Eric Djemba-Djemba was signed from Nantes in 2003 for £3.5 million as a replacement for an aging Roy Keane. Once regarded as an exciting prospect in Europe, his career at Man United didn’t work out as expected. When the young Cameroonian joined, competition was tough, competing against the likes of Keane, Butt, Neville and Scholes for a place in the team. Djemba-Djemba was aggressive and quick but lacked composure on the ball. The highlight of his brief stint came when he scored a late looping volley against Leeds United. He clearly mishit the volley and the ball somehow bounced over Paul Robinson. The only other goal he managed to score was in a five nil win over Panathinaikos in the Champions League.
After 20 appearances in 18 months Ferguson shipped him off to Aston Villa where once again failed to live up to expectations. The transfer did little to restore his reputation and couldn’t start ahead of Steven Davis or Gavin McCann in midfield. In total, Djemba-Djemba appeared only 11 times for Villa before Martin O’Neill had enough. He had a semi-successful loan spell at Burnley for the 2006/2007 season, who were playing in the Championship at the time. Villa terminated his contract at the end of the 2007 season and was labelled as one of the biggest transfer flops in Premier League history. After Aston Villa, Eric left Europe and signed a contract with Qatar SC. He played one season in Qatar and prospered because the quality of opposition was well below the level in England.
In the Summer of 2008, he signed a three year contract with Danish team, Odense BK. Djemba-Djemba made his debut against ex-club Aston Villa where his side were ultimately knocked out of the Intertoto cup. A more mature and experienced player by now, he impressed Odense BK’s fans with his ability and was viewed as the best footballer in the Danish league. Fun fact, in 2009 he became the first player in Denmark to assist a goal with his sock. In 2010, he was linked with a transfer back to England with West Brom willing to give him another chance in the Premier League but the move broke down. Djemba-Djemba left the Danish outfit in 2011 after his contract wasn’t renewed.
Over the next two seasons Eric played a season for Hapoel Tel Aviv and 6 months in Serbia with Partizan. Aged 33 the country hopping journeyman joined Scottish minnows, St Mirren on a short-term deal hoping to reignite his international career. Disappointingly he only made three appearances and was released once again. Rather than retiring, he decided to continue and played for two teams based in Indonesia and Châteaubriant in France. As of 2018, he’s currently playing for Swiss club FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues, a side languishing in the fifth division.
He joins the long list of poor signings made by Alex Ferguson that failed to make an impact at Old Trafford. A list that includes Kleberson, Massimo Taibi, Bebe, David Bellion, Manucho and William Prunier. Despite a disappointing career at least he got the chance to play for the greatest club in the world. Something to tell the grandchildren!