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The Premier League is truly like no other. It is often seen as the promised land by footballers in search of fame and a lucrative pay cheque.
Only in England can a player emerge from the obscure Egyptian Premier League and morph into Ronaldo Nazario for six months before packing it in and heading back.
The yo-yo nature of the league means that there are often smaller clubs looking to unearth a gem and take a chance on a complete unknown. It’s a risk, but sometimes it pays off.
Then there are the bargain signings which catch everyone by surprise and when they succeed, end up giving their clubs a healthy profit from their sale.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and that applies to nomadic strikers who are always looking for their next move. Who knows where one season of magic could help you end up.
Mirror Football looks at the five Premier League players who stole the limelight for their 15 minutes of fame, before trudging off into the shadows after rapidly losing their touch.
Amr Zaki shone in his first six months at Wigan
No player meets the definition of one season wonder better than Zaki.
The Egyptian was a relatively-unknown quantity before Wigan boss Steve Bruce signed him on a season-long loan from Zamalek in the 2008-09 season. But based on his early performances, it was baffling how no one had picked him up.
The striker notched five goals in his first six games and at one point was only behind Nicolas Anelka and Robinho in the scoring charts, such was his sharp finishing in front of goal.
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However, towards the end of the season Zaki’s goals started to dry up and when he failed to return on time from international duty, he fell foul of Bruce and picked up a fine of two weeks’ wages.
Wigan decided against making his move a permanent one but he would return to the Premier League in January 2010 for a loan spell with Hull City. After six games and no goals, he returned to Egypt, perhaps knowing he had failed to grasp his opportunity.
Roque Santa Cruz
Roque Santa Cruz scored 19 goals for Blackburn in the 2007-08 campaign
(Image: 2008 AFP)
With over 200 appearances for Bayern Munich under his belt, Santa Cruz decided to bring his talents to the Premier League with Blackburn pulling off a coup after securing him for £3.5million.
And what a signing it was. Christmas came early for Rovers as Santa Cruz delivered a goal on his debut, coming off the bench to score against Middlesbrough.
That set the tone for his clinical finishing in front of goal and he completed the season with 19 goals — only Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and Emmanuel Adebayor scored more — as Blackburn finished seventh.
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But injuries took their toll on the towering striker and despite only finding the net four times in the 2007-08 season, he earned a £17.5m switch to Manchester City to reunite with Mark Hughes.
He never got going at City though and even a loan back to Blackburn in 2010 couldn’t reignite the spark from his debut campaign. Spells at Real Betis, Malaga and Cruz Azul followed but the goals had dried up.
Incredibly, at the age of 39 he is still playing in his native Paraguay for Olimpia and his record of 66 goals in 148 games for the club suggests that maybe he hasn’t lost his touch after all.
Papiss Cisse scored a memorable goal for Newcastle as he netted 13 goals in his first 14 games
(Image: 2012 Newcastle United)
There was one season where Papiss Cisse was unplayable in the Newcastle shirt, as Chelsea found out the hard way.
Signed as a replacement for Demba Ba, who ironically joined the Blues, the Senegalese took to the Premier League with a duck to water.
He had earned a reputation for scoring after an impressive record while playing for Freibury and the £9m man needed no time adjusting to life in England, bagging 13 goals in his first 14 Premier League matches in 2011-12.
His goals helped the Toon finish in fifth position in the Premier League and his wonder strike against Chelsea will be immortalised in Premier League history. But Cisse’s form soon dropped off, managing only eight goals in 36 games the next season.
He eventually left Newcastle for Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng in 2016 and two years later signed for Turkish side Alanyaspor where he found form again.
Now 36, he was recently released by Fenerbahce and is a free agent.
Michu could have joined Arsenal after an impressive first season with Swansea with 18 goals
Remember when Swansea were actually a top side, coached by Brendan Rodgers and then Brian Laudrup?
Well, one of the stars of Laudrup’s reign was signing Michu from Rayo Vallecano for just £2m. The lanky striker arrived in the Premier League without much of a reputation but soon showcased his talents.
He made a fine impression with a brace on his debut against QPR as the Swans ran riot with a 5-0 win.
He continued his fine scoring run to rise to the top of the scoring charts and in January, Swansea rewarded him with a new four-year deal to ward off interest from clubs such as Arsenal.
Michu ended his debut campaign in England with 18 goals and an EFL Cup winner’s medal after scoring against Bradford City in the final.
The Swans faced a battle to keep the star in the summer but after turning down offers of £20m, he stayed with the Welsh outfit. A chronic ankle injury hampered his second season at the club and managed to score only twice, leaving his future in doubt.
In 2014, he left to join Napoli on loan but made only six appearances and was eventually released by the club a year later. After spells with Langreo and his hometown club Oviedo, he hung up his boots in 2017.
Benjani left Portsmouth for Manchester City in 2009
When Arsene Wenger recommends a player, you sign him. Just look at the long list of players he missed out on, after all.
Benjani was one of those on the legendary Frenchman’s list and Harry Redknapp didn’t need to ask twice, paying £4m to capture the Zimbabwean forward from Auxerre in 2006.
Remarkably, Redknapp’s protege didn’t actually score in his first 14 games after joining Portsmouth and struggled to acclimatise to life in England.
But the one goal he did score turned out to be crucial in helping the club avoid relegation and with a full pre-season under his belt, he found his feet in front of goal.
In the 2007-08 season, Benjani was red hot with 12 goals in 23 appearances and that caught the attention of big-spending Manchester City. His deadline-day switch was left in tatters after he missed two planes to Manchester but five days later, the deal was done for £7.5m.
It was claimed Benjani didn’t even want to leave but couldn’t resist the money on offer — and he truly struggled to capture the form he showed at Fratton Park.
A Manchester derby goal against Man United at Old Trafford aside, the move was a disaster and after four goals in 23 games, he left on loan for Sunderland.
He later went on to join Blackburn and even headed back to Portsmouth for one season in 2010-11. After returning to Africa for the final days of his playing career, he can now be found coaching Evercreech Rovers in Somerset.
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