A former professional footballer, Medi Abalimba, who pretended to be a Premier League star, Gael Kakuta, to maintain his celebrity life of champagne and shopping sprees is facing a ‘substantial’ stretch in jail for fraud today.
Abalimba, 24, who once earned £4,000 (about N1,060,000) a week and was tipped for stardom, was so ashamed at his career at top flight clubs floundering due to injury he falsely claimed to be multi-millionaire Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta to get drink and clothes on credit.
During one incident he duped starstruck staff into running up a £25,000 (about N6,6million) bar tab on Cristal champagne in one West End Club in London claiming ‘he was good for the money’ by showing photos of himself posing in football shirts with Premier League stars.
Moreover, he ran up a £9,600 (N2,5 million) bill at three London luxury hotels, took a bar in Manchester for another £5,000 (N1,3million), scrounged suites in luxury apartment complexes and spent £11,000 (N2,9million) on limousines saying he had an American Express credit card.
Medi Abalimba (left), the conman who posed as Chelsea footballer Gael Kakuta (right) to enjoy a champagne lifestyle in luxury hotels
Abalimba was caught after he attempted to buy clothing worth more than £20,000 (N5,3million) from a store at the Trafford Centre near Manchester on a dodgy credit card only for staff to become suspicious and retain the items.
He claimed his one-time massive weekly wage left him with a ‘wholly unrealistic’ understanding of money.
Today at Manchester Crown Court, Abalimba, of Kings Cross, London, admitted three charges of fraud, taking a Range Rover without consent and making off without paying for £104 (N25,000) worth of petrol.
Nearly all the offences involved him making false representations that he was Gael Kakuta. He was also appearing for sentence for five other counts of similar frauds in London and Derby in which he claimed to be the former Chelsea star. He asked for 19 other offences to be considered.
Abalimba, was born in the Congo and had begun his career as a midfielder in the youth teams of Crystal Palace and Fulham, before moving to Southend United where he was paid £1,000 (N260,000) a week at just 16 years old.
He attracted attention from several Premier League clubs early in his career and was given trials at Manchester United and Manchester City. At Liverpool, he played for the reserves while the then manager Rafa Benitez watched from the stands and eventually signed for Derby County in 2009.
He was paid £4,000 (over N1 million) a week and received an appearance fee of £1,000 (N260,000) as a substitute, and £2,000 (N530,000) for starting a match. But his career was curtailed by injury and he was sent to Oldham Athletic on a free transfer in January 2011 having failed to make a competitive appearance.
In August 2012 he was signed by Farnborough Town with a wage of just £300 (N80,000) a week and was forced to supplement his income with part-time work as a taxi firm controller.