Spain international and fans alike, a move never materialised. Despite this, Campo’s name lives on in popular culture. An indie band from Preston have named themselves Ivan Campo in honour of the big-haired Spaniard.
Name: Nicolas Anelka
Then: Anelka was the bad boy of world football. Noone with any credit wanted to touch him with a bargepole. This didn’t bother Sam Allardyce though and, in 2006, he agreed a record £8 million fee for the French man from Turkish side, Fenerbahce. It didn’t take long for the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Manchester City man to make his mark. In his first season with the club, he scored a credible total of 11 Premier League goals and struck accord with the Bolton faithful. In his second season with the club, Anelka’s goalscoring form and new-found level-headedness saw him attract interest from a few of the Premier League elite. In January 2008, Chelsea tested Bolton’s resolve and signed the talented Frenchman for a eye-opening fee of around £15 million.
Now: Anelka, now 36, currently plays for and manages Mumbai City in the newly-formed Indian Premier League. He’s never been far away from controversy. After leaving Bolton, he had perhaps the best spell of his career – winning the Premier League, FA Cup and top scoring in the Premier League for Chelsea. However, during a later spell with West Brom, the French international caused a storm of controversy after apparently performing an anti-semitic gesture during a goal celebration. He was sacked from the club for gross misconduct.
Name: Kevin Davies
Then: Over a 10-year period, Kevin Davies became a club legend at Bolton. The former Premier League wonderkid signed for the Lancashire club in 2003 after a four-year spell at Southampton. Just five years before this, Davies was one of the most talked about players in the league. After impressing during Chesterfield’s 1997 FA Cup campaign and then in the 1997-1998 Premier League season for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers decided to part with almost £8 million for the then England Under-21 international. However, his spell at Rovers was far less successful, netting once in 21 appearances. By the time of his Bolton move, he was all but forgotten about. This didn’t deter the Sheffield-born striker though and in his first season with the club, Davies notched in a solid total of nine Premier League goals, winning the “Player of the Year” award in the process. By 2009, Davies was the club captain and back in the England reckoning. At the age of 33, Davies made his debut for England in a Euro 2012 qualifying game against Montenegro. He was the oldest debutant since Leslie Compton in 1950.
Now: 38-year-old Davies retired from the professional game earlier this summer after 22 years at the top of the game. Despite having a notable career before moving to Bolton, Davies is seen as one of the club’s finest ever servants. In 407 games for the club, he scored a total of 85 goals. He finished his career at Preston, helping the club back into the Championship during a triumphant final season. He is officially the most fouled player in Premier League history and, unsurprisingly, also holds the record for the most fouls committed.