Brits abroad are often mocked in every single possible way outside of the sports world, mainly because 90% of us fall into that ‘fish out of water’ category. That’s not a critique, either, because as a nation we tend to be quite proud of our roots – but when it comes to football we certainly like to keep our feet firmly planted on the British Isles.
One such example that sticks out above all others is Luther Blissett, who some may know simply because his name has been used as a pseudonym for the last 20 years. With that bizarre tidbit put to one side, we need to point out that Luther was formerly one of England’s most lethal strikers; with the key word there being ‘England’.
“Platini scored the most goals last year with 18? Milan, I will score more.” – Luther Blissett
The story goes that the now 59-year-old first made a name for himself at Vicarage Road with Watford, almost helping to lead The Hornets all the way to the promised land of the First Division title. They may have come up short in the long run, but they certainly gained the support and admiration of the nation – for the most part.
Then, in what can retrospectively be described as an utterly bizarre career move, Luther made the jump to Italy in order to turn out for one of the greatest European clubs in the history of the game: AC Milan.
The Italian giants forked out £1-million for the forward, and from the word go things just felt a little bit off. Rumours began floating around that Milan actually confused him with the legendary John Barnes and signed Blissett by accident, but we’re choosing to believe that isn’t true based on how utterly humiliating it would be if it was.
Life, in general, was a little different for the million pound man as he struggled to adapt to his new surroundings. It probably didn’t help that he couldn’t seem to locate his favourite cereal, which is a troubling task at the best of times, in addition to the fact that the Jamaican was coming to the San Siro at a point where Milan was in a period of transition.
“No matter how much money you have here, you can’t seem to get Rice Krispies.” – Luther Blissett
The club’s involvement in a betting scandal led to two separate relegations from Serie A, which severely dented the legacy and reputation of the club moving forward. The rebuilding process was going to be long and difficult, meaning that in a way, Luther was probably being seen as a potential guiding light for the team as they transitioned into their new era.
It could be worse (1983)
You could be Luther Blissett being brought by Milan for £1m with them thinking they've brought John Barnes!
— Dean Brasenell (@Deanbraz) August 20, 2017
In short, it just didn’t work out.
Under Graham Taylor, there was a purpose behind Blissett’s play, and he didn’t appear to enjoy playing a more defensive style that cut down at his ability to cause mayhem up top. Like a spoilt child in October waiting for Christmas, Luther refused to allow the blame to fall on his own shoulders – insisting that this was only the beginning of his surge to dominance overseas.
Of course, when the opportunities eventually fell to him, he naturally turned into the stereotypical ‘can’t score in a brothel’ centre-forward. He smashed his first penalty so far over the bar it probably landed in Turin, couldn’t score from a yard out in the derby against Inter, and fully embraced his role as the overrated English guy who couldn’t get it done on the big stage.
Milan fans started mocking him, too, cheering every time he touched the ball as if Totti had just won them the World Cup ten times over.
Becoming a cult hero to the masses clearly wasn’t the aim of this transfer, and neither was selling his damaged goods back to Watford for half the price, but you can’t say that the entertainment value wasn’t through the roof.
Five goals in thirty appearances was the final total and as painfully amusing as that statistic is, it pales in comparison to the defiance that Blissett continues to show even to this day.
“In this case, the team was nowhere near as good as the name Milan would make you believe. And the way we played the game was not ideal for getting the best out of me and what I was good at.” – Luther Blissett
Sure Milan only ended up 8th in the table and sure they weren’t the juggernaut that they once were, but surely Luther could’ve done his homework before giving head first into such a culture change? After all, time has proven that the Italians tend to know what they’re doing on a football pitch.
So whilst we’re confident that his days with Wimborne Town, Derry City and Fakenham Town made the man and his dog in attendance happy, nothing compares to the hilarity of what was essentially a gap year gone wrong.