From Tevez to Costa: Seven times footballers betrayed their teams for personal gain

Omar Karmani 13:12 04/04/2017
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  • The so-called Judas' of football.

    Uncertainty continues to loom across the Arsenal camp amid the 2-2 draw against Manchester City at the weekend.

    While Arsene Wenger’s future at the club remains a conundrum likely to anger fans, the lack of positive results and an abysmal sixth position isn’t alleviating the onus.

    If this was enough to worry the Gunners then a recent interview will undoubtedly strike fear into their hearts. On international duty, the Chilean media approached star striker Alexis Sanchez who expressed a desire to stay in London, but “with a team winning things”.

    This sparked speculation surrounding the 28-year-old’s future at the Emirates Stadium. Sanchez’s contract is due to expire in 2018, and a shock move to rivals Chelsea is on the cards considering Diego Costa’s future at Stamford Bridge is also unsteady.

    In light of what would be an extraordinary development, Sport360 remembers instances when star players betrayed their colours for personal gain.

    Luis Figo (Real Madrid to Barcelona)

    Following a transfer ban preventing him from entering into Italy’s top tier, the Portuguese midfielder opted to sign for Barcelona. Instrumental in the Catalan side’s attack, spearheaded by the likes of Rivaldo and Kluivert, he lifted multiple La Liga titles at the Camp Nou,

    However, lauds soon turned to curses in mid 2000 when Real Madrid triggered Figo’s hefty buyout clause, claiming him for then-record fee of $60.1m. Memory tarnished, the former Sporting maestro lost his reputed status. This deep-seated hatred spiralled out of control during a memorable El Clasico fixture in Catalunya when audience members launched all manner of objects at their former player when he neared the sidelines. The severity got to a level prompting the referee to call for a momentary stoppage of play.

    Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea)

    The former England international is well-accustomed to drama outside 90 minutes of official football. Aside from his controversial private life, Ashley Cole rose through the ranks at boyhood club Arsenal going as far as impressing Arsene Wenger when Sylvinho was forcibly sidelined due to injury. Even when the Brazilian recovered, Cole continue to furnish his role as left-back, playing a crucial part in the Gunners’ Invincibles run.

    The beginning of the end of Cole’s tenure at Arsenal started after accusation he established inappropriate contact with league rivals Chelsea. An FA-imposed fine didn’t deter the Londoner from flirting with the men at Stamford Bridge. At the end of the season, Arsenal kicked off negotiations for an extended contract which left the England international “trembling with anger”. Chelsea offered a greater sum of money and Arsenal fans have yet to forgive “Cashley” for leaving.

    Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal)

    Similar to Ashley Cole’s story, Sol Campbell rose to prominence in the youth division, becoming an overarching figure at the heart of Tottenham’s backline. Adored by fans at White Hart Lane, Campbell earned their contempt with a shock decision in the summer of 2001.

    With rumours suggesting a move to Highbury, the centreback refused an offer that would have hailed him as Spurs’ highest paid player ever. Citing a desire for Champions League football and title contention, the former England international allowed his current deal to expire before joining rivals Arsenal on a free transfer, kick-starting a highly successful spell in North London.

    Diego Costa (Brazil to Spain)

    Arguably one of the more polarising figures in modern football, Diego Costa is subject to hate for his aggressive, at times deemed unsportsmanlike, conduct on the football pitch. However, this anger derived pales in comparison to the time he angered an entire nation for turning down the offer to feature.

    In 2013, the Chelsea striker was selected by manager Scolari to represent Brazil in friendly matches against Italy and Russia. Upon granted Spanish citizenship months later, Costa was technically not confined to a single national side, prompting him to make an official request to play for the Iberians. His manager wasn’t pleased to say the very least and a negative reception during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is testament.

    Luis Enrique (Real Madrid to Barcelona)

    Regarded as a promising prospect in Spanish football, Luis Enrique left his hometown club Sporting Gijon for Real Madrid in 1991. After five seasons at the Bernabeu, he failed to garner the support and admiration of the Madridistas. The Asturian later confessed that his time at Real Madrid was a nightmare, feeling estranged by coach Jorge Valdano, who often let the midfielder sit out games.

    His successor Fabio Capello did all in his power to keep Enrique but it was already too late – Barcelona swooped in and won the race to sign the prodigal midfielder. With the Blaugrana, the Spaniard did little to conceal his emotions, celebrating all five goals scored against Madrid with particular fervour.

    Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli to Juventus)

    After struggling to find first-team football with Real Madrid, Gonzalo Higuain decided his stint in the Spanish capital had its day. With multiple clubs in the mix, the Argentine was brought to Naples to fill the void left by Edinson Cavani. His prolific goal-scoring record made him a household name in the eyes of the Partenopei, ending the season with 36 goals in the Serie A alone.

    The rivalry between Napoli and Juventus has grown in recent years with the latter embodying the most tangible threat to the Bianconeri’s title hopes. Citing his disrespect for club president Aurelio de Laurentiis, the 29-year-old wasted no time packing his bags for Turin once Juventus triggered his €90m buyout clause.

    Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)

    As product of Dortmund’s youth academy, Mario Gotze began his journey at the club at eight years of age. Since then, the attacking midfielder worked his way into the starting eleven, playing an important part in his side’s record-breaking Bundesliga triumph in 2012.

    Dortmund continued to impress in Europe the following season, thanks to the formidable attacking trident featuring Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus. But the relationship with the club later went sour when transfer speculation hinted Gotze would be leaving for fierce rivals Bayern Munich. What made matters worse was when an announcement followed hours before Dortmund’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, much to Jurgen Klopp’s annoyance.

    After a difficult spell at Bayern Munich, the 24-year-old confirmed a return to the Westfalenstadion once again. The reception upon his arrival was mixed – the Yellow Wall  reluctant to fully accept their former prodigy among their ranks after fraternising with the enemy.