90′s Time Tunnel: Paulo Wanchope

July 21, 2012 in Features, Premier League by Matty Deller

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This week in the ’90′s Time Tunnel’, we go for a striking dynamo, the Costa-Rican powerhouse, often the scourge of Manchester United. This week, we look at Paulo Wanchope.

Starting his career in his native Costa Rica, he moved to Derby County alongside his compatriot Mauricio Solís. He cost them £600,000. My, oh my, would that prove to be a bargain. On his debut, he started against the might of Manchester United, the Premier League champions. He then went and did this.

Gliding past four defenders, before slotting his shot superbly beyond Peter Schmeichel to lead the Rams to a 3-2 win at Old Trafford; not bad for a debut, eh? That was also named the greatest ever goal in the club’s history for their 125th anniversary. Again, not bad. The fans instantly fell in love with his skill and eye for goal, and he responded by netting 28 times in 83 games in his two-season stint at Pride Park. He then moved to West Ham for £3.5 million in 1999.

He made his debut in the Intertoto cup against Heerenveen. I miss that cup, it was so wonderfully pointless (it had three finals, Fulham won it once - say no more). His first goal for the club came in the away leg of this tie. He was only at Upton Park for one season, but he formed a deadly partnership with Paolo Di Canio. P-squared bagged thirty-one goals in the 1999/2000 season, guiding them to ninth place in the Premier League. Paulo then moved to Manchester City for £3.65 million, after Frederic Kanoute and Davor Suker arrived at West Ham. Decent trade.

He instantly commanded a starting berth for Citeh, but couldn’t stop them from going straight back down to Division One in 2001. He spent a lot of the 2001/2002 injured, but still scored twelve goals in fifteen games for the club. They went straight back up at Division One champions, but missed their entire first season in the top flight through injury. He then returned in 2003/2004, scoring six goals in 22 games to help them avoid relegation. He is also remembered for screaming into a TV microphone after scoring against Southampton. True story.

His Premier League journey ended in 2004 when he moved to Spanish side Malaga, where he scored the goal of the season against Numancia. Then followed moves to Al-Gharrafa in Qatar, Herediano in his native Costa Rica, Rosario Central in Argentina, Toyko FC and Chicago Fire, before calling time on his career in 2007.

His plans right now are to become a coach and move back to England. Any club would be lucky to have his striking skills being applied to the stars of tomorrow. But right now, he is remembered as a deadly striker wherever he went, and when he scored…boy, did you know about it.