EXCLUSIVE: The Australian agent who touted phantom player Dexter Rosales to Adelaide United has moved to clear his name, admitting he “let his guard down” to be fooled by the incredible hoax.
United announced last week they would be trialing an American player with an impressive CV but au.fourfourtwo.com has discovered Rosales isn't even a footballer, let alone the talent who had supposedly been scoring for fun in the reserve sides of River Plate and AFC Ajax.
FIFA-licensed agent Lou Nesci has explained how an unlikely series of coincidences led to the huge embarrassment for himself and Adelaide, while stating that he will “cop it on the chin” for the Rosales hoax.
Nesci told au.fourfourtwo.com 'Rosales' had been calling him "relentlessly” and sounded like a passionate, hungry player who was begging for a chance.
The Sydney-based agent and United officials realised around the same time last week that all was not as it seemed.
But since Rosales had promised to pay his own way to Australia and there was “nothing to lose”, they decided to let the situation play out and see who, if anyone, turned up.
When it became clear that no one was coming, Nesci was then determined to lead the perpetrator on to see just how far he was willing to take his deception, and to accumulate evidence to report the Florida-based contact to the American authorities.
But now that the media's exposure of the whole debacle has sent Rosales to ground, Nesci has decided to set the record straight.
The affair began months ago when Nesci received an email from a fabricated European player agent, Dimitri Kascovic, containing some basic information on Rosales and a link to a video featuring some silky skills...that belonged to a different, real-life, player with a similar name.
“When I first got the contact, there was some sort of doubt about how good he was, and why he was playing reserve grade only,” Nesci said. “And I should have done my checks.”
But Nesci decided to forward the package, which included a link to his impressive video, for clubs to have a look at.
A chance conversation with Melbourne Heart football chief John Didulica led to a misunderstanding which removed Nesci's last remaining doubts about Rosales.
Didulica mentioned he knew of a top player at Ajax called Rosales – only he was referring to former Argentina international Mauro Rosales, who coincidentally spent time at both Ajax and River Plate.
“The video was pretty impressive,” Nesci said. “Then when I spoke to Didulica, the penny dropped about him being a potential superstar.”
At this point Adelaide might have raised doubts about Rosales, but as the stars continued to align, they instead took the bait and invited him to trial.
“In hindsight I would have thought the football director (Michael Petrillo) would have done some serious research and come back and asked me,” Nesci said.
“Adelaide United is a victim of it. It was one of these things where no one pays much attention to it but based on the video they go 'I want to have a look at this guy'.
"When you're not putting financial risk into it, you have nothing to lose so your guard is down."
He added: “Once Adelaide issued the trial offer, then I started getting concerned and I starting doing my own checks.
"And I thought 'shit, have we got something bad here?' Around the same time Petrillo and Kossie (coach John Kosmina) contacted me and I said 'you know what, I'm with you guys on this one, I think you're right'.
"I didn't try to deny it. I have known Kossie for years and I really regret having put him in that position. I have immense respect for him.
"He's a guy with a lot of integrity with a passion for what he believes in. That's one of the biggest disappointments in this whole affair was putting him in harm's way.”
Adelaide's unusual decision to issue a statement announcing their intention to trial Dexter Rosales was another factor that worked against Nesci, and one that backfired spectacularly for the club.
“I was quite surprised Adelaide had gone to the media with it," Nesci said today.
"A Brazilian guy (Nesci's client Guilherme Finkler) goes to Melbourne Victory and hardly anyone knows about him, you wouldn't even know he signed there.
"Then some guy is potentially coming for a trial and it's splashed on the A-League website.”
Nesci now faces the task of restoring his reputation in the aftermath of the debacle.
To prove how thorough he usually is when profiling players for clubs, he showed au.fourfourtwo.com a highly-detailed dossier on three Argentinian players, including one, Max Badell, whom Adelaide came close to signing.
“No one has lost money out of this, but it's obviously embarrassing,” said Nesci. “There's a strong element of embarrassment but also victimisation.
"I didn't do my homework as I would have done normally. I usually do research and get comprehensive reports on players from reliable sources.
"That's no excuse on my behalf. I have some damage repair to do and I just have to pick myself up.”