Some people would do anything to become a professional footballer. Such is the case of Gregoire Akcelrod, who deceived Europe’s elite clubs – including one that would play in the Champions League – who gave him the opportunity after he sent them a fake CV.
At the age of 10, the Frenchman was like any young boy with a big dream. The only problem was that he was terrible in football. His father thought the same.
Young Akcelrod tricked clubs like Norwich, Bournemouth and Swindon into offering him evidence, and he even received an offer to play European football for CSKA Sofia – all this creating a fake site claiming he was a star Next.
Akcelrod, born in Paris, gave his story to Sportsmail: ‘I played my first game in front of my father when I was 10 years old. It was like the Champions League final for me. We played against a good team and lost 4-0. When we were in the car on the way home, he said, “Greg, I’m very upset. You play very badly. You are lazy. “I no longer want to see a football field.”
“I was shocked. “Playing with my friends on the football field was the best period of the week,” said Akcelrod.
Between the ages of 10 and 18, Akcelrod stopped playing football because he was weak.
He only played in his garden, but did not give up on his dream of playing professional football – mainly because he wanted to tell his father that he was wrong.
One day at school, he had an idea – Akcelrod created a fake site claiming he was a professional player and playing for PSG reserves.
He took match reports from the newspaper L’Equipe and removed the name of the star striker – such as Nicolas Anelka – and replaced him with his own.
The information was not a complete lie as Akclerod was playing for PSG, but for the club’s most amateur team, playing at the last level of French football – a level he describes as “the worst in France”.
“You can be like Cristiano Ronaldo in the fifth team and nobody is watching you. “Nobody looked at me at PSG because that team was created just to run,” he said.
At this age, Akcelrodi was separated from his wealthy family by choosing football, yesterday not education, or a proper career.
As a 19-year-old Frenchman, whose grandmother inherited a fortune from Oscar-winning actor Maurice Chevalier, after a 15-year marriage, she was working at McDonalds and living in a small apartment in France.
During this time he was hiding in the field of PSG. a day to take ‘official’ photos with the PSG jersey. His website and CV were then sent to some of the most popular clubs in England.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal rejected him, but second-tier Swindon Town gave him a chance in the summer of 2003.
“On the first day of rehearsals I was not physically and factually well, I was lost.”
“In the test match between the team, the goalkeeper hit a long ball, I tried to hit him with my head, but he hit me in the face. “Everyone laughed,” Akcelrod recalled.
Swindon were not the only top-level club to be persuaded by Akcelrod’s deception and offered evidence.
Bournemouth’s financial problems in the early 2000s prompted the Frenchman to train with them for a week in their campaign where Akcelrod even scored a goal in the friendly but had no contract with him.
He returned to Swindon once again, where in a pre-season match the Frenchman scored two goals.
Coach Paul Sturrock refused to take him even though the fans had begged him a lot.
His two-goal appearance was captured by Sky Sports cameras and caused Norwich to open the door for him, but his poor showing in a reserve team friendly led to his rejection again.
There were offers for him, but he refused. Professional clubs from Luxembourg offered Akcelrod a contract, but the Frenchman turned them down – as they were too ‘small’ for him.
But the right offer almost came in the summer of 2009, when Akcelrod began training with the Bulgarian team CSKA Sofia, which had just qualified for the Champions League.
Convinced that he was a PSG reserve player, CSKA offered him a three-year contract worth ,000 15,000 a month – but a series of unfortunate events involving the club’s fans led the Bulgarian club to reveal deception of the attacker.
“I did the two-day test and on Sunday the coach told my agent he wanted to sign with me.”
“They take my photos with the official CKSA jersey, I signed the contract, they published it on the CSKA website that I was signing.”
“But it was PSG fans who destroyed me. During the night, a CSKA Sofia fan contacted a PSG online forum and asked: “We are ready to sign Greg Akcelrod, what do you think of him?”
“All the PSG fans did not know me. They said I was fake after they checked my site. “But some of them were real, videos in Swindon, for example.”
“The CSKA fan contacted every journalist in Sofia and it was revealed that the club would sign a fake player,” he said.
When Akcelrod came down for breakfast on Monday, no one at the CSKA club wanted him and we asked him to return to France.
The Frenchman had also done rehearsals in Greece, Kuwait and Canada, while for a year he played for the Mississauga Eagles in the Canadian first division that was enough for him to complete his story.
Akcelrod now has a career in football, but not as he planned.
The Frenchman is now the agent of young players trying to get into football academies – without using the tactics he used.
The 38-year-old has also written an autobiography.
Akcelrod admits he regrets certain aspects of his short career.
“I have never stolen a penny in clubs. I always pay for my hotel and my flights. “Clubs have lost some time, but sometimes it does,” he said. /Telegraph/