Loyalty is something the fans of a football club demand from anyone representing the team both on and off the pitch. Thus a player or manager who decides to move to a rival club automatically becomes a pantomime villain irrespective of the circumstances which triggered the move. Only players who got very less playing time such as Eto’o or a player universally adored such as Ronaldo Nazario have escaped criticism while playing for heated rivals. Here we look at five superstars whose decision to switch clubs left fans unhappy,
5. Michael Owen
His name rarely gets mentioned today, but Owen was England’s “Golden Boy” after his incredible performance in the 1998 World Cup and was a Ballon d’or winner in 2001. When his move to Real Madrid was announced in 2004, there were no complaints as fans understood that his desire to play for the World’s biggest sporting club. But he never fulfilled his talent due to a series of injuries and by 2009 no top club really wanted him except Manchester United. Some Liverpool fans hate him to this day for choosing United while a fair few understand that as a player he did not have another option to remain in the Premier League
4. Fernando Torres
Unlike others in this list, Torres never played for Liverpool’s historic rivals Manchester United but the move to Chelsea jeopardized both his Liverpool legacy and playing career. Needless to say, Torres was an absolute beast at Liverpool and in spite of numerous rumors he promised Liverpool fans that he is still loyal to the club in a statement on August 3,2010. However, he handed in a transfer request six months later and moved to Chelsea in January 2011 for a record EPL fee. The manner of the move tarnished his image among Liverpool fans and he was a huge flop at Chelsea.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
A globe trotter like Zlatan should not be in this list but the manner in which he forced a move out of Juventus after the Calciopoli scandal deserves a mention. He was adamant on joining Inter Milan who were Juventus’ opposite party in the Calciopoli scandal and although he is not hated in Turin, no fan would fondly look back at his time with Juventus. He then decided to join Inter Milan’s rivals AC Milan on loan from Barcelona in 2010 and won the league with them. He is now enjoying a good run with Milan and his name elicits mixed emotions from supporters of Juventus and Inter Milan
2. Sol Campbell
As far as rivalries go, few are fiercer than the North London tussle between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Thus, Campbell’s decision to move on a free transfer to Arsenal from Tottenham earned him the nickname “Judas” from Spurs fans. Some aspects of the decision was understandable such as his desire to play for a club playing the Champions League and a contender for the title. But the fact that the transfer was free irked many fans as he had the option of signing a new contract and leaving the next season for an appropriate fee
1. Luis Figo
By far, the most controversial transfer saga football has ever seen, Figo had no choice but to leave Barcelona at the peak of his powers in 2000. Figo was an icon in Barcelona and had an incredible 1999/00 season playing for the Blaugrana and nobody ever thought that he would one day wear the Whites of Real Madrid. But a cunning plan from Florentino Perez, who was running for the post of Real Madrid president at that time, resulted in the most infamous transfer of all time. Perez secretly struck a deal with Figo’s agent, who thought Perez had little chances of becoming Real Madrid president. In the end, Perez did win the election and Figo was left with no choice but to honor the deal.