5 Football Players Who Controversially Joined Their Clubs’ Rivals

Transferring to a rival club is seen as the equivalent of high treason in the world of soccer.

Loyalty is something that football fans expect from anyone who represents the team on and off the field. 

Thus, regardless of the circumstances that led to the move, a player or manager who chooses to join a rival team becomes a hate figure. 

Only players with little playing time, like Eto’o, or players who are widely admired, like Ronaldo Nazario, have escaped criticism despite playing for fierce rivals. 

Here are five stars whose decision to change teams angered fans.

1. Michael Owen

When his move to Real Madrid was announced in 2004, there were no complaints as fans understood his desire to play for the World’s biggest sporting club.

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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.

2. Fernando Torres

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.

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3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan shouldn’t 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.

4. 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.

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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.

5. 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.

A cunning plan from Florentino Perez 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.

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