Betrayal in football is something not taken lightly, so FOX Sports Asia identities the eleven biggest traitors the sport has to offer.
Football fans can be a fickle bunch.
Things can changed in a blink of an eye both on and off the football pitch.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for the fans to turn on their own players and managers. Especially if results don’t go their way.
But there is a special place in the fans’ twisted heart for those high profile players and managers who choose to “betray” their love and move to a rival club.
Just last season, Red Devils, and ex-Chelsea, manager Jose Mourinho had to endure chants of “Judas”, “You’re not special any more” and “It’s all your fault” from a section of Chelsea fans in the FA Cup quarter-finals tie between the Blues and United.
Mind you, this were probably the same fans who were cheering for the Portuguese manager when he won the league in 2015 with the Blues!
So who else had the misfortune to suffer such indignity? We select eleven of the biggest traitors that the world of football has ever seen…
West Ham to Tottenham Hotspur (£7 million, January 2004)
Jermain Defoe might be a name that is celebrated around the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, but it is a different story at London Stadium in West Ham.
The Hammers trainee has never really been forgiven for moving to their London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and never fails to garner a frosty reception whenever he is in town.
We are guessing that handing in a transfer request immediately after your club is relegated was not the wisest move Defoe could have made in 2003. Even if the current-Bournemouth striker did stay until the January transfer window.
Newcastle United to Manchester United (free transfer, July 2009)
After forcing a move to Real Madrid on the cheap in 2004, ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen further rubbed salt into Reds fans’ wounds by choosing to join his boyhood club’s domestic rivals Manchester United in 2009.
While the England national team striker was a shadow of his former goal scoring self at this point, the Kop did not let up on booing him on his Anfield return in October 2009.
Though he did not transfer directly to United from Pool, Owen should have heeded the lesson of former Red Devil Paul Ince – who became the scorn of Red Devils fans once he moved to Anfield via Inter…
Leeds United to Manchester United (£6 million + Danny Pugh, May 2004)
Falling from the great heights of a Champions League semis to the indignity of EPL relegation, Leeds United fans had to endure more heartbreak when homeboy Alan Smith chose to join United in 2004.
Despite crying and kissing the club’s badge in their last EPL match, the two-time Supporter’s Player of the Year striker went back on his words that he would never play for the Red Devils – reigniting the age-old cross-Pennine club rivalry!
Smith status amongst the Elland Road faithful instantly went from hero to zero, and he failed to live up to his potential after suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle in the 2006 FA Cup 1-0 loss to Liverpool for United.
West Ham to Chelsea (£11 million, July 2001)
If you ask any football fan, few would argue against the fact that Frank Lampard is one of the finest midfielders of all time. But ask any West Ham fan the same thing, and they will probably give you the cold shoulder.
Lampard, a boyhood Hammers fan, ruffled the Upton Park crowd’s feathers back in 2001 by pushing for a move to their London rival Chelsea. Upon his return, he was reminded of his betrayal with chants and boos from the home fans.
Nonetheless, the Chelsea all-time leading goal scorer went on to establish himself as a legend at Stamford Bridge with 211 goals and winning three league titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and Community Shields, one Champions League and Europa League!
Arsenal to Chelsea (£5 million + William Gallas, September 2006)
Better known as Cashley Cole, Ashley Cole is one dark spot of history that most Gunners fan would prefer to forget.
After months of contract negotiations, the English left-back left to join Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea revolution when the Gunners refused to meet his extravagant wage demands.
Perceiving his move as nothing but a cash grab, the Emirates crowd made sure that Cole knew what they thought of him on his return by booing and waving fake money.
Though he did play the victim card in his autobiography later on, it did little to improve his tarnished reputation.
Media Sports Investments (Manchester United) to Manchester City (£25.5 million, July 2009)
Once the toast of the red half of Manchester, Carlos Tevez sealed his United hero status when he scored two against Manchester City in the 2009 derby.
But when his loan was up at the end of that season, the Argentine striker chose to reject a five-year contract from the Red Devils in favour for City – becoming the first player since 1999 to do so!
While he did score three against United in the League Cup semis across two legs, Tevez’s time with the Citizens was marred by a fallout with manager Roberto Mancini. He won his third league title, second Community Shield and first FA Cup with the Sky Blues.
Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal (free transfer, July 2001)
Arguably the most controversial (and remembered) EPL transfer, Sol Campbell incurred the wrath of the Spurs fans when he made the journey on the seldom-travelled path from White Hart Lane to Highbury.
And the fans were rightfully upset, considering that the England defender promised not to join their London rivals and the fact that the free move resulted in a loss of £20 million profit for the club.
As a result, Campbell has been haunted by chants of boos, “Judas” and vile anthems every time he has returned to the Lane.
Even in Campbell’s later years with Portsmouth, four Spurs fans were arrested and banned from English football for life after singing offensive songs. For his troubles, the former Spurs captain managed to add two league titles and FA Cups to his trophy case.
Ah well, Spurs fans will always have Ledley King… #king4eva
Inter to Real Madrid (€46 million, August 2002)
Real Madrid to Milan (€8.05 million, January 2007)
One of the finest strikers to ever step on a pitch, Ronaldo was known more for his footballing abilities than his loyalty.
Though he never moved directly from one rival club to another, the Brazilian is quite the mercenary – being the ONLY player to play for rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as Inter and Milan.
But in his cruellest move, “The Phenomenon” snubbed his boyhood club Flamengo, who he was training with while recovering from knee surgery, to sign for their league rivals Corinthians in late 2008.
Damn baby, that’s cold!
Juventus to Inter (€24.8 million, August 2006)
Barcelona to Milan (€24 million, August 2010)
For someone as revered as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is unusual to be on such a list. But did you know that the United striker’s fabled career includes playing for both sides of the biggest rivalry in Italy?
Not only did he win the Serie A with Inter, Ibrahimovic also won the league with their sworn enemy Milan!
In addition, the Swedish striker also forced his way of Juventus earlier on after they were relegated due to the Calciopoli scandal in 2006. He chose to join their league and Calciopoli scandal legal opponents Inter.
And rumours has it that Ibrahimovic was keen to move to Real Madrid after falling out with his Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, only for the move to be blocked by club president Sandro Rosell.
Barcelona to Real Madrid ($60.1 million, July 2000)
Hailed as one of Portugal’s golden generation of footballers, Luis Figo was a beloved leadership figure at the Camp Nou with Barca.
But that status changed for the winger with his then-world record transfer ($60.1 million) to their bitter rivals Real Madrid!
On his return to his old stomping ground that season, Figo was visibly shocked by the hostile chants, banners and being pelted by missiles from his former fans – a severed pig’s head was notably thrown at him in 2002 while Figo was taking a corner!
Barcelona to Real Madrid (free transfer, 1996)
Luis Enrique is a Barca playing and managerial legend. But did you know that former midfielder/striker spent a huge chunk of his early playing career with their rivals Real?
Enrique spent a total of six years as a Madridista, scoring eighteen times, before the club allowed him to leave on a free to their archrivals Barca.
Little did Real know that they will pay dearly as the five-time league champion (three as a player and two as a manager) would come good – scoring 109 goals for the Catalan giants and winning them two league and Copa Del Rey titles, one Supercopa Espana, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup!