ROOTED to the underside of the Scottish Premier League desk, St Mirren wanted a stroke of luck and a contact of genius to make sure survival.
Martin O’Neill’s Celtic had been cruising to the title whereas Mirren boss Tom Hendrie was determined to signal a goalscorer for the ultimate three months of the season.
A day earlier than switch deadline day, Hendrie obtained an sudden name from Brazil with a well-known Scottish accent on the opposite finish.
Ronaldinho’s agent was on the road… somebody had answered Hendrie’s prayers.
The 12 months was 2001 and a brand new Samba star had surprised Brazilian soccer whereas taking part in for Gremio.
French giants Paris Saint-Germain moved shortly, agreeing a pre-contractual settlement for the 21-year-old for £15million.
However the season in Brazil was over and Ronaldinho was technically out of contract till he moved to the French capital – cue the weird second Hendrie virtually pulled off considered one of soccer’s craziest transfers in historical past.
He started: “We had been 24 hours away from making it occur,
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“The agent was a St Mirren supporter and he stated that he had acquired in contact with PSG ask if they might they be prepared to convey Ronaldinho and discover him a membership within the Premier League in Scotland for the final three months of the season.
“He (the agent) had been concerned within the Gremio switch and stated that the participant wasn’t glad that Ronaldinho wasn’t taking part in.
“Ronaldinho was a younger lad, he wasn’t the star that he grew to become however definitely we had been positively making an attempt to get somebody to maintain us within the Premier League to attain objectives for us.
“It gave the impression to be a win-win scenario for everybody. PSG had been proud of it as a result of they thought him coming over right here and climatising to European soccer can be good for the younger boy.”
St Mirren and Hendrie labored tirelessly to get the deal over the road earlier than deadline on midnight March 31st.
Obstacles had been in the best way. They wanted Gremio to launch the star and the Brazilian FA to signal the papers to substantiate Ronaldinho was a PSG participant earlier than finishing the mortgage deal.
Hendrie added: “The entire thing gave the impression to be on the playing cards. We acquired in contact with the house workplace, they acquired in contact with the membership in Brazil and the house workplace stated the deal would undergo on paper.
“We agreed with PSG with the kind of lodging to offer him, provided him a automobile and agreed to pay him an analogous wage to what we had been paying our personal gamers which was nominal in comparison with what they had been paying.”
With Ronaldinho braced to play in entrance of 5,000 followers at St Mirren’s former floor Love Avenue Stadium and prepare on random pitches of discipline scouted by a coach every morning, the deal hit a hitch.
The previous boss revealed: “What truly occurred was Brazil had been taking part in a recreation and the Brazilian FA had shut down, no person works they had been all watching a recreation of soccer and we simply ran out of time.
“It simply fell down on the truth that the Brazilian FA couldn’t do it in time due to that match. It was too late and we ran out of time. The Scottish FA wouldn’t settle for the registration after March 31st.
“I might say we had been 24-48 hours that’s how shut we had been. We had been actually shut.
“It could have gone down as one of the crucial shocking and unbelievable transfers soccer has ever seen.
“It was a novel set of circumstances, the very fact he wasn’t taking part in, the very fact he was a PSG participant as a result of he’d signed a pre-contractual settlement and the agent occurred to be from Paisley.
“That’s only a fluke. Numerous fluky issues had been all chained collectively. It could have been unbelievable to tug it off.
“In hindsight, we had been dissatisfied it didn’t occur, however we didn’t realise simply how good he was in later years.
“He was an absolute star and he would make such a distinction for us. He was clearly a great participant and an under-21 worldwide so there have been heaps to be enthusiastic about getting him to the membership however we by no means realised the expertise he was.”
Ronaldinho’s sensational profession shortly flourished and he was later topped the world’s greatest footballer simply 4 years after his failed transfer to St Mirren and an icon in his native nation.
His retirement this week ended an period that noticed Ronaldinho win titles for AC Milan, Barcelona and elevate the World Cup in Brazil’s well-known yellow jersey in 2002.
For St Mirren, a late surge of type noticed them lose simply considered one of their final seven matches however is wasn’t sufficient to outlive relegation.
It was all the time be a case of ‘what if’ for Hendrie and the way he virtually pulled off one of the crucial exceptional transfers ever.