6 Rubbish Footballer-Endorsed Video Games

Two-bob eight-bit software.
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Two-bob eight-bit software.
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Footballers are always looking for an opportunity to align their name with a quality brand to strengthen their reputation, but if that’s not possible then they’ll happily sign up to promote any old crap as long as there’s a few pound notes knocking about.

These days we tend to take the quality of football video games for granted, but simulations weren't always as thrilling and realistic as the FIFA and Football Manager series.

Back in the day, football games were a little more basic. If you were a software company that had produced a real stinker, then it was relatively inexpensive option to pay for a footballer's name to be emblazoned on the front cover, to guarantee that it sold.

Here are the six worst footballer-endorsed video games.

6. O'Leary Manager 2000 - 2000

Platform: Gameboy Colour

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Had Ubisoft signed up Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger to have their face slapped on the front cover of this football player-manager game, it would no longer seem like such an ancient relic from another time.

Instead they plumped for Leeds United's David O'Leary, who was then an up and coming manager who appeared to have the football world at his feet. Cut to fifteen years later and you might be mistaken for thinking that the object of this game was to become unemployed for several years.

In fact the game was a managerial simulation where you could also play in the 2D, top-down perspective matches. The title wasn't a total failure, but was rather spoilt by a bug that ensured that if your club went into a certain amount of debt, you would magically find £70m in the bank.

Perhaps O'Leary was expecting that to happen when he was in charge of Leeds.

5. Pele II: World Tournament Soccer - 1994

Platform: Sega Megadrive

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Not exactly hot on the heels of the 1981 Atari game Pele's Soccer, came Pele II: World Tournament Soccer for the Sega Megadrive. I'm not sure about you, but I don't think that they needed to add the 'II' part. Who exactly is going to get confused between two games released 13 years apart on completely different consoles?

Like many a football game before it and since, Pele II suffered from a lack of official licensing. This game was released to tie-in with the 1994 World Cup, but whilst it featured all the 24 competing nations, only US Gold's rival title World Cup USA '94 had the license to use the players' names.

Which goes some way to explain why Pele II featured players with such stereotyped monikers, as the Republic of Ireland's Brian O'Brien and the wonderfully-named Italian star, Goggles Pisano.

4. Gazza's Super Soccer - 1989

Platform: Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, ZX Spectrum

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If there's one thing that Paul Gascoigne has always remained, it's different. His officially licensed computer game Gazza's Super Soccer was no exception. Unlike every other football simulation ever made, the game featured no scrolling across the pitch.

The pitch was instead split into three sections. The midfield saw a side view of the middle of the pitch, but as soon as the ball went towards either goal, a new screen would appear with the goal at it's top.

As you can imagine, it was a disorientating experience akin to seasickness. Gascoigne also gave his name to the sequel, entitled Gazza II, which this time featured scrolling but still managed to be utterly rubbish.

3. Brian Clough's Football Fortunes - 1987

Platform: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum

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I think it's fair to say that Brian Clough probably wasn't a big gamer, so you would imagine that he just trousered the cheque and just let the manufacturers CDS Software get on with knocking out this frankly weird computer game.

What was strange about Brian Clough's Football Fortunes was that you didn't just play the game on your computer. It was a sort of hybrid managerial simulation/board game, which came complete with board, counters and fake money.

Unsurprisingly it wasn't a great success. A board game is traditionally played on a table or the floor in your living room, but back in the eighties your computer and accompanying 'portable' TV, normally lived in your bedroom. An ill-conceived concept.

2. Glen Hoddle Soccer - 1985

Platform: Amstrad CPC

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How is it possible to sign a licensing deal for a well known footballer to give his name to a computer game and still manage to spell that name incorrectly?

That's exactly what Amsoft managed to do when they signed up Glen(n) Hoddle to front their rather awful football simulation, in a move that gave a clue as to how little future Spurs chairman Alan Sugar knew about the club.

The reason it was so bad is because of the method used to choose which player you control. Rather than automatically giving you control of the player nearest the ball, you were required to click on the fire button to select your man.

Unfortunately the game would frequently select the wrong player, leaving you powerless to stop the computer controlled opponents from scoring.

1. Peter Shilton's Handball Maradona - 1987

Platform: Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum

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Following England's heartbreaking exit from the 1986 World Cup at the cheating hand of Diego Maradona, you might have thought that our beaten team would just want to forget about the incident.

Well that certainly wasn't Peter Shilton's way of thinking as the keeper who somehow managed to be out-jumped by a pudgy Argentinian midget, decided to cash in on the experience by lending his name to Grandslam's Peter Shilton's Handball Maradona.

As you'd expect from a hastily put together attempt to cash in on England's failure, the game wasn't up to much. Rather than controlling the whole team, you were merely in control of the goalkeeper in games that looked like they were being played on the moon.

Your team would score goals at random - which you didn't even get to see onscreen - leaving you to save shots from the opposition's forwards and secure victory. With only single matches available, rather than league or cup competitions, there was very little to keep you coming back for more. 

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