As a football fan like millions of others, I am attached to a particular club, and a few players will always be close to me no matter what. In my case, the team is Liverpool, and the players are Gerrard, Carragher, Hyypia and a few others. For a Barcelona fan it might be Puyol and Xavi, a United fan Scholes, Giggs and Neville, a Chelsea fan Terry, Lampard and Drogba, a Real Madrid fan Raul and Ramos, and this list goes on and on, be it any fan from any club.
Players like Zanetti, Neville, and Gerrard will be idolized for being those loyal and noble steeds who stayed with club even through the toughest of times. But many times, we forget that football is also a player’s livelihood and when times are tough loyalty often takes a backseat. Here’s a glance at some of the biggest traitors in the opinions of football fans, to have played the game:
1. Fernando Torres: Forgive me, but as a die-hard Liverpool fan I must put Torres on top of this list. After leaving Liverpool for a record British transfer fee of £50 million to Chelsea, Torres will be remembered as one of the biggest traitors in Liverpool history. He didn’t have a great time at Chelsea either, and was on a barren run which he finally ended against Aston Villa after 903 minutes without a goal. Though he didn’t have a great season himself, he led the Blues to their first UEFA Champions League and an FA Cup. I must admit that Liverpool used those 50 million pounds from the transfer quite poorly by buying Andy Carroll, and feel that if Torres had decided to stay at Anfield he would have had more success alongside Suarez.
2. Carlos Tevez: Traitorous in all aspects, period. Seeking a move to a bigger club from Corinthians, he simply refused to play for the club which forced the Brazilian side to sell him. He moved to West Ham and then Manchester United, but later, in a shocking deal, agreed to move to arch-rivals Manchester City, making him viewed as one of the greatest traitors ever by United fans. Unquestionably gifted, he has had his share of problems at the Etihad too, most recently the incident against Bayern Munich when he refused to come on as a substitute. Despite this, he was reinstated into the team later, and has somewhat regained his earlier form.
3. Ronaldo: The Brazilian one, NOT the Portuguese one. One of the best players to have ever graced the game, he won the Ballon d’Or thrice, a feat only matched by Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi. He had a knack of going to rival clubs, make it arch-rivals. He played for Barcelona, then went to Inter Milan (These aren’t arch-rivals, but wait). Then he went to Real Madrid, and then AC Milan. After losing his form and putting on weight, he went back to his origins in Brazil and played for Corinthians. And it doesn’t end there. Flamengo, the arch-rivals of Corinthians, had already agreed to sign him, but the striker had a change of heart and went to Corinthians. Though a player of the highest quality, he will be remembered for his ability to be a first-rate traitor.
4. Wayne Rooney: If anyone wants to learn how to betray the people who made them big, they should turn to Rooney. Aged nine, he joined the Everton youth academy and made his professional debut for the club in 2002. However, after just two years, he made a highly publicized move to Manchester United for a fee of £26.5 million, the highest ever fee paid for a player under 20. Okay, he moved to Manchester United, but he will be remembered for his goal against his boyhood club during which he kissed the United badge in front of a stand of Everton supporters. That incident invoked permanent hatred for him in the hearts of Everton fans.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Another first-rate traitor, he has never been known for his loyalty. After Juventus, when he was a part of the Calciopoli scandal and got relegated to Serie B, he moved to rival club Inter Milan, where he had a good first season, helping the Serie A side win the Serie A. He then moved to Barcelona, where he didn’t have a great time due to problems between him and then-manager Pep Guardiola. In July 2010 his relationship with Guardiola completely deteriorated, and he was loaned out to AC Milan, which became a permanent deal later, thus seeing him play for a rival club again. After two excellent seasons there, he moved to the cash-rich PSG, and may move to another club again. After all, who knows?
Other ‘honorable’ mentions: