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By no means influential on the pitch, Jean-Marc Bosman was a fairly unremarkable midfielder who operated for various Liege clubs during the '80s. Unlike many other alumni from RFC Liege, however, his name is unlikely to be forgotten.
Bosman was responsible for changing the complexion of player-club relationships and the way transfers and contracts were dealt with within football.
Unwilling to sign a new contract with RFC Liege, which were only offering him a risible extension, amounting to a quarter of his existing salary, Bosman was placed on the transfer list. The only fly in the ointment, however, was that the club were demanding an extravagant fee for the player—over two times what they had initially paid for him.
The midfielder thus found himself in limbo—unwilling to sign on, but unable to secure a move.
He eventually took his case to the European Court of Justice, appearing in 1995 to challenge both the ability of clubs to demand transfer fees once players reached the end of their contract and a lift on the previous limitations concerning foreign players registered at clubs.
Bosman won on both counts, and, while the initial apocalyptic predictions following the ruling have not quite been realised, his actions have caused the vast—and often reprehensible—player power that exists today.
The Belgian, it seems, has not benefited from the change in laws quite like his successors, men like Fernando Llorente and Florent Malouda who moved on Bosman deals this summer. After some failed business ventures and a battle with alcoholism, he serves as an example to footballers naïve to the realities that may face them once they leave the sport.