10 great players who were relegated
We like to think relegation is only reserved for those teams that aren’t good enough, but there have been some examples to the contrary in recent times. Not only is a demotion to the lower leagues the result of poor performance but also a dangerous tool in the hands of football associations. Step out of line far enough and bam! you're in the second division, or in the third and so on.
Considering how relegation is seen as a sign of failure, it's absolutely astonishing how many greats of the sport have suffered the embarrassment. While some of these incidents are common knowledge, some are less well known. Here’s a quick look at 10 great football players who were relegated:
#10 Nwankwo Kanu
Nwankwo Kanu signed with Ajax as a teenager in 1994 at a time when very few African players would find their way to the European elite of football. Even though he was the oldest looking 19-year-old anyone had ever seen, he won three consecutive Eredivisie titles with the Dutch club and a Champions League medal in 1995 when he came on as a substitute against AC Milan in the final.
However, he was faced with the prospect of never playing again right after when he was found to have a heart defect during his medicals with Inter Milan. After surgery and two years later, he appeared for Inter but failed to make any impact which is when he moved to England as Arsene Wenger’s latest signing in 1999.
Even though he was mercilessly ridiculed for looking much older than he claimed, he tasted success with the Gunners yet again. He was the north London side’s super sub who amassed two league titles and two FA Cup victories between 2001 and 2004. Even though he faced less game time thanks to a certain Thierry Henry, he endeared himself to Arsenal fans forever when he scored a 15-minute hat-trick against Chelsea to help his side win 3-2.
Following his departure from London, he moved to West Bromwich Albion followed by a spell at Portsmouth under manager Harry Redknapp. He quickly became a fan-favourite there earning the nickname ‘King Kanu’ as he helped his team to an FA Cup in 2008 but that’s where the fairytale ended. Portsmouth faced relegation in the midst of major financial crises and thus came the end of a very successful career. After numerous trophies and two African Footballer of the Year awards, Kanu retired from club football as a result of relegation.