He didn’t do himself any harm in the 45 minutes he had at Walsall and I’m trying to make contact with his agent, who is overseas at the moment, to see if I can play him again in the Reserves next week. I’ve not made a decision on him yet and I won’t be rushed on it because I like to be sure.
Those are the words of Peter Reid in September 1999 on the chances of him signing 27-year-old Marcus di Giuseppe after what would become one of the shortest Sunderland careers possibly ever.
Quite how Di Giuseppe even got close to the club is quite a mystery - Sunderland were flying high in the top four of the Premiership after transitioning to life in the top flight with ease. A month earlier we had beaten Newcastle on a rain soaked night at St. James Park and brushing off the competition in front of us with consummate ease. We were well stocked in the striker department too, with Kevin Phillips almost in double figures, Niall Quinn enjoying an Indian summer at the club and despite the departure of Michael Bridges, Danny Dichio was providing adequate cover for them.
Available on a free transfer, Marcus had been away from the game for over six months. He was released by Peruvian club Sport Boys following a failed drug test, when he tested positive for cocaine use. Despite protesting his innocence, he was thrown out of the club once his ban coincided with the end of his contract. A solid record of six goals in ten games for them convinced Reid that despite the cocaine-taking, ‘Bica’ had enough pedigree to be given the chance to shine in our League Cup second round tie at Walsall.
Already 3-2 up from the first leg, the Lads went in 0-2 up at half time with goals from Daniel Dichio and Eric Roy. Di Giuseppe would replace Neil Wainwright at the Bescot Stadium as we ended up romping to a 0-5 win - Dichio added his second, with a brace from Carsten Fredgaard rounding off proceedings. Despite the game focusing on a second half onslaught from Reid’s team, Di Giuseppe barely got a touch of the ball, his one half chance of the game going wide of the post.
Days later, Reid did manage to get in touch with his agent and the former Austria Salzburg man got another chance to impress, this time from the start as he lined up in a reserve team side that included the likes of Darren Williams and Andy Marriott at home to Manchester United, who had future Sunderland men David Healy and Danny Higginbotham in their starting eleven. The game would end in a 1-1 draw and the man himself did manage to bag a goal with Reid in attendance. However, he was substituted in the 61st minute of the game and was promptly told afterwards that a contract would not be forthcoming.
A week later, he strangely was offered a contract by Walsall Manager Ray Graydon, who had obviously seen something on the night he played against them in the cup, even if nobody else did. Sadly for Marcos, The Saddlers soon discovered their mistake, releasing him after just one substitute appearance for the club. Luckily for him though, the trend of a blink and you’ll miss it football career stopped, gaining a move back to Peru at Universitario de Deportes where he scored a prolific seven goals in eight games.
Following on from a short move to Danubio, he signed for the infamously named Deportivo Wanka - a club famous for becoming a cult amongst a small section of British fans in 2006, selling over one-thousand shirts to fans in the UK around that period.
Perhaps of all the weird and not-so-wonderful turns Bica’s career took, I still find his Wikipedia bio perhaps the most entertaining. “His play was characterised by his swift and fluid running and incredible ball control skills. His powerful heading and his shooting from distance gave him the nickname "enerpoçinho" amongst his peers, fans and teammates”. I can only laugh as I imagine the now 44-year-old “Soccer Agent” edits his own Wikipedia page, because let’s be honest, who else would it be?
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