At Rovers we have always prided our selves (even if others haven’t) on our long history of discovering and nurturing players from teen years through to becoming greats at the club. It is something we think is essential for the survival of any top team, and is a practice we will carry on into the future. Below we will list the discoveries we think defined/define the club but first one must define exactly what one thinks a “discovery” is.
Whichever way we answer that will only be in our humble opinion, but I would like to think of that opinion as an educated one. Some people would say “my discovery“ on a player who everyone already knows about but no one has taken for one reason or another. At Rovers we do not deem this as a discovery.
Case in point Ronaldinho was already known before he joined Rovers. Rovers was His first club but was discovered by the wanderes manager even though he never joined them. Likewise Peter schmeichel Joined Rovers and only played at rovers his entire Thia career. However At Rovers we would not count that as a discovery because everyone and their Grandad knew of peter so to claim “I discovered Peter schmeichel” is folly. One could argue I saw the value in Peter where others didn’t but to claim discovering him is a non-sense in our minds.
Like wise discovering a player and then selling them on quickly or loosing them before them having an impact on the team like, winning silver ware, or having a long run of influence over the team would in my mind disqualify them from being on the list of our Greatest Discoveries.
There have been so many Great players Discovered by our Elite scouting team like Samuel Eto who we discovered at 15 playing for Real Madrid, Francesco Totti who we discovered at 16, Owen Hargreaves who we saw playing in his first games for Bayern Munich, Pepe was discovered playing in a friendly for porto against Man U. Lucio, Huntelaar, Van Nistoolroy, Dida, Conceicao, Almeyda, Robinho, Paul scholes, Emerson , Ze Roberto The list goes on and on.
Sometimes we can get it wrong of course. The names Freddy Adu, Wampeta, Fabio Junior, Gil and Kerrison still haunt the clubs history.
There are though also players who’s talent was worthy of more praise, but timing , injury and or circumstance stopped things from progressing. Players Like Nilmar, Alex and Felipe come to mind. With Felipe in our minds still being one of the most talented players to ever play for the club. In Brazil he is still held up as one of their great talents to not make it to Europe.
However Below we list the our best 11 of them. The players who’s names will forever be connected with Rovers and who have defined what we are were and will become.
11. Clarence Seedorf.- One of the early signings to our club in the “paper” era. We saw a young Seedorf playing for Sampdoria and straight away saw the talent, energy and passing ability. He was signed along with Aldier and Christian Karembu, but the powers that were at the time ruled that Rovers were discovering too many Players and we had to choose between them. Angry as that rule made us we were used to being cheated and took it on the chin opting to keep Seedorf. His career after justified what we saw in the young player.
10. Javier Mascherano.- Part of the famous team of 06 that won the inaugural Easter Bash. Mascherano was discovered by our scouts playing for Corinthians in Brazil. His tenacity, ruggidness but smarts in the tackle and midfield were what struck us, but more so was the fact that he was a 20 year old Argentinian playing in brazil. A tough ask if you know anything of Brazilian/Argentinian relations. This was the selling point for us. He won a trophy in his first season with our club then went on to spend a large part of his career at United.
9.Karim Benzema – We discovered Benzema in a big stroke of luck. That day was luck for us and for Benzema. At the time we tuned in to watch Lyon play as our striker Fred was in the team and in good form. An injury to Fred meant Lyon were short a striker. In place of Fred came 18 year old winger Karim Benzema. Having not played upfront before at this level, Benzema scored two goals in that game. In the following weeks he carried on the scoring run and pretty much ended Freds Career at Lyon.
8. Andres Iniesta – Another member of the team of 06. Iniesta was a discovery of ours that had little fan fare apart from the confusion on our part that we didn’t understand why no one saw the talent in him that we saw. Going on in real life to become one of the most decorated players in history.He won the easter bash with us a played a big part in that team before moving on to united and then spending the large bulk of his career at City. Now back at the Rovers and an integral member of our championship winning side this year. He plans to finish his career where it started.
7. Arturo Vidal – The story of Vidal is still in the writing. He’s been an important member of the squad for the last 4 years, proving irreplaceable, and has captained the team to many a victory. Discovered playing for Leverkusen, Vidal embodies everything Rovers has asked of our midfielders historically in the mold of conceicao, ze Roberto, Hargreaves. Vidal will be a part of the Rovers story for years to come
6.Carlos Tevez – A favorite at Rovers, discovered along with Javier Mascherano at Corinthians over 10 years ago. One of the most important memebers of the team of 06 Easter bash winners. Played many games and scored so many goals for the club. Always welcome in the club house. His Career again has proven the eye for talent our club scouts have.
5. Thiago Silva – What can be said about this man? He is everything the club stands for. Captain, Leader, Winner. Discovered just after our easter bash win and a consistant member of the new Era at rovers. Lifted the Champions cup for us this season and still has a few more years of greatness in him. Along with Pepe he forms a formidable homegrown defence the club can be proud of
4.Fernando Hierro. – This is the man that Thiago Silva must emulate. Multiple cup winning captain of a team that dominated the last 2 years of the4 years of “paper era” Hierro revolutionized the way we approached the game. Following on form a role started by Hoddle at our club and moved forward by Gullet. Hierro perfected the job of Anchor man forming a base with Davids on one side and Conceicao on the other that made our Midfield pretty much impenetrable. Will go down in Rovers History as one of the greatest ever.
3. Neymar. Discovered at the age of 15 at Santos, Home to Pele and another club discovery Robinho. We new from the start that this was the player to take Rovers into the future. An old school Brazilian full of magic. At 24 Neymar has already been part of two championship winning Rovers sides and showed his worth dragging the club through their last semi final with genesis with 2 goals of his own. A once in a life time player and future Balon D’or. Never Leaving, Lifer.
2. Kaka When we discovered Kaka we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The speed and ball control of this 18 year old belied his lanky frame. We knew we had a winner. Other members of the Pep knew nothing of him but they would soon. Last Balon D’or winner before the Messi and Cristiano era, world player of the year, World cup Winner to name a few. Will forever be connected with Rovers.
1. Ronaldo. The greatest player to ever wear the Jersey, the greatest Player of the era before Messi, the greatest Pes sprite of all time. 3 time world player of the year, 3 time world cup finalist, two time world cup winner, 2 christmas bashses won, Captain of the team of 06. Top scorer in the paper era, greatest player of the paper era, youngest world player of the year of all time, youngest Balon D’or of all time. The accolades can go on and on. Ronaldo is our greatest player of all time. Our greatest discovery and a player that will forver be connected with the club. I remember watching Brazil play Ghana in the 96 olympics and seeing Ron score a goal from an impossible angle. I declared to the united manager who was watching with me. “This boy will be the best player in the world one day.” We were absolutely sure. And we were proven right. The only reason he came to the fore at our club is for the fact we were repossessed and had little resources to work with. We had to turn to a 17 year old Ronaldo who kept our club afloat with 20 goals that year along side Roberto Baggio. He then grew to become our greatest player and arguably the greatest player the Pep has ever seen. Now in a metorship role at the club helping Neymar and the like achieve their goals.