Football is filled with tales of deceit and deception. It’s a part of the game. Players and managers fall out, players and teammates fall out and players and teams fall out.
But, with power shifting more and more in favour of the player in the modern game, it is usually them doing the back-stabbing.
Here are six of the best examples of players turning on their teams…
Ahh, a nice current example. Wherever Adrien Rabiot is mentioned, so is the phrase ‘contract rebel’, and he’s been linked with just about every club under the sun so far this summer.
Rabiot’s back-turning in Paris was not a new experience for the midfielder, after he behaved in similar fashion following his snubbing from the 2018 World Cup squad. After learning said news, he vowed to retire from international football indefinitely, with just 23 years in his legs. Very mature.
Of course Roy Keane makes an appearance here. The man just screams fallout, doesn’t he? So it was no surprise when at the start of the 2005/06 season, after this very challenge pictured above had forced him to the sidelines for a sustained period of time, the combative midfielder upped and left Old Trafford by ‘mutual consent’ in November.
‘Mutual consent’ is the nice way of putting it, especially after you’ve publicly criticised your manager’s pre-season set-up, at least six of your teammates’ performances at the start of the season and basically death-stared every other member of staff for 12 years. Yeah, ‘mutual consent’ sounds about right.
Everybody talks about Raheem Sterling’s ‘outrageous’ move from Liverpool to Manchester City in 2015, but at least the Reds recouped £52m in the transaction. That’s £52m more than they did when hometown hero Steve McManaman decided he was too big for Anfield.
That’s right, the midfielder left for Real Madrid on a free, thanks to that good old Bosman ruling, leaving the team grieving both the loss of a world-class talent and absolutely zero financial gain. Hell, McManaman didn’t just turn on his team, he turned on his sponsor too, embroiling himself in a year-long dispute with Umbro just before he swapped Merseyside for Madrid.
This is the visual footballing representation of Ashley Cole stabbing Arsenal in the back. Good ol’ Cashley. In a famous, famous turn of events, the greatest left back the Premier League has ever seen (and that’s a patented fact) turned his back on the Gunners after they refused to pay him what he was worth.
Which, looking back at it, was cut-throat, but sort of fair enough…
Ahhh yes, Judas himself. Good old Sol Campbell. If you thought Ashley Cole’s journey from north to west London was controversial, then how about Campbell’s swapping of north for, well, north.
Inspired by McManaman’s use of the Bosman ruling to cut ties for no financial reward, the centre back ran his contract down at Spurs, and then ran down the road to Arsenal. It doesn’t get more ruthless than that.
…Or does it?
…Because, amid cries of ‘hold my beer, Campbell and Cole’, William Gallas went one better than both. That’s right, not only did Gallas turn his back on Chelsea in 2006 – according to an official statement from the club themselves, the defender had vowed to score an own goal in the opening game of the 2006/07 season if he didn’t get his move – he then did the same thing with Arsenal.
After publicly criticising several high-profile teammates (as captain), the Frenchman went and did a Sol by running down his contract, and then did the reverse Sol (after doing the reverse Ashley) by swapping the Gunners for Spurs when the time came. A true ‘turned on their team’ hero.
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