If you have every played Championship Manager, one of the first football management computer games, then you’ve possibly heard about Justin Georcelin, and his various scrapes with the law including going on the run from Springhill open prison in Grendon Underwood, Aylesbury. But who is the real Justin Georcelin, and what were the reasons for his downfall from a promising young footballer to a hardened, violent criminal?
In the game, Justin Georcelin featured in the 2001-2 season, and it was often an excellent strategy to get him in your side to almost guarantee promotion. His stats were impressive and ticked all the boxes with excellent scores for pace, heading, acceleration, and finishing.
In real life, Georcelin failed to live up to the fantasy
But in real life, he was unable to live up to the fantasy. There is no doubt that the real Justin Georcelin packed a load of talent with an enviable skill set, though he never quite made it as far as a first-team appearance with his club Northampton Town. He joined the club when he was just 16, and many believed he was destined for big things. Unfortunately, extracurricular activities got in the way including drugs, and he failing performance saw him dropped from the squad.
Disappointed, disillusioned and in with the wrong crowd, he turned to drugs in a big way and before too long he had developed a £500 a day crack cocaine habit.
A life of violent crime
Feeding such a habit left him with few options. Violent crime was the outcome. In 2005 Justin Georcelin along with two other crack addicts all armed with knives hailed a taxicab. The cab driver, Farhan Saleem, pulled over, but as soon as the gang got in the cab, they grabbed the drivers head, pulling it back and holding a knife to his throat. They then fled with the driver’s earnings leaving behind their highly traumatised victim. That had been just one of several similar attacks on Northampton taxi drivers causing much fear throughout cab drivers’ community, but it was the one he eventually went down for.
In another attack, Peter Kessie was walking to his car, parked at an underground car park. He was confronted by the masked Georcelin, and an accomplice who stabbed Kessie in the back, took his car keys, and stole his car, leaving him hospitalised for two weeks. They used the vehicle to ram a taxicab, again stabbing the driver multiple times.
Branded a ‘Danger to the public.’
At his trial in 2006, Georcelin pleaded guilty to two robberies and one attempted robbery. His mitigating council Matthew Maynard pleaded that drugs destroyed Georcelin’s potential career as a professional footballer, but that failed to impress the judge. Sentencing him, the Judge branded him ‘a danger to the public’, and he was sentenced to prison for an indefinite time. Georcelin appealed his sentence, but the appeal was quashed.
In 2017, Georcelin, then aged 33, broke out of Springhill open prison triggering a major manhunt. Since then there appears to have been no further news on his whereabouts.
Justin Georcelin’s journey from promising football star to long term prisoner and crack addict is indeed a sad story of decline paved with class A drugs. But it is difficult to sympathise with violent knife crime and the terror he and his fellow criminals inflicted on the public. He should have stuck to football.