When Matt Derbyshire was at the airport on his way to join Greek giants Olympiakos, his agent’s phone rang, offering him a move to Fulham instead.
Most English footballers would have headed for Craven Cottage. The vast majority would probably have never been booked on that flight to Athens in the first place.
But England Under-21 striker Derbyshire took the plunge ... and has returned to England 18 months later, having won the Greek League and Cup double, played in the Champions League, trained under the great Zico and netted the winner in one of the fiercest derbies in world football.
Derbyshire was on an initial loan agreement at Olympiakos when he became a cult hero with the club’s fanatical fans by coming off the bench to score twice in the 2009 Greek Cup Final against AEK Athens.
He even knocked himself out scoring a last-gasp equaliser and had to leave the field with concussion before Olympiakos won 15-14 in an epic penalty shoot-out after a 4-4 draw.
Derbyshire was then dubbed The English Killer – an unlikely nickname for a slender, likeable Lancashire lad.
He said: “About three-quarters of the population of Athens are Olympiakos fans, and I’d go to an awful lot of restaurants where people offered to pay for my dinner.
“That cup final was absolutely unbelievable, and the celebrations went on for weeks.
“Then there was the Olympiakos-Panathinaikos derby, which is such a fierce rivalry. When I scored the winner away from home against them, we got back to our training ground and it was mobbed with thousands of fans.”
While Derbyshire’s Greek odyssey was an overwhelmingly positive move, he admits there were problems – not least the turnover of managers.
He said: “The club went through six managers in 18 months when I was there. One of them was Zico, a very nice man, perhaps a bit too nice for his own good ... but he could still bend in a great free-kick in training!
Can you take a cut price striker and make him a Greek legend?
Load up Greece and any other countries and take over at Olympiakos
You must then sign an English striker for £3m/€3.5 or lower to be your English Killer
Other transfers are allowed.
The challenge will last for two seasons.
The points total will be your goals from the your designate striker in all comps (not friendlies), league points and goal difference from each season.
Usual rules apply.