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    So kann man auch "Karriere" machen.

    French imposter Greg Akcelrod fools top European soccer team CKSA Sofia with bogus resume

    * Jonathan Clegg
    * From: The Wall Street Journal
    * April 13, 2010

    French imposter Greg Akcelrod was almost signed by Bulgarian football team CSKA Sofia with a bogus resume.

    LAST summer, CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria's most decorated soccer club, invited an intriguing prospect to train with the team.

    The player, a Frenchman named Greg Akcelrod, had been climbing the ranks of European soccer, signing with a top-flight Paris club and training with a team in Argentina. He had an agent and a Web site that showed him scoring a goal for the English club Swindon Town. He'd even been chosen as an ambassador for Lance Armstrong's charity.

    But after a few days of watching Mr Akcelrod flail about on the pitch, the team started to fear that his credentials had been faked. A spokesman says it became clear that the Frenchman was "not a real footballer."

    "If I lied a little bit on my CV, I am sorry - but I never took one euro from anybody," says Mr Akcelrod. "My only concern was to have a chance to show I can play at the top level." He adds: "I am just like 99% of my friends in France, who say on their résumé they can speak fluent English," he says. "In reality, they can't even count up to three.".

    What's surprising is that the 27-year-old events promoter not only managed to convince many people he was a legitimate player, he came about as close as an amateur can come to making a real pro team. And all it took was a lot of talk and a crude Web site with video clips and press clippings.

    The Professional Football Players' Observatory in Switzerland catalogs characteristics of about 10,000 pro soccer players in more than 450 clubs and 30 countries in Europe. Keeping track of them is beyond the capabilities of all but the richest clubs. There's a general fear that the next great star is out there for the taking. "You get hundreds of players recommended to you each month," says Ray Clarke, former chief scout at Glasgow Celtic. "Half of them just go on file, but you don't want to be the man who turned down the next Ronaldo."

    Mr Akcelrod's tale began 10 years ago, when he was playing for Becon les Granits, a district-league club on the edge of France's Loire Valley. Instead of waiting for scouts to discover him, Mr Akcelrod set about getting their attention. He says he auditioned for semipro teams after alerting them to a successful stint at Racing Club de Paris - but says he neglected to mention he'd only trained with its junior team.

    Three years ago, he took part in a charity exhibition game at Bournemouth, a club now in the fourth tier of English soccer, and later nabbed an invitation to a trial game for free agents. He scored in the match, but a watching manager told reporters at the time, according to press reports, that Mr Akcelrod couldn't cut it in English soccer. The interview never made it on to Mr Akcelrod's Web site - only the goal did.

    When he returned to France a couple of years earlier, online reports surfaced that Mr Akcelrod had signed for Paris Saint-Germain. Sure enough, pictures Mr Akcelrod says he posted on his Web site showed him in an authentic PSG jersey at the club's stadium. No mention was made that he'd really joined the club's amateur team, which plays in front of a few dozen spectators (A PSG spokesman says the team had never heard of him).

    Last year, when he bought a $1 yellow wristband in support of Lance Armstrong's Livestrong charity, Mr Akcelrod says he put out a fake online news release that claimed he had been chosen as an ambassador for the cause on account of his celebrity.

    In June 2009, according to a team spokesman, CSKA Sofia's then-coach, Luboslav Penev, got a call from an agent who advised him to offer a trial to Mr Akcelrod, who'd been training with Tigre's reserve team near Buenos Aires. "We don't take a lot of players on trial like this - maybe two or three per year," says CSKA Sofia spokesman Vladimir Roupov. "But we wanted to add some new players." After a couple of days, Mr Akcelrod says a CSKA supporter contacted a Paris Saint-Germain fans' Web site for information on the recruit and was told that the French fans had never heard of him.

    CSKA offers a different version of events. "The manager realized very quickly that he wasn't a good player," Mr Roupov says. Mr Akcelrod's stunt has turned him into a minor celebrity in France, where the press has picked up the story. He claims he has a chance to appear on a reality show and is in talks to write an autobiography, but he declined to offer specifics.

    He also hopes his fame helps him land a job in soccer. "In terms of marketing, I am someone very, very valuable," he says.

    The Wall Street Journal

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