What ever happened to? Hamilton Ricard

Hamilton Ricard playing for Middlesbrough.
In 1998 Middlesbrough FC signed 24 year old Colombian striker Hamilton Ricard from Deportivo Cali for a fee of £2 million. Ricard had been in a rich vien of form, he was the top scorer in the Colombian league in 1996-97 with 36 goals and had starred for the Colombia national team at Copa América 1997 and at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

After struggling to adapt to life in the 2nd tier of English football in his first season and earning himself more than a few detractors amongst the Boro faithful, some of whom cruelly referred to him as Hamilton Retard.He rediscovered his goalscoring form after Boro were promoted to the Premier League, he scored in the double figures as the club's top scorer for the 1998-99 & 1999-00 seasons and making himself  the most prolific striker Boro have had over a season since Fabrizio Ravanelli in 1996-97 and a better Premier League goalscorer than all of the big money signings to have come after him.

Ricard stayed with Middlesbrough for 4 years, making 132 appearances for the club in all competitions. He scored 43 goals in his time on Teesside, giving him a goal average of nearly 1 in 3 which is pretty good considering he made 25 appearances as a substitute. Ricard blew hot and cold for the Boro, he went on long runs without scoring a goal but on his day he was brilliant. His game winning curler against Bradford at Valley parade was a contender for goal of the season in 2000-01 and his 3rd goal at Highbury in 2001 will live long in the memory. He particularly enjoyed playing against London clubs, he scored plenty of goals against Wimbledon and Spurs, his first goal after only 30 seconds in a 3-1 win against Wimbledon in April 1999 remained the fastest goal scored at the Riverside until 2010. Another of his stand out performances came in a 0-3 away win against Spurs in September 1998 in which he scored 2 sublime goals, he repeated the trick the following season netting twice at White Hart Lane in a 2-3 win.

Hamilton Ricard alongside legendary
Colombian midfielder Carlos Valderrama.
During his time in Middlesbrough he continued to make appearances for the Colombia national team, appearing at Copa América in 1999 and making his final two appearances for his nation in 2000 bringing his tally to 5 goals in 27 international games.

Ricard fell out of favour after Steve McClaren arrived at the Riverside, he eventually joined Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia after he was released from his contract in 2002. He never settled in Bulgaria and returned to Colombia later that year after only making 9 appearances for CSKA.

Ricard joined up with Independiente Santa Fe back in his homeland. While he was there he was involved in a car crash that resulted in the death of a 17 year old girl.

In 2003 he had stints with Shonan Belmare in Japan and Cortuluá back in Colombia but he did not settle at either club. He refound his form in Ecuador in 2004 hitting 17 goals in 25 games for Emelec but his time there ended in disaster after he was banned from football for a year for attacking a referee and making obscene gestures at the crowd.

Ricard returned to Deportivo Cali in 2005
His ban was overturned on appeal, but he left Ecuador behind to try his luck again in European football, his next club were Cypriot side APOEL, he made 15 appearances for the club, scoring six goals to help them to win the Cypriot league in 2004.

In 2005 he returned to his first team Deportivo Cali where he had won two league titles and finished as the top scorer in the Colombian league. He did not rediscover his form and after failing to score in six games he left Colombian football behind for the last time to join Spanish 2nd division side Numancia where he scored 2 goals in 16 games to help them to an 8th place finish.

In 2006 he joined Uruguayan side Danubio FC where he once again rediscovered his goalscoring touch, hitting 11 goals in 25 appearances to help them to win the Uruguayan league championship in 2007. It was in 2007 that he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in his absence by a Colombian court, a sentence his lawyers stated that they would appeal against and which as yet he still has not served.
Hamilton Ricard celebrating a goal for Danubio FC in Uruguay.

After this success he was lured to China for the big money on offer from Shanghai Shenhua who had been scouring the Uruguayan league for players at the time. they also signed Uruguayans  Sergio Blanco, Diego Alonso and Fernando Correa at the same time. Ricard had a successful spell in China, scoring 14 goals in 42 league games in his two years in Shanghai.

In 2009 he returned to Danubio FC where he scored 3 goals in 10 games before being released at the end of the Apertura 2009 tournament and in 2010 his nomadic football career took him to the 10th different country when he joined Deportes Concepción of the Chilean 2nd division.

In January 2010 Ricard joined his 12th club in the 10th
different country of his nomadic football career.
In July 2010 he was involved in a bizarre game between Deportes Concepción and Rangers de Talca, in which the referee insisted on a penalty being retaken three times (Ricard missed one of them) and then ended up getting strangled by Rangers defender José Pedrozo.

"Ham the man" Ricard is fondly remembered by many Middlesbrough fans as well as the fans of Deportivo Cali in Colombia, APOEL in Cyprus, Danubio FC in Uruguay and Shanghai Shenhua in China. He is less fondly remembered at a succession of other clubs where he failed to find his goalscoring touch. What is clear is that he deserves his place on the list of the World's greatest international journeyman footballers.

Part of the What ever happened to? series.

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