The Frenchman, brother of the Chelsea striker Nicolas, arrived at Stark’s Park in May 2004 as part of a curious arrangement in which he invested around £300,000 to effectively “buy” the manager’s job.

A DJ and agent with no history of coaching, Anelka decided he had had enough of “the crazy things” he believed managers did and decided to have a bash himself, vowing to turn Raith into the third force in Scottish football. As experiments go, it was an unmitigated disaster.

During his five months in Kirkcaldy, Raith picked up just one point, and lost two assistant managers, Dave Martin and John Hollins, who both walked away before their reputations were entirely soiled. Anelka’s recruitment policy, picking up players from midnight football leagues in Paris and other inauspicious settings, did not go down well with supporters. 
He stepped down as manager, to be replaced by Gordon Dalziel, in October of that year and then left the club shortly afterwards, donating his investment to Raith’s youth development programme.

“What I wanted was complete control of all football matters,” he said in an emotional farewell address. “I believed in my thoughts and philosophy 100%. The truth is that I have over-stretched my limits. I quickly realised that there was more to the game in Scotland than I had thought.”

That seemed to be the end of his coaching aspirations as he fell off the football radar for the next five years. Now he has resurfaced in the United States, appointed head coach at the newly-formed AC St Louis, one of the founding members of the new North American Soccer League that, along with the United Soccer Leagues, will make up the Second Division of professional football behind the MLS. After much wrangling and negotiations, the new six-team league will kick off later this year as the popularity of soccer in the US continues to grow.

Anelka will be assisted by Francisco Filho, director of player development, a one-time coach at French Academy Clarefontaine, who claims credit in the team’s press kit for overseeing the development of Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Nicolas Anelka, Louis Saha, Jean-Pierre Papin and William Gallas, and who also spent some time on the coaching staff at Manchester United.

If those behind Anelka’s appointment in St Louis were aware of his history in Scottish football, then it clearly didn’t put them off. Nor has it Anelka, a US resident for the past five years, who spoke enthusiastically about the challenges ahead.

“We are very confident we can develop and produce players in St Louis that can become professional and hopefully transfer them to Europe because this is the goal. This is how we can make money,” he said, perhaps inadvertently explaining his true motivation behind accepting this new role. “This is how the club can survive, especially when you don’t have TV rights.

“We are going to try to play good football, pass the ball, with a lot of movement. America, for me, is the best in fitness in any sport. In Europe, it is more technical. So we are going to try to combine everything to try to play good football.”

Anelka admitted having little knowledge of American soccer and planned to hold trials to help source local talent. “We want to have open tryouts by the end of January,” he added. “If we can get players from St Louis, it would be great. It is very important for the team to have an identity and having players from St Louis makes sense.

“We do not know much about American players, so we are getting help. Internationally, we are already scouting and we have a few ideas but it is going to be very hard work. The time frame is very short.”

Anelka, though, is full of enthusiasm about the new project. “I came here to visit the facilities and they explained to me the whole concept. I said it was very exciting and so I said ‘Yeah, I want to be in’. After we talked together, it made sense for me to be the head coach.”

Anelka made similar noises at Raith Rovers. Many in Kirkcaldy will be intrigued to see if this latest venture turns out the same way.