The fake PSG player who nearly made it into the Champions League

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With the extensive number of scouts, coaches and sporting directors involved in a modern transfer, it's very difficult to fool clubs nowadays. 

Sure, new arrivals might disappoint or fail to live up to the bill.

We're unlikely to see a repeat of the strange case of Ali Dia, though, who former Southampton manager Graeme Souness signed believing him to be George Weah's cousin. 

Nonetheless, there are still some players out there who are so desperate to make it in the professional game they'll resort to trickery to carve out their own path. 

That leads us to the bizarre story of Gregoire Akcelrod, which has been reported in the Daily Mail. 

Akcelrod is described as a "fake footballer" who is actually a "bad player" in "France's worst amateur league". He was even banned from playing football by his own dad because he was so bad. 

Not according to his CV, though. A glittering resume suggested he was actually playing for PSG reserves and he even snuck onto the training pitch to take photos in full kit. 

He started his own website and would also copy and paste his name into top-flight match reports, replacing names like 'Nicolas Anelka' with his own.   

Some clubs were a little sceptical. After he wrote to Arsene Wenger requesting a trial at Arsenal, he was told that wasn't in the manager's power. Chelsea and Manchester City also said no. 

But Swindon, Norwich and Bournemouth did offer him a trial, as did Scottish sides Falkirk and Dundee United. 

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Finally, in 2009, CSKA Sofia - who had just qualified for the Champions League - actually offered him a three-year deal on £15,000 a month. Incredible. 

Sadly, he was rumbled when a Sofia fan took to a PSG forum online to ask for some information about the new player. That was when PSG fans realised the fraud that had occurred and contacted journalists in Bulgaria. 

The question, we hear you ask, is why he did all this? 

A mission to prove his dad wrong

Recalling how he was dismissed by his father after he saw him play, and was banned from playing between the ages of 10-18, Akcelrod recalled how he wanted to prove his dad wrong.

"We played against a good team and we lost 4-0," he told the Mail. "When we were in the car on the way back he said, 'Greg, I am so upset. You are so bad. You are so lazy. I don't want to see you anymore on a football pitch.'

"I was shocked. Being with my friends on the football pitch was the best time of my week."

Recalling his trials at Swindon, he added: 

"On the first day of the trial I was so unfit physically and tactically I was lost. 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."

Fortunately, the story does have a happy ending. The former striker now works in football as an agent specialising in helping youngsters to get into academies - perfectly legitimately, and without resorting to desperate measures. 

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