Birmingham City have made an audacious bid to sign Chelsea great John Terry.
Blues manager Harry Redknapp confirmed on Thursday morning he has made an offer to the 36-year-old.
It was a revelation that sparked excitement among huge numbers of Birmingham supporters who are now anxiously waiting to see if the deal will reach fruition.
If it does Blues will have secured their most high profile signing since the transfer which brought Christophe Dugarry to St Andrew’s a decade-and-a-half ago.
Blues writer Brian Dick looks back at those halcyon days.
Who was Christophe Dugarry?
A World Cup winner, just the second to play for Birmingham City in their long history. Alberto Tarantini was the first in 1978.
He pedigree was as immaculate as his touch. Having come through the youth system at Bordeaux he earned a move to AC Milan and Barcelona – with whom he won La Liga in 1998.
But a few months later – and most notably, he was part of the French squad which won the world title for the first time in the country’s history. They followed that up at the 2000 European Championships.
Dugarry was a divine footballer. A physically strong attacker with a faultless touch who was strong on the ball and powerful in the air too. He looked and played every inch the world champion.
Why did Blues need him?
Steve Bruce’s men were midway through their first Premiership season – and first in the top flight since 1986.
Having been promoted through the play-offs they were favourites to go straight back down – and although the campaign was not proving to be quite as arduous as the nay-sayers suggested, Birmingham needed a boost.
They were 15th in the league after the New Year’s Day loss to Leeds United – seven points above the drop zone but having scored only 19 goals from their 22 games. They needed a spark.
So what did they do?
They were made aware that Dugarry was available at Bordeaux. There weren’t masses of suitors but Bruce spent a couple of weeks working on his man. And sold him the dream.
On January 2, 2003 a 30-year-old Dugarry joined Birmingham on loan for the rest of the season.
What did Steve Bruce say?
He could barely contain his glee – and why would he? Blues had pulled off an incredible coup.
We are delighted that he has chosen us,” Bruce said. “To have someone of his credentials is a massive, massive thing for us.
“Once I had met him – two weeks ago – he shook my hand then and said he would like to come. He has been true to his word.
“It is the biggest signing this club has ever made. When you consider 75 caps for France over the last decade shows magnitude. He is a World Cup winner, and has played for Barcelona and AC Milan.
“I think he will be a great favourite. He wears his heart on his sleeve and his talent will not go unnoticed.”
What did Dugarry say?
Speaking through an interpreter the Frenchman said: “I have played in Italy and in Spain. Now I would like to play in the Premiership. For me this is a very good thing.”
What was the fans’ reaction?
They were slightly more effusive. Much as there is over the Terry situation there was a general disbelief that someone of his calibre could be tempted to Birmingham City.
If there were question marks over his form at the time, he hadn’t had a great season with Bordeaux – and his ability to transfer his style to English football, the general excitement swept them away.
What effect did he have?
His quality was apparent from the first moment but fans had to wait a couple of months for him to hit the goal trail.
Blues were 17th and just four points from safety when he scored for the first time, on April 7, 2003 in a 2-0 home victory over Sunderland.
The touchpaper had been lit and Dugarry rattled off five goals in four games and against Southampton later that month produced arguably one of the best performances ever in a Birmingham shirt, when he inspired them to a 3-2 victory.
The love affair was in full swing.
And on the final day of the season, with Blues 13th in the table Dugarry signed a new two-year deal on the pitch ahead of the final home game with West Ham.
Unfortunately it was never as good again, Dugarry became listless and his form and fitness waned. He saw out the 2003/2004 season before leaving. The flame that had burned so bright had flickered out.
Better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. Dugarry is one of the most fondly-remembered players in club history because of his own outrageous skill and the way in which he inspired Blues to safety in their first Premiership season.
The stars were aligned for a short time – but aligned they were.
If John Terry chooses Blues and can have anything like the same impact, perhaps by playing a leading role in a promotion campaign, he could find himself similarly loved.
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Source : BirminghamMail