From scoring the winner at Anfield to going AWOL, Alasdair Hooper looks at the unusual career of talented French forward David N’Gog.
“They are finding players like N’Gog, players with quality who are not a high price,” Rafael Benitez said back in 2008.
The then-Liverpool boss was busy praising his scouting network ahead of a Champions League qualifier against Standard Liege after the club had signed 19-year-old striker David N’Gog from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
There is no doubt the young French forward had talent but, with the benefit of hindsight, that statement seems worlds away from reality.
N’Gog certainly had his moments in a Liverpool shirt – his coolly-finished strike that helped seal a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in October 2009 was a particular standout – but it didn’t really last.
Three years after signing for Liverpool for £1million he was on the move after 19 goals in 94 appearances. Granted, that goal tally may have had something to do with the fact he was competing with the likes of Fernando Torres, then Luis Suarez and (ahem) Andy Carroll, for a place in the Liverpool team.
He joined Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2011 for a fee of £4million and became part of a squad that would be relegated from the Premier League that season. He scored just three league goals that year in 33 appearances.
Life in the Championship didn’t really get too much better for the Frenchman. He bagged eight goals for Bolton in his first season – commendable but not exactly stellar – before scoring just three league goals up until January of his second Championship campaign.
Midway through that season, in January, he returned to the Premier League with Swansea City but he would go on to only make three appearances for the club.
In September 2014 N’Gog’s time in England came to an end, with a move back to France – specifically Reims in Ligue 1.
After scoring on his debut against Toulouse he was then the subject of a story in L’Equipe suggesting he had gone AWOL – a statement from the club later confirmed he was ill – but his goalscoring again didn’t stay consistent.
In two years at the club, he had 10 goals to his name and Reims were relegated in 2016.
N’Gog’s next move took him to Greek side Panionios – three goals in a year – and he then became a free agent in the summer of 2017.
In steps Owen Coyle, the striker’s former Bolton manager, who granted him a route back into football after six months without a club. He reunited with his former boss at Ross County in the Scottish Premiership, signing a deal in January 2018 until the end of the season.
There were 10 appearances, and one goal, and Ross County were relegated.
Hungary was next for N’Gog as he joined up with Budapest Honved. What came was the most prolific season of his career – 12 goals in 31 games – and that was the only time he reached double figures for goals in a season.
But in February 2020 he had moved again, this time to Lithuanian side Zalgiris. He scored one goal in two appearances before the league was postponed.
Then came a shock that his club were not expecting. After the Lithuanian league had come back, and N’Gog had played the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 defeat, he announced his retirement from professional football.
That announcement arrived four months after he joined and at the age of 31.
So, if anything is going to make you feel old today, it’s knowing that Liverpool’s once promising striker David N’Gog is no longer playing professional football.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992