Born: Paris, France, 8 August 1978
Position: Centre forward
International caps: 20
International goals: 4
Signed: 1 June 2000, from FC Metz (£2.1m)
Fulham appearances: 142
Fulham goals: 63
Honours: Division One champions (2000-01), UEFA Cup InterToto Cup (2002).
Sold: 23 January 2004 to Manchester United (£12.8m)
There was some disquiet that Jean Tigana’s first significant act as Fulham manager was to sell popular forward Geoff Horsfield to Birmingham City for more than a million pounds. Nobody was particularly inspired by the purchase of Louis Saha as his replacement, perhaps because the French forward was predominantly known to an English audience for an unremarkable spell with Newcastle United. That soon changed once we saw Saha in action: the young Frenchman had everything. Searing pace, a superb first touch, excellent aerial ability and an insatiable appetite for scoring goals.
Saha set pulses racing almost immediately scoring 32 goals in his first season at Craven Cottage as Tigana’s side swept all before them on their way to winning the First Division title at a canter. He became the first Fulham player to score thirty goals in a single season since the brilliant Bedford Jezzard. Saha formed part of a formidable forward line that also include Barry Hayles and Luis Boa Morte but initially struggled to replicate those goalscoring feats in the top flight, having been plagued by injuries in Fulham’s first two seasons back in the big time. His brilliant brace at Old Trafford on the opening day in 2001 hinted at his special talent – but it was fleeting until Chris Coleman designed his 4-3-3 formation with Saha in mind.
The Paris-born front man was on fire from the start of the 2003-04 campaign. He scored 15 goals in 22 appearances before Sir Alex Ferguson lured him to Old Trafford after a long period of public flirtation in January 2004 but perhaps his finest display came in the 3-1 win at Manchester United where he didn’t find the net but proved a constant menace to the home back four. Saha won two league titles, a League Cup and the Champions’ League at Old Trafford and was later an FA Cup finalist with Everton, scoring the fastest goal in the final after only 25 seconds against Chelsea in 2009. He is now a regular pundit on French and English television and wrote a remarkable autobiography entitled Thinking Outside of the Box.