Bogarde, the ultimate Bosman era folly, transfers from inactivity to retirement

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At Barça they claim it happened even sooner and the alarm bells should have been ringing as to why the Catalans were prepared to let a defender with an impressive CV, and with a year left on his contract, leave for free. They should have rung even louder with the admission by Graham Rix, then Chelsea's assistant manager, that the Dutchman had been targeted as the weak link when Barcelona were beaten in the Champions' League just months earlier.

But still Bogarde became Gianluca Vialli's last signing, with the Italian sacked as manager just weeks later. Vialli subsequently claimed he had nothing to do with Bogarde's arrival and has been involved in a sporadic row with the former Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson. Both men blame the other for the expensive mistake.

It is easy to see why no one wants to take responsibility for Bogarde who, with his basic salary of £40,000 a week came to symbolise the greed of the Bosman era and the folly of clubs diving in for apparently big-name players who were out of contract.

Bogarde made just 12 appearances - and only four starts - for Chelsea in four years. He effectively earned £693,000 per appearance, spending much of that time banished to train with the youth team before finally being refused even a squad number.

He did himself few favours. Bogarde once boasted about his salary on Dutch TV, which did not go down well in the Chelsea dressing-room where, due to financial restraints before the arrival of Roman Abramovich, players such as Eidur Gudjohnsen were earning half.

There was some mitigation. Bogarde's family is from Surinam and he comes from an impoverished background. Even so, when he was offered a substantial pay-off he refused, saying he wanted his contract in full. "I could play first-team football elsewhere," he said, "but why should I?"

Bogarde claimed he was constantly misrepresented but when he was asked to do interviews he declined. What was the point, he argued. He had his own website and "they pay me". It was on that website Bogarde made his retirement announcement - although he did have the grace to say "this may not be the most surprising news".

After leaving Chelsea last summer, claiming he was the "biggest outcast in England", Bogarde trained with Ajax - for whom he had played in the 1996 European Cup final - but was not offered a contract. "I received several offers," he said, "but nothing I was looking for so I decided to quit."

Bogarde, now 35, added: "I won't miss football. The game has been good to me during my career, with the exception of my period with Chelsea, but now I'm not interested any more."

Bogarde is involved in a project to develop youth football in Surinam. "My place of birth has always been close to my heart, so it's important I try and give something back," he said.

How Bogarde banked £8m

* During four years with Chelsea, Bogarde made 12 appearances and just four starts (only two of which were in the league).

* Bogarde earned £40,000 per week or just over £2m per year, which amounted to £693,000 per game or £2m per start.

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