George Best was the Messi of his day. He could have been so much more than what he turned out to be. He was beyond good but he never developed much further and his talent was largely washed away by the demon that is alcohol. He wasn’t the first to succumb so and he won’t be the last.
Millwall would know all about that when it came to Sergey Yuran. After starting at Zoria Luhansk in Ukraine, the 40-cap international ended up at Dynamo Kyiv before a move to Portuguese football with, first, Benfica and, later, FC Porto. He spent three years in Portuguese football before a return East to Spartak Moscow.
He’d only been there, back in the Russian capital, for six months before a surprise move to London and a half-season at Millwall. It was a surprise half-season that many Lions fans would rather just forget. What was meant to be a coup signing in Yuran, and international teammate Vassili Kulkov, turned sour pretty sharpish.
After quadrupling his wages to £5,000-per-week, Yuran hit the bars rather than the ground running with the Londoners. He placed the blame for his drunken antics and partying on the fact he’d just got married. It was a degree of insobriety that led to then-Lions manager Jimmy Nicholl to say that Yuran was the most unprofessional player he’d come across whilst also referring to the Russian as a disgrace and an embarrassment to himself and Millwall.
He featured in just 13 games for Millwall, leaving them to head to the 1Bundesliga with Fortuna Dusseldorf before also moving on to VfL Bochum, back to Spartak Moscow before ending his career at Sturm Graz in Austria.
For Millwall fans, it was a disappointment to have Yuran who hit the bottom of the bottle with more regularity than the back of the net.