The guy became a PSG player for five hours
French publications believed the schoolboy’s joke
On April 1, it’s hard to fool someone with fake news. But in July, when there are a lot of transfers every day, it’s easier to announce a transition that couldn’t have happened. Raphael, 16, stopped by the Toulouse club store with a friend. The famous club had just returned to Ligue 1 to face Messi, Mbappe and Neymar in the new season. Rafa purchased a purple jersey. Next, we went to the team’s stadium, which was not far from the store.
As happens with teenagers, curiosity won out. We saw that one of the entrances to the arena was open, so we climbed into the stadium to take pictures. The boys thought they would simply run away if caught by security. Raphael had his picture taken with a friend wearing Toulouse’s new season jerseys. The club personnel saw them, but they did not swear or kick them out. On the contrary, they decided to give them a little tour. Plus to the karma of these people, in Moscow they could have called the police.
After all the adventures, the young men decided to play a prank on their friends and Toulouse fans. They sent out photos of Rafa from the stadium wearing a club t-shirt to the fan groups of the “kids”. The point of the joke was that Rafael Fernandez is the full namesake of the guy from PSG Academy, born in 2006. On the second day, he was surprised to read that Toulouse had signed a contract with a 16-year-old boy from the Parisian club. But teenagers do not look alike at all!
PSG’s Rafa Fernandez is a dark-haired, tanned brunette with a potato nose, while his namesake from Toulouse is a brown-haired man with a mop of hair. The editors of the newswires of the leading French media would not have thought that teenagers could play such a prank on them. And for a while, Toulouse fans believed that their club had snatched a talent from the U-16 team of the Parisian champion. We had to intervene Loïc Tanzi, a French insider, who denied the transfer.
The guy himself explained the hoax on social media and expressed regret that he had been a professional soccer player for about five hours before the hoax was revealed. In the age of the Internet, fakes are incredibly plentiful, but most can be easily verified. What was going on in the past when it was so easy to find the right information? There was another impostor at PSG, and a more assertive and malicious one than Rafael Fernandez. He had devoted years of his life to deception!
Grégoire Axelrod, the new Zinédine Zidane from the diner
Little Grisha was a terrible soccer player. When he first started kicking the ball, his father felt such shame that he forbade the boy to touch the ball for a long time. Parents can be cruel. Perhaps the kid would have learned over time to run around the field with the ball, but after the 0:4 defeat, Axelrod was told to stop playing. And after a good father called him lazy and untalented. As a result, the boy left the soccer section until adulthood played only with friends in the yard.
Gregoire grew up, and in parallel the popularity of the Internet grew up. The guy decided to deceive the world – he created a personal page, where he introduced himself as a PSG reserve player. In order to convince everyone that such a professional young player existed, he stole reports of real matches and changed the names of real players there for his own. Once he played exactly as Nicolas Anelka himself. Next, the impostor needed proof for future clubs, so he repeated Fernandez’s trick.
The guy lived in Paris, snuck into PSG’s training base and took a series of photos there in the club’s uniform. Axelrod had a falling out with his wealthy kin at the age of nineteen and worked at McDonald’s. He later told me that his grandmother had made a fortune after a 15-year marriage to the famous actor Maurice Chevalier. But he had two lawful wives, both of whom left him much faster. Perhaps Gregoire lied here too, he did not have any rich grandmother, just worked in a diner.
Having forged his own documents, he began sending letters from a one-room apartment to professional clubs, offering his soccer services. “Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal turned him down. It was almost twenty years ago. Found a club where the “promising young man from PSG” believed. In the summer of 2003 Gregoire was on trial at Swindon, but there he made the whole team laugh when the ball after the goalkeeper’s save flew to him, but instead of playing with his head Axelrod got a face.
Four years later, the guy asked to see Bournemouth, even scored in a friendly game, but the coach was understandably unimpressed by his game. It’s hard to believe that professional teams let in a man from the street, who referred to his own website, but the story is true. As the years went by, Axelrod received offers, but he turned down offers from clubs in Luxembourg. But in 2009 he got a tryout in CSKA from Sofia, where he convinced the coaches. He was offered a contract.
Imagine the scale – a club that was preparing to qualify for the Champions League gave a salary of 15,000 pounds a month to an impostor who flew in from France and introduced himself as a former PSG player. Perhaps Axelrod could have fooled the naive Bulgarians, but the CSKA fan decided to ask the Parisian fans what they thought of the newcomer? Of course, none of the French club’s fans had any idea who Grégoire Axelrod was, such a person was not listed at the club.
The fan complained about the impostor to journalists, the disgraced Bulgarian club asked the cheater to get out. The funny thing is that Axelrod “got into the role,” acquiring a certain level of skill over the years of training. As a result, he was signed by modest clubs from Wales, Belgium and Andorra. Even spent one season at a Canadian club, although he constantly made pauses in his career – no one even signed him as a free agent. For years he flew around the world for soccer happiness.
And now guess on your first try what career path Gregoire chose after his soccer career ended? The former impostor took a job as a soccer agent. For example, Axelrod worked for four years with Tchouameni, who has now been signed by Real Madrid. Gregoire has a young wife, recently had a son, he has more and more clients, although they are unknown players of modest clubs. It’s true that there are French youngsters too, even at Aston Villa Gregoire has a client.