Transfers that see players cross divides can be a very sensitive subject for football fans, with many viewing the act as a pure betrayal. Luis Figo is perhaps the standout figure a man that bore the brunt of hatred from a group of supporters when he left Barcelona in 2000 to join Real Madrid, crossing the Clasico divide.
Sol Campbell is another man that broke the hearts of Tottenham Hotspur fans when he opted to sign for their bitter rivals Arsenal, a move that sent shockwaves across North London. Both transfers remain a sore subject to this day for the supporters that were aggrieved.
Moving down the football pyramid, there are still moves that jar and surprise fans to this day, and we’ll now point out a couple that may have been overlooked, but at the time were controversial, to say the least.
Michael Chopra (Cardiff to Sunderland)
Chopra was certainly a divisive figure in the North East after coming through Newcastle United’s Academy. He scored his first Premier League goal for the Magpies in a 4-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light before moving to Cardiff. The forward enjoyed playing against the Black Cats, notching a brace for the Bluebirds on Wearside in a 2-1 triumph over Roy Keane’s side in 2006. Keane noted the performances of Chopra and made the bold move to approach Cardiff for his signature following Sunderland’s promotion to the Premier League in 2007.
Sunderland paid £5m for the former Magpie, which raised a lot of eyebrows on Wearside regarding his loyalties. Those notions were dispelled after Chopra screamed in delight after scoring a last-minute winner against Tottenham on the opening day of the season, and he would play a crucial part in maintaining Sunderland’s top-flight status. However, his Newcastle roots played a role in his downfall as Sunderland fans failed to forgive him for a miss/cross that evaded both the back of the net and Kenwyne Jones’ boot. Their relationship disintegrated before he left the club in 2009, returning to Cardiff.
Still, he left an indelible mark in the North East, and the rest of the world. Though most notably, his impact was felt in India as he produced a legacy by being the first player of Indian descent to play in the Premier League. Representation is certainly important and for many, Chopra’s presence in top-flight football was significant as a milestone, of sorts. With India’s national sport being cricket, and no success with their football team in the World Cup in the past, it’s perhaps no surprise that so many rallied behind Chopra’s success in England.
He certainly put India on the map and was a big draw for introducing fans to Newcastle and Sunderland in the Premier League along with Cardiff City. Of course, things have changed massively since Chopra was active. In the modern, digital era, it’s so much easier to follow the Premier League across the globe. For example, best football betting sites in India shows that Betway is ranked as the number one option with positive customer reviews and great quality-for-money promotions. Bettors in India have access to a variety of Premier League markets and betting odds for clubs across the board on a weekly basis, along with outright options throughout the year, with the potential of using the best betting offers available. Although his career at the top has ended, Chopra now plays in the Northern League, still enjoying a unique place in the history of Indian players in English football.
Glenn Murray (Brighton to Crystal Palace)
Murray was a hero for Brighton in their run to the League One crown in the 2010/11 season under Gus Poyet, scoring 22 goals. However, the forward would stun the Seagulls by rejecting their offer of a new contract and opting to leave the club on a free transfer. Brighton fans were naturally sad to see their leading man depart, but he would leave the sourest of tastes in the mouths of supporters by signing a contract with the Seagulls’ bitter rivals Crystal Palace.
It took time for Murray to adapt to his new surroundings, although he did manage to score against the Seagulls on the road for Palace in a 3-1 win on the road. After a difficult first season at Selhurst Park, he found his form, scoring 30 goals for Ian Holloway’s men in 43 appearances in the Championship to fire the club into the top flight. Two of these came against Brighton at Christmas in a 3-0 win at home to send the Eagles to the top of the table. Although there was a slump in the second half of the term, Palace was promoted at the expense of their rivals, edging out a 2-0 victory in the playoffs before beating Watford in the playoff final. The result further twisted the knife for Brighton fans.
The story does have a happy ending unlike the tale of Chopra as Murray returned to Brighton to complete the job for the Seagulls, scoring 23 times to lift the club to the Premier League. Unlike at Palace where he was deemed surplus to requirements, Murray found a role in the top flight and scored vital goals to establish the Seagulls as a Premier League outfit.
Photo by Unsplash
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