Unless you’ve played Championship Manager, you’ve probably never heard of Tonton Zola Moukoko.
And who could blame you? Currently playing for Finnish third division side Atlantis FC, Moukoko is hardly a player making waves in world football.
Yet the majestically named midfielder is still revered by millions of gamers across the globe as a man whose talents were on a par with the likes of Pelé and Diego Maradona.
So where did it all go wrong?
Born in The Congo and raised in Sweden, Tonton Zola Moukoko quickly forged a reputation as one of the hottest young prospects in Swedish football.
He was linked with a host of European clubs, but it was Derby County who secured his signature when Moukoko was 15 years old.
Moukoko turned in some exciting performances for The Rams’ youth and reserve teams, and on his 17th birthday was rewarded with a professional contract. Excitement grew amongst the club’s staff and supporters that the next world superstar was about to break into the team.
But early in the 2002/03 season, Moukoko’s fledgling career took a turn for the worst. It was his wish to study alongside his footballing duties, and Derby appeared unwilling to help him realise his dream.
That, coupled with severe family problems back in Sweden, led to Moukoko’s return to his adopted homeland.
Sven Goran Eriksson helped the talented youngster find a new club in Carlstad United, where Moukoko scored six goals in 43 appearances.
Moves to IK Sleipner and Syrianska KF followed, before Moukoko upped sticks for the obscurity of the Finnish second division with Atlantis in 2009.
Despite his arrival though, Moukoko’s new side were relegated and the Championship Manager hero now finds himself in Finland’s provincial Kakkonen league.
It wasn’t quite the career path that many had hoped and prayed for Tonton Zola Moukoko, but even the man himself is happy with the way things have turned out.
He is regularly bombarded with telephone calls from Championship Manager players, and once said: “I spoke with a guy for an hour. He wanted to know what had happened to me since I wasn’t playing for a major club. I was once one of the biggest talents in that computer game so he was wondering… many phone me asking the same question.”
Moukoko even has his own Facebook appreciation page.
The name Tonton Zola Moukoko may be synonymous with Championship Manager fans, but if things had been different, his name could have been one uttered in the same breath as the true greats of the modern game.
See Moukoko in action here for Atlantis FC. He is wearing the number 20 shirt for the side in the black strip.