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SAM HAMMAM.

Born: Shweir, Lebanon. Date of birth: July 17, 1947. Age: 57. Sam Hammam's passion for tennis took him to Wimbledon - and while he was there he fell in love with football.

He left Beirut for Britain in 1975 so that his pregnant wife, Neda, could have their second child untroubled by civil war - and within two years he had bought a share of Wimbledon FC.

It was on June 17, 1977, they were elected to the Football League - and Hammam became owner and chairman in 1981.

Led the club from Division Four to the top flight.

The Dons won the FA Cup in 1988, having spent next to nothing on players until they paid out pounds 125,000 for John Fashanu in 1986.

Eventually left Wimbledon in 1997 - and bought Cardiff City in August 2000.

He injected pounds 3,139,558 and 64 pence into Cardiff City when he bought the club. The first pounds 1.5m of that money was to pay creditors and loans, another pounds 1m to cover expected losses over the first two years of Hammam's reign - and the balance to improve the squad.

He has since spent more than pounds 10m in transfers - and steered the Bluebirds up from Division Three.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 28, 2004
Words:206
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