“I couldn’t believe it, but that was just him” – Ex-owner Al Fayed handed out Viagra to players, says former Fulham star


“I couldn’t believe it, but that was just him” – Ex-owner Al Fayed handed out Viagra to players, says former Fulham star

The world of football has had its fair share of colorful owners, but perhaps none more unique than former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed. 

The recent passing of the businessman at 94 has opened the vault of memorable stories, including some astonishing anecdotes from former Craven Cottage star Barry Hayles.

Al Fayed notably catapulted Fulham from lower-league obscurity to Premier League and European prominence. Following his acquisition of Fulham in 1997 with a £9 million price tag, he pushed the club to the Premier League in just four years.

Attracting luminaries like Chris Coleman and John Salako, the west London squad saw the addition of Barry Hayles from League Two side Bristol Rovers as well.

 Hayles recently took a moment to reminisce about the unique character who revolutionized not just the club but his life. Speaking to Daily Star, the former Fulham player said:

"He transformed my life, really. I think my transfer was a record between clubs in the division and I'd heard about the chairman, but only because he owned Harrods.

"He used to come in the changing rooms before games at home and he'd always ask: 'Have we got big balls today boys?' We realised it was him getting his players ready to go to war, but initially it was quite a shock - especially when you'd just signed."

According to Hayles, the Egyptian tycoon's quirky methods extended beyond locker-room pep talks. After a triumphant journey that saw them promoted into the Premier League, the former Fulham owner apparently had eccentric gifts in store for the players, as Hayles revealed:

"He started handing these pills out on one occasion and I had no idea what they were. The boys were saying: 'You know what these are for?' They said they were Viagra and I couldn't believe it, but that was just him."

However, the surprises didn't stop there. Known for his friendship with British royalty, Al Fayed once led the squad to believe they were about to become millionaires. Hayles revealed:

"We were told that we were getting gold bars worth millions but we then realised they were chocolates, which he thought was hilarious."

Hayles further noted that the flamboyant businessman had a passion for being involved with the team:

"I don't think anyone else had a chairman who would walk around the pitch before matches and wave a flag around his head without fail. He was upstairs but hands-on at the same time."

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