Remember them?…Junior Agogo

Normally this feature has you racking your memory banks in the hope you’ll remember old fringe players from yesteryear to see how they finished up.

In this edition however, we take a look at Junior Agogo - a popular Forest striker wearing the garibaldi red shirt just 4 seasons ago. He was pivotal in our return to the Championship in the 07/08 season – even finishing our top goalscorer – and during his time at Forest, he became a regular international for his country.
His story began at the start of the 06/07 season when a somewhat striker curse hit Forest.

Nathan Tyson was just minutes into our first game of the season against Bradford when he seemed to slip over on his knees. It had initially looked harmless; however, Tyson was struggling badly and the injury proved to be devastating as he had suffered medial ligament damage.

The news meant Forest would be unable to field their best striker for the best part of 3 and a half months.

With then manager, Colin Calderwood, seeming to be on a mission to flog Grant Holt to Bristol City and other strikers Jack Lester, Scott Dobie and Neil Harris failing to provide the goals, something had to be done and quickly.
Forest turned their attentions to Junior Agogo - the star striker of Bristol Rovers - to tilt the balance.

Junior had to initially go on somewhat of a strike to get his move. After we had an initial bid turned down, Junior wasn’t impressed and did everything possible to get his move. By the end of August 2006, we had our man for a reasonable price of £125,000.

When he arrived at Forest, Junior was already something of a journey man, having played for no less than 11 clubs across England and America.

His arrival created real hope and promise about the season ahead.

Agogo was a reasonably strong striker who also had a bit of pace and a great shot on him – something we come to expect from all African strikers nowadays.

Junior’s first season was decent although abruptly cut short in March 2007 due to a groin injury - thus ruling him out of the fateful Yeovil playoff games. He grabbed himself 10 goals including a goal in the FA Cup giant killing of then Premier League team, Charlton Athletic.

Agogo’s second season would prove to be his last for Forest.

Having starred and re-established himself for Ghana, who had reached the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations, many big clubs had begun to sniff around him – Portsmouth being one.

Agogo seemed to have the idea put into his head, with the obvious assistance of his agent, that Forest wouldn’t be enough to help establish himself as a Ghana regular.

It seemed a bit mad but the general feeling was if we can pick up a decent fee, then let him go.

Fortunately, he stuck it out with us for the season and finished top goalscorer with 17 goals in all competitions. Junior’s goals helped contribute to us bouncing back into the Championship at the third time of asking.

In the summer of 2008, Portsmouth never came in for him but El Zamalek, the most successful team in Africa, did after star striker Amir Zaki went out on a season long loan to Wigan.

Forest picked up £565,000 and Agogo got his ‘dream move’ which would allow him to pursue establishing himself in Ghana’s team. Everyone was happy.

And this is where the story tails off for most Forest fans. What did happen at his 'dream move'?

Now I’m sure most Forest fans who remember Zaki will know Agogo would never have been good enough to fully replace him for Zamalek and sadly this proved to be the case.

Agogo never settled or performed in his 15 games for Zamalek despite a promising start.

Agogo was constantly clashing with club officials with rows over late pay and both were accusing each other of breach of contract. Junior had also been banned by the EFA for making obscene gestures at his own fans and began skipping training sessions.

Less than 6 months after joining Zamalek, he was hit with a £125,000 fine for no reason, prompting him to report his club to both FIFA and the Egyptian FA. Agogo said:
“Things started very well but in my few months there unbelievable changes happened from the management to the coaching structure. This did not help the development of the club and with the frustrations boiling over some management members decided to blame it all on me when I had nothing to do with it. I was fined US$200,000 for no crime and all these were not even written down in a letter to me. I stayed on because I thought things might improve but it didn’t.”

It was unsurprising that in April 2009, Agogo terminated his contract and left the club – which provoked Zamalek to then try and sue him for €1m.

The move was a total train wreck, an ill advised move that never paid off.

At 31, it has also left both his Ghana dreams and his reputation in absolute tatters. He didn’t even get a sniff at a call up for last year’s World Cup and can now be found plying his trade for Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol.

Now I loved Agogo when he was at Forest and it’s very sad to see how things turned out. He probably could have done something in the Championship, especially with Davies’ guidance. I for one also do not believe his Ghana chances would have been ruined had he stayed here.

I’m sure he looks at where we are now and wonders; what if?