Which football clubs have replaced players with same-name signings? | The Knowledge

“Last week QPR sold Matt Smith to Millwall and signed another Matt Smith on loan from Manchester City … on the same day,” writes Martyn Bryce. “Do readers have other examples of such dealings with players of the same name.”

It doesn’t happen often Martyn, but there are some examples. Ryan Geraghty takes us back a year to the north-west of England to get the ball rolling. “I’m sure you will have a few readers responding with this one: I recall last summer Reece James – formerly of Manchester United – being released by Wigan only for Wigan to sign Reece James on loan from Chelsea. I didn’t suspect he would go on to be their player of the season and now be linked with Crystal Palace, but the name stuck in my mind. And, of course, there were the Dembélés at Fulham.”

Indeed there were, Ryan. Moussa Dembélé checked in at Craven Cottage on 15 July 2012, and there was already a Mousa Dembélé on the books. He was promptly sold to Tottenham the following month, perhaps after having his style cramped by his younger almost identically-named new teammate.

“In 1992 Coventry City had Paul Williams and Paul Williams (on loan) playing behind John Williams,” writes the one and only Andy Masters. “We also had Mickys Gynn and Quinn, and Sean Flynn. A year later, Paul Williams was sold and replaced by a third Paul Williams.”

“Southend United were linked with Jack Payne for a while, after selling Jack Payne to Huddersfield,” pipes up Navin Patel, who thinks there may have been a headline-grabbing motive behind it. “I’m not sure how serious the link was … I suspect Phil Brown saw an opportunity to get his name in the papers and went for it.”

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Charbel Boujaoude has wound the clock back just the 116 years to bring us this fine example of a Robertson overload: “I have a suggestion from my youth,” quips Charbel. “Back in 1903, in the space of a few days, Manchester United signed two players called Alexander Robertson. One came from Hibernian and went by Alex, the other from Middlesbrough and had to answer to Sandy, to ease the confusion. But, to add to the confusion, United also signed Tom Robertson in this same three-day period, making it three Robertson purchases together.”

And not strictly a transfer, but Mali did replace goalscoring Adama Traoré with another Adama Traoré in the Africa Cup of Nations group stages – and he only went and scored.

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Outfield players wearing trousers

“Who was the last outfielder to wear trousers whilst playing,” tweets Ben Jones.

Harry Kewell

Harry Kewell, a fan of warm legs. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It’s taken an Australian playing in the frozen east to provide an answer. Over to you, Russell Connor: “Leeds’s away leg against Spartak Moscow in the 1999 Uefa Cup couldn’t take place due to a frozen pitch and -20C conditions, so the game was moved to Bulgaria. However, it was still cold enough for Harry Kewell to wear tracksuit bottoms under his normal kit. I remember most of the Leeds players were wearing gloves that night, though captain Gary Kelly was wearing short sleeves.”

Anyone else for tennis?

Last week we trawled through the archives to find the select few footballers who have also played tennis to a professional standard. We missed some.

“Try to top Karel Kozeluh in versatility,” writes Erich Plöchl. “He played football for both the Austrian and the Czechoslovakian national teams (winning four and two caps respectively), won the professional tennis championships in the US and France and added a European championship in ice hockey as well.”

OK, we’ll try Erich. “I’d like to draw your attention to Max Woosnam,” writes Nathan Ratcliffe. “An extract from his Wikipedia page states: ‘Among his achievements were winning an Olympic gold and silver in tennis at the 1920 Summer Olympics, winning the doubles at Wimbledon, compiling a 147 break in snooker, making a century at Lord’s, captaining the British Davis Cup team, captaining Manchester City FC finishing ultimately runners-up for the Football League Championship in 1920–21 and captaining the England national football team.’ Mr Woosnam ticks more boxes than pretty much any man ever has.”

The front cover of a book about Max Woosnam called ‘All Round Genius – The Unknown Story of Britain’s Greatest Sportsman’ by Mick Collins.

The front cover of a book about Max Woosnam called ‘All Round Genius – The Unknown Story of Britain’s Greatest Sportsman’ by Mick Collins. Photograph: Handout

Knowledge archive

“Last week there were five Athens-based teams playing in European competition,” wrote Michael Dunn many moons ago in November 2004. “Olympiakos and Panathinaikos in the Champions League, and AEK Athens, Panionios and Egaleo in the Uefa Cup. Five teams in Europe from the same city: this has got to be a record hasn’t it?”

It has indeed, though it only equals the record set by five Moscow clubs in September 1996. On 10 September 10, in the Uefa Cup, CSKA Moscow were defeated 1-0 by Feyenoord, Torpedo Moscow were beaten 1-0 by Dinamo Tblisi, Spartak Moscow beat Silkeborg 3-2, and Dinamo Moscow had a goalless draw with Neuchâtel Xamax of Switzerland. In the same week, on September 12 Lokomotiv Moscow beat NK Varteks of Croatia 1-0 in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Can you help?

“Has any manager taken charge of more rival clubs than Steve Bruce? Now that he has taken the reins at Newcastle United, I make that six clubs and three rivalries: Newcastle v Sunderland, Aston Villa v Birmingham, Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday. Can anyone beat that?” asks Derek Robertson.

Simon Powell

Plymouth argyle have now signed 4 players from Bury in 4 weeks plus taking Ryan Lowe the manager. What’s the most players signed from one club to another in such a short space of time

July 15, 2019

“Alpay Özalan was unceremoniously kicked out of Aston Villa by Doug Ellis after behaving badly to David Beckham in an international game between Turkey and England. Other than strictly exceptional situations such as war between countries, England and Argentina disagreeing over some random islands in the middle of nowhere for instance … are there any situations in which a player has been terminated by his host club for something that occurred during an international game between his national team and his country?” asks Adesegun Agbebiyi. We’ll kick you off with Ahn Jung-hwan.


@TheKnowledge_GU 6 teams were knocked out of the AFC 1st Qualifying Round last month, ending any hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup already. Has a team ever been eliminated so far in advance of a completion?

July 13, 2019

DJ Crafty Kegs

Everton has Prince Rupert’s Tower on their badge, which was a lock-up – a type of temporary jail. Any other teams with prisons or penal related items on their badge?

July 16, 2019

Jim Hilton

Has a manager ever brought a player for a club out of his own money and have they ever sold him on and kept the profit???

July 16, 2019

“Who is the youngest captain at a major international tournament such as the World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, the Gold Cup, Copa América, the Asian Cup or European Championship, for example?” wonders Alex Muchangi.


@TheKnowledge_GU as well as Jesús Corona, has anyone else changed their shirt name to a different product to fit sponsor/owner needs? https://t.co/CtS0zytskA

July 16, 2019

Email your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.



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