Reviving the Premier League players you forgot existed…
It’s an elite band of footballers that have a day named in their honour, and former Southampton and Aston Villa midfielder Hassan Kachloul is one of them.
The day in question is 8 May 1999, when a reported 12,000 Saints fans descended on Selhurst Park for a crucial, relegation-defining match against Wimbledon. They donned fez hats and blew on kazoos in what became known as Kachloul Day - a celebration of the club’s popular Moroccan.
Sixteen years on, Kachloul Day is not celebrated anywhere except his own house. So what happened?
Plucked from the French wilderness for nothing in October 1998, the languid, leggy North African played a crucial role in Southampton’s Great Escape that season. Saints fan David Williams recalls, “We had a habit of purchasing cheap, dependable Scandinavians and Kachloul was the opposite of this, a bit of a liability but always a joy to watch.”
And so Kachloul was a flawed wizard, one moment gliding silkily down the wing and the next opting for a Hollywood strike when he should have just passed it to Matt Le Tissier. He scored twice in the Saints’ final match at the Dell in 2001 to cement his cult hero status, but this proved to be his last match for the club and things quickly turned sour.
“Had a couple of good seasons, then let that go to his head,” was the view of one Saints fan on the Ugly Inside forum, while another opined that Kachloul was “nowhere near as good as he thought he was”. Others will never forgive him for the time he gave a TV interview dressed from head-to-toe in Burberry.
Kachloul was commonly sighted in Southampton city centre, with fans recalling him driving around in a small green car, and socialising in the city’s Lizard Lounge nightspot.
Eventually Kachloul wanted a bigger car, and he snubbed Southampton’s offer of a new contract to accept a more lucrative one at Ipswich, before reneging on the Ipswich agreement and signing for Villa instead, all of which left a bad taste in various mouths across Hampshire and Suffolk.
Alas, Kachloul was never quite flavour of the month at Villa Park either. He was supposed to form a lethal partnership with compatriot Mustapha Hadji in John Gregory’s midfield but is now labelled the “duller version” of the two - a particularly damning assessment when you consider the lack of excitement created by Hadji.
“If they were in a sitcom together Kachloul would be the nerdy one who wasn’t so lucky with the ladies,” surmised one Villa supporter on the Heroes and Villains fanzine website. Other fan descriptions include “instantly forgettable”, “contributed very little” and “nothing player”.
Kachloul made just 22 league appearances in three seasons at Villa Park. He had so much free time on his hands in Birmingham that rumours surfaced he had become a musician, with one Villa fan claiming he had sold Kachloul a piano.
A loan spell at Wolves failed to reignite the Moroccan’s career, and after being released by Villa he found himself back in the wilderness from whence he had been discovered by Southampton. A brief liaison with Livingston was Kachloul’s last act in football.
The man who was once hot property in the Premier League is now a property developer.
But he’ll always have the 8 May. And maybe next year, someone, somewhere will raise a glass and blow into a kazoo for Kachloul Day.