Worse Than Compper?

Well… was Marvin Compper indeed the worst Celtic signing of all time?

He’s certainly had some competition over the years. Here’s the first of of an occasional series to jog the collective memory featuring a man whose name still haunts those of us unlucky enough to have seen him in the Hoops.

December 15 1999 was the fateful day when the boy from Brazil finally put pen to paper, and caused a million guffaws at the pronunciation of his surname. His signing had been touted for many a month. Celtic contract guru Jim Hone had travelled to South America to clinch the deal that would see the Brazilian national team centre half sign up in Glasgow.

Basically things went badly wrong from minute one.

He wasn’t fit, on the eve of his debut he was taken to hospital with appendicitis, he collided with a team mate in training, injuring himself quite seriously in the process and by the time he was due to actually make an appearance the manager who had signed him was back in punditry purgatory.

In his first six months in Scotland he had played less than 90 minutes of first team football.

Oh and there was small matter of a major scandal brewing in Brazil; apparently the national manager had been taking bungs from Brazilian league clubs to pick duds to play in meaningless friendly games, allegedly to seduce gullible European clubs into shelling out for a “Brazilian international”. Sound familiar?

And here is where we come to crux of the matter; Rafael Scheidt was hopeless. Speed, skill, and cunning – he lacked the lot.

Of course the alarm bells had started ringing pretty early on for most people. John Barnes had calmly stated that he was spending £5.6m on the basis on a video put together by the player’s agent. I’m sure most junior players could probably cobble together a video that would make them look like the next Johann Cruyff. Unfortunately, that don’t make it so.

Then it emerged that the games the footage had been taken from had been heavy defeats of the 4 or 5 nil variety. You couldn’t have scripted it – it just beggared belief.

When Martin O’Neill took charge he stated that he would give the Brazilian a chance, and indeed Rafael made an appearance in some pre-season friendlies and one or two of the early season League Cup games. But he never looked the part.

The fact that he was instrumental in leaking goals was bad enough, but when the opposition is of the calibre of Bray Wanderers you know your centre-back is going to struggle against the Del Pieros of the SPL.

It can’t do your confidence much good either when you’re dropped for a friendly against the mighty Sachsen Leipzig.

There are some apocryphal stories doing the rounds about what MON said to Rafael regarding his future prospects at Celtic, but the player himself in an interview in the Sunday Herald admitted that the Blessed Martin told him, “I like footballers who are not like you. I like footballers who play well.”

He was quietly shuffled back off to Brazil on loan, where apparently he became something of a big hit, a fact which probably said more about the state of league football in that country than about Rafael.

So how to summarise this absolute fiasco?

You couldn’t say it was a nail in Barnes’ coffin – he hadn’t even played by the time the axe fell – but you could certainly say it affected Barnes’ future employment prospects.

Rafael himself seemed completely unperturbed by the ridicule heaped upon him in Scotland, but I suppose you wouldn’t be either if you were getting the weekly wage he was pocketing.

When you consider that his ten appearances averages out at something in the region of half a million quid per game you begin to see the phrase “waste of money” in a completely different light.

We can laugh about it now after a few pints. A good few, to be honest.

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