Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos has won the World Cup, has three Champions League winners medals and picked up several league titles over an iconic career that spanned 24 years.
He is best known for his 11 years at Real Madrid from 1996 to 2007, where he quickly established himself as the world’s best left back and one of the best players of his generation.
But the 48-year-old, who hung up his boots in 2015, is dusting them off once more for a substitute appearance in the Shrewsbury & District Sunday Football League.
He will turn out for Division One side Bull In The Barne United after the pub team – who represent the Bull In The Barne pub – entered and won eBay’s ‘dream transfer raffle’ after paying just £5 to take part.
The club have been together for more than 30 years with many of the current squad having played for the last decade.
At times this season the team has struggled with results and has been forced to play with 10 players – before a recent up-turn in fortunes – and they will now be joined by Carlos for a match next month.
“One of my mates sent me a link to the raffle and I thought it would be a good laugh to enter, thinking nothing more of it, but when I had the email – it was just mad to be honest”, said manager Ed Speller, who is also the club’s goalkeeper.
“Roberto Carlos is a legend and one of the top players to ever play the game, it was a proper ‘wow’ moment when we found out.
“Most people think I’m playing an elaborate trick on everyone, no-one could really believe it.
“I keep checking my phone thinking to myself someone might be having me on. It gets more surreal each day.
“It makes me speechless thinking about it actually happening. We’re all hoping he plays as many minutes as possible – the whole day will be insane.
“Everyone is buzzing about it and looking forward to getting the day going. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We’re just an amateur pub team in Shropshire where everyone pays their own subs to pay, so it’s surreal to know he is coming to play with us.”
Carlos brings with him a wealth of experience from the very top of the game and the Brazilian hopes he can make a difference when he steps out on the pitch for Bull In The Barne United.
Carlos said: “I’m excited to play for Bull In The Barne in Shrewsbury, paying homage to when I nearly signed for Birmingham City in the 90s, which is very close by. I’ve heard that the team’s been down a number of players this season, so here’s hoping my training is enough to help them up their game and bring what Bull In The Barne’s fans want to see!”
Club secretary and striker Matt Brown – nicknamed ‘chicken’ for his skinny legs and for “running around like a headless chicken on the pitch” will also be lining up alongside Carlos in February.
For him and his teammates it is a dream come true having watched Carlos in his heyday.
“None of us believed it was true at first, but it’s just fantastic,” the 29-year-old said.
“I don’t know if a hug is too forward when I meet him? We’re all so excited for it.
“We’re all similar age and have grown up watching him, he’s iconic. Everyone knows the free-kick against France at the World Cup and we all watched it. To be on the same pitch as him will be amazing.”
There is currently no date set for the February match or any details on the opposition, but Speller hopes the Brazilian can help them continue their drive up the league – as they currently sit fifth and with plenty of games in hand.
Speller added: “We’re still waiting to hear the date and which team it will be against, but we’re hoping it will be a league game and not a friendly.”
The raffle and the game will be in aid of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that was set up to change the lives of young people who may be passionate about football but are not fulfilling their potential at school.