Moving from rival to rival
Luis Figo, Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000
Perhaps the most notorious transfers of all came when the Portuguese moved between the Spanish rivals. Real Madrid signed the winger for a fee in excess of £30m but despite such huge recompense for one of their star players, Barcelona fans were furious. When Figo returned to the Nou Camp in Real colours he was pelted with objects from the Barca fans, including, rather bizarrely, a pigs head.
Sol Campbell, Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001
Back in England, the then England defender caused a storm in north London with his decision to play for Arsenal. Campbell was a cult-hero at White Hart Lane but ran down his contract so he could leave on a Bosman free transfer. The world was his oyster – he could have played for any club in the world. But he elected to move a couple of miles down the road to Arsenal. ‘Judas’ is one of the kinder nicknames he’s been called by Spurs fans ever since.
Lee Clark, Newcastle to Sunderland, 1997
Clark’s move from Newcastle to fierce rivals Sunderland caused a bit of unrest at the time. Clark was a self-confessed Newcastle fan and had come through the youth-ranks at St James’ Park. But Sunderland fans gave him a chance and even cast their resentment aside after he helped them to the Division One title. But Clark blew it when he was pictured, rather foolishly, supporting Newcastle in the ’99 FA Cup Final. That alone could have been forgiven had he not been wearing a Sunderland-baiting t-shirt with the slogan ‘Sad Mackem Bastards’. He was swiftly moved on.
Ashley Cole, Arsenal to Chelsea, 2006
Cole’s move across London was about as messy as you could get. It started in 2005 with a ‘tapping-up’ enquiry in which Cole was found guilty of speaking to Chelsea about a possible move. He was fined for his indiscretion but he ended up signing a new contract with the Gunners. Yet he departed just a year later amid accusations that Arsenal were using him as a ‘scapegoat’. Cole would later reveal how he nearly swerved off the road when he heard Arsenal were ‘only’ offering him £55,000-a-week. Arsenal fans waved £20 notes at him when the two teams met and he’s been called Cashley by fans ever since.
Roberto Baggio, Fiorentina to Juventus, 1990
Fiorentina and Juventus are not traditional rivals but when Baggio moved just before Italia ’90 it caused a riot, literally. Baggio had become a cult hero during his five-year spell at Fiorentina and took them to the 1990 Uefa Cup final, where they were beaten by Juve. So when it was announced he was moving to their conquerors, Fiorentina fans were furious. Fans took the streets of Florence and 50 people were injured.
Paul Ince, West Ham to Manchester United, 1989
West Ham fans are used to their best players being picked off by so-called bigger teams but the transfer that took Ince to Old Trafford left a particularly bad taste in their mouths. In a major PR gaffe, ‘The Guv’nor’ was photographed in a Manchester United kit long before his £1m move was completed. Ince has been a hate figure at the Boleyn Ground ever since.
Mo Johnston, Celtic to Rangers (via Nantes) 1989
As contentious transfers go, this was a belter. A popular Celtic player in the mid-80s, he was offered the chance to return there after his French sojourn with Nantes. Indeed, he spoke enthusiastically of the idea. So when the (Catholic) Johnston signed for the (Protestant) Rangers, there were sections of both sets of fans who hated him for it.
Alan Smith, Leeds to Manchester United, 2004
Smith was a committed, badge-kissing, crying-when-relegated Leeds man through and through. So when he travelled across the Pennines to join the hated rivals in Manchester, it hurt far more than when Eric Cantona (not that big a deal at Leeds) or Rio Ferdinand (once a cockney…) made the switch.
Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth to Southampton (2004) to Portsmouth (2005)
Redknapp proved it isn’t just players who can cause a stir when he managed to annoy almost the whole of the South Coast. First he annoyed Pompey fans by shipping down the coast to hated rivals Southampton. Then he annoyed Saints fans by making the return journey a year later, before Portsmouth fans had got around to forgiving him. They did finally forgive him, and even loved him for winning the FA Cup. Then he moved on to Spurs and many fans went back to hating him.
Carlos Tevez, Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009
Should Rooney make the switch to City he has a recent precedent to judge his decision by. Tevez traded red for blue in 2009 when United failed to meet the demands of the Argentinean’s third party owners. City were willing to splash the cash and took Tevez to Eastland’s in a deal that was spun as a changing of the guard in Manchester. Tevez said at the time he hoped United fans would understand, but when he scored against them and cupped his ears in their direction, any chance of forgiveness were dashed. Should Rooney make the switch the intensity of feeling among United’s supporters is likely to be much, much stronger.
Wayne Rooney Manchester United Manchester City 2010…….