A little over twenty years ago, Olympique de Marseille recruited José Delfim, Portuguese international midfielder (1 selection), revealed to Sporting CP. The beginning of the end of ambitions for the native of Amarante, 24 years old at the time. Everything had started rather badly as he told it with his agent at the time in a report broadcast in Portugal by TVI. While everything was quickly completed in July, for $ 5 million, people close to the Marseille club invite its representative to share his commission, which he refuses to do. Trouble begins for her foal.
“We were locked up for 8 or 9 weeks in a hotel. I was told that they came to pick me up for training, that they would bring me back. I was told to call if I needed groceries, anything for my 14 month old child, but I was told not to go out and take the car. I couldn’t go out, open a bank account, rent a house. I was wondering what was going on ”, told the former player, who will finally see his contract homologated to the Professional Football League on August 22, 2001, when the season has already started.
Entry pressures, open wounds
We have known better adaptation. After a complicated first season (20 appearances in all competitions), the Lusitanian injured his back during a trip. He gritted his teeth to enter the last quarter of an hour of the first day of Ligue 1, against Nantes (0-2), August 3, 2002. The injury was getting worse and he would no longer tread the lawns in official competition until ‘in February 2005. Meanwhile, an ordeal. Hit in the back, he consulted the osteopath of the club, but the problem worsened. “I was crying uncontrollably. I went through a brutal ordeal from there, I couldn’t walk. I spent almost two years like this ”, he said, with tears in his eyes.
Three surgeries followed, which did not solve the problem at all. On the contrary. He was under pressure when he wanted another medical opinion. And worse, he learned that he had been the subject of a fraudulent declaration of a work accident to Social Security. “I have not trained since August 7, 2002. How can Marseille make a statement dated October 24, 2002, explaining that I was in training, at La Commanderie, with witnesses cited?”, he asked himself. But the person concerned was far from being at the end of his – unpleasant – surprises.
He says that after eleven months of suffering, the then president Christophe Bouchet offered to put an end to his career, to collect an insurance policy in the amount of 5 M €, that the club and he would be shared, but also a position within the organization chart of the club. “I replied: ‘I want respect’. If I sign this, I won’t be able to look my father in the eye anymore. He proposed to me to commit a crime. He suggested that I stop my career. I told him: “I want to replay, I will replay” “, he recalled, creating new worries for himself. “After this meeting with President Bouchet, they stopped paying me for sixteen months. They failed to get me to sign the insurance history so that I would definitely leave the club ”.
Operated in July 2003 on the spine, he was undergoing rehabilitation at his own expense for several months with an osteopath in Portugal. Without receiving any news from OM, he returned to the field in 2004. On resumption, he was present and then loaned a few months later to Moreirense to regain the pace. Back in the summer of 2005, he once again set foot on the lawn of the Orange Vélodrome. But, again, trouble got involved. “His car is stolen from his home. A week later, I found her in front of my children’s school, with papers inside that explained what had happened ”, he explains.
The fight goes on
He even admits to having, at the time, spoken with the director of the Judicial Police of Marseille to know whether or not he should shelter his family in Portugal in the face of these threats and pressures. He finally left OM in the summer of 2006, at the end of his contract, after having been part of the winning campaign in Intertoto in 2005 in particular and scoring a goal in the UEFA Cup against Dinamo Bucharest. “It was the only goal I scored with OM and I felt a feeling of joy and intense sharing with my partners who were really happy for me because they knew what I had been through during all these years”, he recalled.
For several months he has been claiming compensation from the club (€ 4 million in damages), wanting the institution to assume its responsibilities for its setbacks. “My room for improvement is dead, the magic I had for international football disappeared from the moment I signed for a project which, for me, never existed”, he sums up, sorry. Unsuccessful in 2019, he appealed and hopes to be heard. “I am made to look like a confrontational person, who only thinks about money. (…) I felt rage, revolt, indignation, contempt, incomprehension … “, he regretted, willing to go to the end. “I am ready to take the case to FIFA, to demonstrate what has been done wrong over all these years. Let FIFA get its hands on it ”, he said.