Whatever happened to the superstars of Championship Manager 97/98?

Players who enjoyed spells at Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Everton, and Liverpool feature in our trip down memory lane.

Championship Manager 1997/98 was a cult classic game which took virtual football management to new levels. Such was it's popularity and overall success, the layout became a template for modern day football management games.

As with the games that both preceded and succeeded it, there would always be certain players who stood above the rest. Only their real-life careers wouldn't always parallel their virtual ones.

Here we take a look at what became of some of the CM 97/98 legends...

Erik Nevland

The Norwegian striker started his career at Viking FK in Norway before being snapped up by Manchester United at the age of 19. In his time with the Red Devils he only managed to score one goal and was subsequently shipped off back to Viking in 2000 after a couple of loan spells.

A move to FC Groningen in 2004 saw him spend 4 successful years in Holland before being signed up by Fulham where he played over 50 times in the Premier League and scored 9 goals. In 2010 he once again returned to his boyhood club, Viking and retired in 2012. Throughout his career he represented Norway 8 times without scoring a single goal.

Ibrahima Bakayoko

Walter Smith brought Bakayoko from Montpellier to Everton in 1998 for £4.5 million. Tipped for big things, it turned out to be a disappointing spell for the Toffees, with him only managing to bag 4 league goals in 23 games. His poor displays led the Everton fans to call him 'Baka-joke-o' and he was soon shipped off to Marseille for £4 million the following year.

He spent 4 years in France where he scored 34 league goals before going on to represent several different clubs across Italy, Spain and Greece. Now, at the age of 37, he plays for Olympiacos Volou 1937 F.C. in the second tier of Greek football.

Although his goalscoring record at club level was inconsistent he did manage to bag an impressive 30 goals in 45 appearances for Ivory Coast.

Denílson de Oliveira Araújo

Once held the title of the most expensive player in the world, signing for Real Betis from São Paulo for a massive £21.5 million in 1998. Denílson was touted as a star for the future but soon became somewhat of a flop at Betis when you take into consideration the money they paid for him.

Within two seasons Betis were relegated to the Segunda División and Denílson went back to Brazil on loan. He returned to Spain after Betis were promoted back to La Liga and found some form as the team garnered some success over a few years but Denílson soon became a fringe player and in 2005 he was sold to Bordeaux.

Between 2005 and his eventual retirement in 2010 Denílson represented teams in Saudi Arabia, USA, Brazil, Vietnam and Greece.

He played for Brazil 60 times and even won a World Cup medal in 2002, but not only did he fail to live up to his record breaking transfer fee, his superstar role in Championship Manager was also way off the mark.

Sonny Anderson

Sonny Anderson was playing for his new club, Barcelona when CM 97/98 was released. The makers of the game could be forgiven for dressing up his ability considering he already boasted an impressive goal scoring record in the Swiss and French leagues.

His goal return for Barcelona wasn't as spectacular, managing 16 in 47 appearances for the Catalan giants. In 1999 he moved to Olympique Lyonnais for €18 million and embarked on a successful 4 year spell where he netted 71 league goals in 110 matches.

He returned to Spain in 2003 where he played for Villarreal CF before finishing his career in Qatar. A prolific goalscorer throughout his career and often regarded as an underrated football player who's success was overshadowed and eclipsed by that of fellow Brazilian, Ronaldo. 233 career league goals was only enough to get him just 7 caps for Brazil.

Alfonso Pérez

Alfonso Pérez was the cream of the crop on CM 97/98. His ability to play in several attacking positions meant that he would bang in goals left, right and centre for whichever team he was playing for.

However, his real-life career differed greatly to that of his virtual one. Although it could hardly be stated that he had an unsuccessful career (having represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona), he certainly didn't cement himself as one of Europe's top strikers.

His most successful campaign was his first with Real Betis, which coincided with the release of the game. In this 5 year spell with the club he netted 57 times in La Liga. A regular feature in La Liga, he received 38 caps for Spain and scored 11 goals, including 2 against Yugoslavia in Euro 2000.

Florian Maurice

Once touted as the new Jean-Pierre Papin, Maurice failed to fully build on the hype surrounding his future. His 6 years at Lyon saw a reasonably healthy goal return of 44 in 126 appearances before he made a move to Paris Saint Germain for a fee in the region of £5 million.

His time at PSG only lasted one season where he only managed 7 league goals. He was swiftly moved on to Marseille where he stayed for 3 years, scoring 23 league goals in 62 games. One unsuccessful season in Spain was followed by moves to 3 different French clubs, eventually ending his career at Châteauroux in 2005.

Throughout his career he claimed 6 caps for the French national team, scoring just one goal.

Tommy Svindal-Larsen

The Norwegian defensive midfielder was obviously tipped for big things at one point in his career as the makers of CM 97/98 had written him into the game as one of the best purchases possible.

In reality, Tommy Svindal Larsen spent the majority of his career playing for Norwegian clubs with only relative success. He had 4 years at German side 1. FC Nürnberg where he scored 2 goals in 109 league appearances and was also capped 24 times for Norway.

All in all, one that largely failed to leave a mark on the game.

John Curtis

If you ever played CM 97/98 for more than one season then you would have figured out that John Curtis was the best young Englishman that you could buy on the game.

He was an 18-year-old central defender representing Manchester United and was guaranteed for success in the future. His real life career started off on a similar foot, being touted as a future star for both United and England, tipped to follow previous academy graduates like Scholes, Beckham and the Neville brothers.

But it wasn't to be for John Curtis. A relatively successful 3 years spent at Blackburn was then followed by a gradual drop down the leagues over the space of 7 years. He is now registered as a free agent having last played for Gold Coast United in Australia.

Sean Dundee

A South African-German footballer who was representing German side Karlsruher SC at the time of the game's release; Dundee was a prolific goalscorer for Karlsruher in CM 97/98.

His goalscoring record of 36 league goals in 85 games for the German outfit was impressive enough for Liverpool to take a punt at him in 1998. However, in one season he only managed 3 Premier League appearances without scoring a single goal and was shipped off to VfB Stuttgart.

Dundee spent 4 years with Stuttgart, scoring 25 goals in 77 games. The next years saw him have an unsuccessful spell in Austria before returning to Karlsruher. He finished his career at South African side AmaZulu in 2009.

Who was your best player on CM 97/98?

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © manuel | MC

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