Following an extensive search for homegrown talent, Australian A-League side Adelaide United announced last week that it was handing trials to two new overseas prospects. The first was Portuguese striker Fabio Ferreira, who made a few appearances for Chelsea's second string in 2008-09.
The second was a promising 25-year-old American named Dexter Rosales, whose resume includes Ajax, Valencia, River Plate, Club Atletico Junior and the U.S. at Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels. There's just one thing stopping Rosales throwing some shrimp on the barbie in South Australia: the fact that he doesn't exist.
Up until Monday, Adelaide's scouts were satisfied with their player research, which probably consisted of viewing Rosales' (since deleted) error-strewn Wikipedia page, and this video of someone who almost certainly doesn't answer to the name Dexter. Now, however, the Reds have admitted they have been duped by a prankster. Goal.com reports:
"It has been a strange few days with all the speculation around this mystery man - it doesn't look great from our end," a Reds media spokesman told Sportal. "We're not the first club to be given a false lead with a supposed trialist, but other clubs probably just don't promote it to the world like we did."
With Adelaide seemingly one of several clubs to fall victim to the non-existent Rosales, credit must be given to the perpetrators of the elaborate hoax.
Valencia, Ajax and River Plate have now all confirmed that Rosales did not play for them, with the Dutch side admitting that some images of the imaginary player that have surfaced online are actually those of their former employee and current Seattle Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales.
Adelaide's scouts and manager have been left red faced by the incident, but they can seek comfort in the fact that many other clubs have been pranked in this manner, most notably Southampton in 1996. Manager Graeme Souness played Ali Dia in a Premier League match after the club received a phone call and endorsement from his "cousin" George Weah. He came on as a sub during a game with Leeds, and was so astoundingly terrible that he was subbed off again. And of course, he was no relation to Weah.