The top three most heartbreaking departures I have suffered on Football Manager.
3. Ole Kristian Ommundsen This was on a version in about the mid-2000s. I was managing Exeter City and we were in League 1. Ole was a young Norwegian midfielder I had signed on a free transfer. He was listed as a DM, but was developing nicely into an all-action midfielder (dare I say like Steven Gerrard????). I had a great defensive midfielder by the name of Josip Milardovic in the team, so Ole was primarily a substitute, but he was getting game time and this was looking likely to increase over the coming season, with Milardovic’s workload gradually beginning to decrease. However, over the summer, I received a bid for £350,000 from Sheffield Wednesday. Seeing Ole as a key part of my future plans, I turned it down; however, the board felt the offer too good to refuse, intervened and sold him. A profit of £350,000 isn’t bad, but they had sold a player I felt was going to become very important to the club and I believed that I could have sold him for even more.
2. Michal Simcek Same version, same game, same summer. Michal was a striker I signed on a free transfer and he proved to be a great success. He scored plenty of goals and was a key part of the team. Unfortunately, I could not get him to sign a new contract and he ended up leaving us on a free to join a club in Spain. What made things worse was that when he signed for them, he was worth £1,000,000; I would have sold him for that, but to see him leave on a free and not receive a penny for a great player was heartbreaking.
1. Keylor Navas Same version, same game, same summer. A summer of seeing a really good team breaking up. Keylor was my keeper and what a keeper – signed on a free and won us several games with his fine goalkeeping. With him in goal, my defenders could always feel confident and I never had doubts over his form or performances – if he was fit, he played. As with Michal, he just would not sign a new contract with us. However, this was worse than Michal’s situation. Much worse. Keylor signed for another team for less money than he was on with us (and much less than we were offering him). Making it even worse, he took a step down, choosing to sign for a League 2 team. However, the worst part (and the reason why he definitely takes number 1 on this countdown), he left me to join fierce local rivals Plymouth Argyle. Seeing him at the 2014 World Cup reminded me of what a great signing I had made, but also brought back all those terrible memories of him deserting the club (and the manager) that gave him his big break in England.