You can’t beat a cult hero.
While they may not necessarily be the team’s best player, they have entertained us nonetheless.
There’s no script or written rule on how to become a cult hero. Sometimes it can be down to a goal against a fierce rival; other times it could be down to having a bad haircut that fans want to imitate. However they achieve their status, they live in the fans’ memories.
In the 90s, an influx of foreign talent brought in characters from all over the world, and the players on this list provided us with some of the most insane goals and bizarre stories from that period. From Georgia to Colombia, mentioning these cult heroes’ names raises a wry smile even to this day.
Nicknamed “The Latvian Michael Owen”, Marians Pahars cost Southampton £800,000. Some may say a bargain figure for what he achieved. He will always be remembered for a brilliant solo goal at Old Trafford, in which he nutmegged Jaap Stam along the way.
Pahars became a manager after calling time on his football career; managing his country Latvia for four years, before most recently becoming the head coach of Serie D side Siena in 2021 which lasted only a month due to poor results.
Stefano Eranio was a surprise signing for Derby County from AC Milan in 1997, but became an instant hit. After four years at the club, he was voted into their all-time greatest XI.
Upon leaving Derby, Eranio went back to AC Milan as a youth coach before making the move to broadcasting.
He got involved in a racism row in 2015 after saying: “Black players, when they’re in a defensive line, often make certain errors because they’re not concentrating. They are physically strong, but when it comes to thinking about… they often make mistakes.”
He was sacked by his employees despite claiming his comments were misunderstood. He now runs his own soccer academy in Milan.
This magical Georgian was a delight to watch not just for Man City fans, but other fans too. His mazy, dribbled goals often saw him as a contender for goal of the month. Despite this, he couldn’t save Man City from relegation in 1998.
Kinkladze has been a busy boy since hanging up his boots. He owns a chain of leisure centres across Europe as well as a number of vineyards in Georgia, where he exports wine, whiskey, and prosecco.
Yeboah is possibly the most famous Ghanaian to have ever lived. He only ever scored worldies, with two standing out. The goals he scored against Liverpool and Wimbledon will live long in the memory of every Premier League fan.
When Yeboah knocked his playing days on the head, he became chairman of a Ghanaian football club and now owns a number of luxury hotels called Yegoala (his nickname).
Eyebrows were raised when Newcastle United signed Colombian Faustino Asprilla from Parma in 1996. He soon became a fan favourite – a position he consolidated after banging in a famous Champions League hat trick against Barcelona in 1997.
Since retiring, Asprilla has launched his own brand of condoms and during the 2020 pandemic, he provided 3.5 million contraceptives to help a global shortage via a fleet of drones.
Ali Dia was a fraud.
Then-Southampton manager Graeme Souness was hoodwinked into signing Dia believing he was George Weah’s cousin. After being subbed on for his debut, they soon realised his fake identity and hauled him off 40 minutes later.
Ali Dia has acquired a new persona and is apparently a successful businessman now.
The Nigerian striker only spent two seasons at Everton but became one of the most popular figures Goodison Park has ever seen. A late brace in an FA Cup semi-final win over Spurs in 1995 cemented his place as a fan favourite.
After retiring, Amokachi went into coaching, plying his trade in Nigeria and Finland. He is currently technical director at the Finnish second division side ‘JS Hercules’ as well as acting as the ambassador for the Nigerian FA.
Not just a cult hero, but an absolute legend at Elland Road. South African stalwart Lucas Radebe was ever-present in the Premier League’s 90s era.
Lucas currently runs his own sports consultation business and in May 2018, could be seen accompanying Boxer Josh Warrington on his ring walk in his world title fight against Lee Selby.