One man almost realised his dream of playing Champions League football – and would have realised it if his CV had not been discovered as fake.
Grégoire Akcelrod had wanted to play football since he was 10 years old but was so bad that his own dad banned him from playing.
He did not give up, though, eventually playing for PSG’s amateur side in fifth-tier French football – and this experience formed the base of his elaborate plan.
The amateur footballer decided to create a fake website claiming he was with the Ligue 1 champions’ reserves, copying newspaper match reports that featured forward Nicolas Anelka’s name to paste his own in.
Sending it to English clubs, he managed to get trials at Swindon, Norwich and Bournemouth.
This saw CSKA Sofia come knocking in 2009, offering him a three-year deal after qualifying for the Champions League.
But Akcelrod’s secret got out, telling Daily Mail : “I did the two day trial and on the Sunday the coach told my agent that he wanted to sign me.
“They took photos of my in the CKSA official jersey, I signed the contract, they published on the CSKA website that I was signing.
“But it was the PSG fans who destroyed me. Overnight, one CSKA Sofia fan contacted a PSG online forum and asked, "We are about to sign Greg Akcelrod, what do you think about him?"
“All the PSG fans didn't know me. They said I was fake, they checked my website. But some of it was true, the video at Swindon for example.”
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Ackelrod’s dad had banished him from playing the game after watching him aged 10, cutting off from the family when he chose football over education at 19.
And this was a big decision, with his grandma inheriting a fortune from Oscar-winning actor Maurice Chevalier.
Working in McDonalds and playing for PSG’s amateur side, he decided to take things into his own hands.
It even saw him sneak into the Parc des Princes to take photos that made him appear an up-and-coming star.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea did not take the bait – but Swindon did in 2003, only needing one day to realise the mistake.
Describing himself as “unfit physically” and “lost”, Ackelrod said: “In the practice game, the goalkeeper hit a long ball, I tried to head it but it hit me square in the face. Everybody laughed.”
While he was given 20 minutes on the pitch in a practice game – but he went one better with Bournemouth.
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Spending a week with them in their 2007 pre-season campaign, he managed to score in a friendly.
After scoring two on a return to Swindon – which was filmed by Sky Sports – he spent a period with Norwich’s reserves but was soon rejected due to his poor performance.
Following the near miss in Bulgaria, Ackelrod decided to turn his attention to being an agent and he helped young players get into academies.
Gregoire Ackelrod’s autobiography “Pro at All Costs” was released in January 2021 and is available now in French.
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