5 Championship Manager Stars Who Really Burned Out

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Dan Fitch looks at legendary Championship Manager players who failed to set the world alight in real life.

There is a statistic that proves just how addictive the Championship Manager and latterly the Football Manager series of games are. In one single year the game was cited in 35 divorce cases.

So detailed are these games, that real life managers like Arsene Wenger and David Moyes have admitted using their databases as a tool when recruiting new players.

Picking which young players will be tomorrow's stars is a difficult business for the game companies. Very often they are eerily accurate in their predictions, but sometimes they have labelled a player a 'Wonderkid' only for them to turn out to be a real life dud.

Here are 5 Championship Manager stars who really burned out.

5. Serge Makofo

In CM4 the first course of action for any self- respecting manager, was to click on the financially stricken Wimbledon and rid them of all their best young players.

The pick of the bunch was a teenager named Serge Makofo. His exact position(s) would seem to change every time you started a new game, but more often than not he would be deemed to be a right back.

Makofo was like no full back you had ever seen though. His dribbling ability was through the roof and if you set him to ultra-attacking, rarely-pass mode, he would go on ridiculous runs across the entire length of the pitch and score 15-20 goals a season.

Unfortunately, Makofo (actually a striker) didn't turn out to be such an amazing player in real life. Leaving the Dons in 2006, Makofo played for several non-league clubs and though he spent last season with the League 2 outfit Burton Albion, he is now back at Grays Athletic.

4. Tó Madeira

To produce a game like Championship Manager or Football Manager, requires a worldwide scouting team to accurately create a player database.

One such scout was António Lopes, who reported on the Portuguese team Gouveia. Lopes had actually once played for the youth Gouveia's youth team, but had stopped when he went to study in Coimbra.

Seeing a chance to immortalise himself, Lopes used his access to the CM database, to create a fictional Gouveia player to whom he gave the pseudonym 'Tó Madeira'.

Lopes' creation was a striker with brilliant ratings and was the must-sign player on CM 01/02. When Lopes' mischief was detected, the fictional Madeira was dropped from future versions of the game.

Tó Madeira? An absolutely legendary player. António Lopes? Not quite such a legendary player, but clearly an absolutely legendary man.

3. Fabio Paim

When Luiz Felipe Scolari became manager of Chelsea, one of his first signings was the young winger Fabio Paim from Sporting Lisbon. Few in England had heard of him, apart of course, who remember his legendary prowess on CM4.

Signing the 14-year old Paim was an essential bit of business, back in the day. Here was a winger that could play on both flanks and who possessed extraordinary dribbling ability.

Paim was actually good enough to go straight into the Premier League at an age when he should have still been doing a paper round, but in real life, things have proved rather different.

Now aged 22, Paim failed to make an appearance during his loan spell at Chelsea and played only twice while on loan at the Portuguese second division side Real Massama last season.

2. Cherno Samba

Imagine an Emile Heskey with goalscoring ability. Like the real Heskey during his first season at Liverpool, only even better.

Cherno Samba was such a player and the teenage Millwall striker was a brilliant signing on several versions of Championship Manager.

Samba didn't live up to the hype in real life, but to be fair to the CM scouts, it wasn't just them who thought that he'd become a world-beater.

At 14-years old, Samba had scored 132 goals in 32 youth games and was linked with a £2m move to Liverpool or Manchester United. Eventually it was agreed that Samba would go to Anfield, but Millwall were reluctant to name a price for the striker and with Liverpool not wanting the transfer to go to a tribunal, the deal broke down.

Samba found himself back at Millwall, where he struggled to overcome the disappointment of not getting his dream move.

Released by Millwall in 2004, Samba had a spell with Cadiz in Spain, before returning to England with Plymouth. Still unable to make his breakthrough, Samba moved to FC Haka of Finland and last season played for the Greek second division side Panetolikos F.C.

1. Tonton Zola Moukoko

The wonderfully named Tonton Zola Moukoko is probably the greatest player to have graced the CM series.

Google his name and you will find very little about his real life achievements, but a plethora of gamers reminiscing about the time he scored 40+ goals from an attacking midfield position behind the strikers.

The Derby midfielder could be picked up for next to nothing and would soon become the most vital cog in your team, but in real life his career has fallen to such depths that he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.

He does however, have one Facebook appreciation group devoted to memories of his CM exploits and one that has the aim of finding out what happened to the great man. The rumour is that he's now playing for Atlantis FC in the Finnish second division...

The disappearing act only adds to the legend of Tonton Zola Moukoko - the greatest Championship Manager player of all time.

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