Peter Odemwingie's Car And Alan Irwin's Ear: The Unique Madness Of Deadline Day

Nothing can quite prepare you for what can happen on deadline day
11:43, 31 Jan 2024

Transfer deadline day is almost here. A joyous day where you wake up hoping to unwrap a new 30-goal striker from the Dutch league but go to bed having watched tired presenters and ex-players who appeared 14 times for Stoke explain what a “deal sheet” is for 12 hours. It’s like Christmas but instead of presents and roast turkey you get pie charts about net spend and endless satellite links to fans in car parks being told Neymar won’t be signing for Aston Villa after all.

But it isn’t always sh*t. Sometimes the last day of the transfer window throws in nuggets of real gold. Moments that come to define one of football’s oddest rituals. Moments that keep us warm on the deadline days that get no more dramatic than Preston North End signing a left back on loan from Burton Albion at 11am.

We do not know what will happen before this transfer window slams shut (legally the only way to close a transfer window). But we are prepared for anything. Because, as the following examples show, anything can happen on deadline day.

The Great Berba Robbery/Robinho Joins Manchester (City)

The gold standard of transfer deadline days. Not content to buy players, Abu Dhabi United group bought an entire team on the last day of the 2008 summer window. Once their takeover of Manchester City was complete, they instantly set about turning a side that finished ninth previous season into world beaters.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov had looked certain to go to Manchester United all summer long. But suddenly, Spurs accepted a bid from the nouveau riche Cityzens. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson reacted with the calm, laidback attitude he always did when things didn’t go his way. Just kidding, he drove to Manchester airport to personally meet the player as he got off the plane and ensured Berbatov would be turning out for the red half of the city.

City did get a big name through the door though, as Robinho joined from Real Madrid. In the years since, he has admitted he thought he was signing for City’s bitter rivals at Old Trafford. Here’s how we imagine the conversation went down.

Sheikh Mansour: Fancy joining Manchester (whispering) City owned by Abu Dhabi (louder) United group?

Robinho: Manchester United?

Sheikh Mansour: Erm… yeah why not.

Dimitar Berbatovjpg

The Torres & Carroll Affair

Like you and I, the 2011 winter transfer deadline day is gonna live forever. Liverpool were at the centre of a day still used to justify calling in sick to work and watching Sky Sports News all day over a decade later. 

Liverpool’s star forward Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea for a British record £50 million fee. The Merseyside club had their eyes on the ideal replacement for the pacy and dynamic Spaniard: 6 foot 4 ponytail merchant Andy Carroll. But Newcastle United weren’t daft, they would not let their most popular number nine since Alan Shearer’s hair island last graced St James’ Park go without a hefty fee. Knowing Liverpool were flush with the Torres cash, they secured £35 million of it in exchange for Carroll.

So what did a combined £85 million worth of scoring talent go on to do at their new clubs? If you answered “scored a combined three Premier League goals during the second half of that season” then well done but also, you’re a nerd.

Carroll was not the only added firepower at Anfield that day though. A little-known Uruguayan by the name of Luis Suarez also joined that day. I wonder what happened to him…

Odemwingie Drives Into Infamy

The most famous sporting vehicular moment this side of OJ Simpson’s white Bronco. You know where this is going, but Odemwingie certainly didn’t on that January day in 2013.

The striker was plying his trade for West Bromwich Albion at that point. But Odemwingie did not plan on doing so for much longer. Queens Park Rangers had been in for him and the player was keen. So keen, in fact, that he drove over to Loftus Road to get the deal done.

The only problem was, West Brom had not accepted a bid from QPR. They never would. Odemwingie was left to wait in the car park for a transfer that would never happen, the only way to kill time being to deliver a wonderfully awkward interview to Sky Sports News. 

Odemwingie would eventually leave for Cardiff City the following summer. He scored two goals for the Welsh club, roughly 0.00000001 goals for every person that has laughed at the video of him turning up at Loftus Road in his car.

Sky Sports Redefine The Word ‘Earpiece’

Imagine the scene. You’re Alan Irwin, Sky Sports News’ roving reporter. It’s transfer deadline day, the big one. The day more people are watching than any other. And for once YOU are the star. Not the players, not the managers. No, today it is you, Alan, who takes centre stage. It is up to you to tell the fans what they want to hear; that they are signing a new player. 

You stand proudly ready to give the waiting world what it wants to hear; an update on Tom Cleverley’s situation. You feel something sliding into your ear as a cheer goes up behind you like the one made-up people do in tweets about Brexit-voting nans. You style it out. You’ve got this. You’re Alan f**king Irwin. You wrap up. “How was it, boys?” you ask your camera crew. “Alan, you’re not going to believe this mate.”

By now you recall the incident. An Everton fan inserted something in Irwin’s ear as he was delivering his piece to camera. A facsimile phallus. A prosthetic appendage. A synthetic gentleman sausage. A non-recyclable trouser-knuckle. A Boris Johnson. 

Irwin would later claim he thought the heaving purple mass disappearing down his lobe was a finger. Whose finger, Alan? Barney The Dinosaur? Come off it.

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