Liverpool fans woke this morning and had to accept a brutal truth. Fernando Torres, arguably the club’s best player after Steven Gerrard, is no longer a Liverpool player. Instead, he will be plying his trade for their league rivals Chelsea.
The Reds and Blues have a little bit of history, that stems all the way back to the Jose Mourinho days and a certain debate over balls crossing lines. Naturally, Liverpool fans will be annoyed that they have lost Torres but they may be more annoyed that they lost him to Chelsea, a club that they managed to beat 2-0 earlier in the season.
No matter how much money you throw at them to sweeten the deal, it’s fair to say most Koppites will greet the transfer with abject horror. Torres will quite possibly have to face their wrath sooner than he thinks, with the two clubs meeting at Stamford Bridge this Sunday.
Here’s 5 other players, who have earned the title ‘turncoat’ following spells at rival clubs:
1) Wayne Rooney (Everton to Manchester United) – For many Evertonian’s, Rooney’s name has become blasphemy around their Goodison Park stadium. ‘Once a Blue, Now A Red, in our hearts you are dead’, read a famous banner held aloft shortly after his transfer for £20 million, down the road to Old Trafford. Everton fans are not the most forgiving in the world and even the fact that the figure has quickly rose to a much more substantial sum following appearances and add-ons has not placated them. Many see the amount of time, money and passion invested in Wayne by the club as haing been thrown back in their faces. The subsequent criticisms of David Moyes by Rooney in his ‘life-story’, published shortly after his arrival at Old Trafford, was the final straw.
The Rooney transfer saga brought Everton and Liverpool fans together, albeit for a brief period. Many saw Rooney’s transfer to Manchester as betrayal to the very city they called home. In fact, the Rooney name would have become mud on Merseyside where it not for his bride Coleen who still maintained her Scouse roots enough to act as unofficial ambassador for Liverpool’s women.
So it came as no surprise that when Wayne was caught cheating on her with prostitutes (whilst she was pregnant….charming fellow that he is) nowhere was the outrage more keenly felt than amongst the girls of Liverpool. What Wayne had done to ‘our Coleen’ was unforgivable in many people’s eyes.
2) Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal) – Rooney’s transfer might have been sweetened by the vast sums received for him, but Campbell’s transfer to the Gooners was even more depressing, given that Spurs didn’t receive a penny from it! Campbell moved in July 2001, and Spurs fans have still to forgive him.
Campbell was one of the highlights of their team for many years, particuarly at a time when they weren’t doing very well in the league and his move to their hated rivals was met with abject horror. At the time, England international Campbell could have had his pick of any club in Europe but wanted to stay in London.The signing might just have saved Arsene Wenger’s career, who was on the verge of losing club-captain Patrick Viera.
An ambitious signing like Campbell, convinced the Frenchman to stay and the team went on to win the FA Cup and the League in Campbell’s first season. He’s widely regarded by Arsenal fans as one of the club’s best defenders, forming a successful partnership with Tony Adams. Spurs fans, however, would probably like to forget he ever existed.
3) Carlos Tevez (Manchester United to Manchester City) – Another transfer which saw no money being paid to an actual club! City paid Tevez’s owners £25.5 million, and offered him £100,000 a week, a sum which no other club in the league was prepared to match. Tevez was frustrated at not being Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-pick, and felt that he could make more of an impact at Manhester City.
In a typical display of arrogance, which has made Ferguson one of the most successful managers in the world, Ferguson allowed the Argentine to go. The problems really started, when Tevez’s image was used on a billboard in the middle of Manchester city centre.
Tevez’s outline was drawn onto a blue background with a text which simply read, ‘Welcome To Manchester.’ United fans mocked the gesture, and it even got a reaction out of Sir Alex who stated that Manchester City were still a ‘small club.’ Incidentally, the poster managed to win the Premier League’s Best Marketing Award at the MBNA North-West Football Awards last October.
4) Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid) – European Footballer of the Year 2000 and FIFA World Player of the Year 2001 and official Portugese turncoat 2000. Figo was a fan favourite at Barcelona, and universally admired for his footballing skills. However, a few choice Catalan phrases were undoubtedly earned when he completed a move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2000 for 65 million Euros.
The 2 clubs hate each other, largely due to ancient grudges between Catalonia seperatists and the rulers of Spain. Whenever he returned to the Nou Camp, Figo was famously unable to take any corners because of all the debris being launched at his head.
The usual crisp packets, bottles and toilet paper sufficed, but on one occasion during a League Cup match in 2002, somebody chucked a pig’s head at the Portugal international. Figo went on to win 2 La Liga titles, and a Champions League with Madrid, and to all intents and purposes was as happy as a pig in the proverbial during his time there.
5) Any West Ham Players – (Various Clubs) Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Glen Johnson have all left the Hammers and gone on to have hugely successful careers, and West Ham fans never let them forget it either! The product of the club’s famous youth academy, West Ham never quite go to enjoy the fruits of their labours and are quite justifiably annoyed at this.
Of all of the above however, poor old Frank Lampard seems to get the lion’s share of the stick. His ‘old man’ Frank senior was a star at the club and Frank was supposed to follow in his footsteps. Naturally, some of the chants about him can get pretty nasty, but then West Ham fans aren’t known to be shrinking violets.
It would seem there’s a common pattern to the ‘Turncoat’ story. With the exception of Tevez, the main players in the list were virtual unknowns before their club nurtured their talent and turned them into truly great players. The reward for this, it would seem, is to have that devotion thrown back in their face in exchange for more money elsewhere. Perhaps this is the story behind the Torres deal. Liverpool turned Torres into the player he is today, and it seems Chelsea are about to reap the benefits. If I was a Liverpool fan, I should say he’s definitely in for some abuse on Sunday!