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Swapping Tottenham for Arsenal, Celtic for Rangers and Leeds for Manchester United – Football’s most shocking transfers

It’s fairly easy to rile a whole fanbase, just ask one of this lot!

Each one of these footballers made the unpopular decision to leave either in controversial circumstances or to play for a hated rival.

We’re assuming printing those ‘Judas’ signs on pieces of paper was worth the money to those Tottenham fans angry at Sol Campbell moving to better his career

Below are 11 deals that have seen plenty of anger spill out from the stands at various football grounds, including Glasgow, London as well as Florence over the years.

Here, ranks them by the despair caused by their transfers, kicking off with Alan Smith leaving Leeds United for Manchester United.

11. Alan Smith moves from Leeds to Man United

The boyhood Leeds fan once claimed he would never join Man United and was in tears when his beloved Whites were relegated in 2004.

Still, following the drop the club were forced to accept a £7m bid from their hated rivals and Smith wasn’t too popular with supporters, although the player probably wouldn’t have chosen Old Trafford if it had been up to him.

Leeds legend Peter Lorimer has since revealed that, of the interested clubs, Man United were the only ones prepared to pay the transfer fee in full, rather than spread out payments.

“Leeds fans didn’t want him to go there but as far as the club is concerned, Alan Smith going there probably saved us from going into administration or liquidation a lot earlier than we did,” he said.

11. Alan Smith moves from Leeds to Man United
Alan Smith’s move was one of the rarest in football

10. Nick Barmby swaps Everton for Liverpool

Everton were shocked when Barmby rejected a lucrative new contract to keep him at Goodison in the summer of 2000 because he wanted to play for Liverpool.

The Toffees’ chairman Bill Kenwright had previously pleaded Barmby’s case with England manager Kevin Keegan in an attempt to get the player more international recognition and was stunned when told of Barmby’s desire to move across Stanley Park.

“It was hearing he had used six of the worst words in the English language as far as Everton fans are concerned: ‘I want to play for Liverpool,’” he said.

He was the first player to swap blue for red since Dave Hickson in 1959 and when the Everton fans gave him stick at Anfield in the October Merseyside derby, he popped up with a goal and celebrated wildly, as Liverpool won 3-1.

10. Nick Barmby swaps Everton for Liverpool
Everton fans were fuming when Barmby moved to Anfield

9. Carlos Tevez is welcomed to Manchester after leaving United for City

Tevez was very popular at Man United during a successful two-year loan spell where he won the Champions League in 2008, with fans regularly chanting: ‘Fergie, sign him up’.

A year later, though, he was a Man City player – the first to move directly to the club since 1999 – and City supporters carried on the chant just to rub it in.

The club, meanwhile, celebrated the deal publicly with a huge billboard reading: ‘Welcome to Manchester’ in a nod to the fans’ claim that their club is the only one in Manchester given that Old Trafford lies outside the city boundaries.

Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t impressed: “a small club with a small mentality,” he said at the time.

9. Carlos Tevez is welcomed to Manchester after leaving United for City
Carlos Tevez burnt his bridges in Manchester

8. Ashley Cole leaves Arsenal for London rivals Chelsea

Though it has no doubt faded over the years, Arsenal fans still reserve a special hatred for Cole.

He joined Chelsea in 2006 after his relationship with the Gunners turned sour following allegations of tapping up in 2005 and he fanned the flames when he revealed in his autobiography the anger he felt at being offered a new £55,000-a-week contract by Arsenal.

This gave rise to the nickname ‘Cashley Cole’, though his quotes have been taken slightly out of context in that he believed he was being offered considerably less than the Gunners had initially promised to pay him.

8. Ashley Cole leaves Arsenal for London rivals Chelsea
After all the abuse, Cole will no doubt think it was worth it after a successful stint with Chelsea

7. Johan Cruyff leaves Ajax for Feyenoord

Ajax decided not to offer Cruyff a new deal, so what could he do to spite them? Join fierce rivals Feyenoord, of course.

He had starred in Ajax’s three successive European Cups between 1971 and 1973, but in 1983 at the age of 37 he joined Feyenoord, a team who often like to remind Ajax they were the first Dutch club to win Europe’s biggest prize (in 1970). And by the end of the campaign, even the most die-hard Feyenoord fan had warmed to the idea of Cruyff playing for their team.

How could they not when they were celebrating a league and cup double with him in the side, along with the emergence of a young player named Ruud Gullit?

Johan Cruyff in action for Feyenoord is a little odd on the eyes
Getty – Contributor

6. Paul Ince goes from hero to zero after Man United picture

Ince was West Ham’s bright young talent in the 1980s and Hammer of the Year in 1989, but the boyhood Irons fan incurred the wrath of fellow supporters when he left that year.

West Ham were relegated and it was always going to be hard to keep the midfielder, but after he was pictured in a Man United shirt BEFORE actually signing for the club he was forever known as Judas.

He has since explained it was done before he went on holiday, so his break was not interrupted by coming back for the obligatory snap once the deal was completed. However, it was accidentally published and the Upton Park faithful never forgot and reminded him of their feelings towards him every time he played them.

Paul Ince was given a boisterous reception at Upton Park
Getty Images – Getty

5. Sol Campbell causes outrage in north London

Campbell was one of the brightest young talents to have come through the youth ranks at Tottenham and fans loved him.

He was wanted across Europe and Spurs could have sold him for around £25m when it would have been one of the biggest fees in history, instead he stalled on a new deal.

Any respect supporters in N17 still had for Campbell was lost as soon as he signed for north London rivals Arsenal in 2001 for nothing, where he would become part of the Invincibles side that won the Premier League title at White Hart Lane. Ouch.

2. Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal (2001)
Sol Campbell’s name is still the subject of vile taunts by some Spurs fans

4. Man United pinch Eric Cantona from Leeds

The moral of this transfer tale is that it never hurts to ask.

When Leeds attempted to sign Man United full-back Denis Irwin in November 1992 they were rebuffed, only for the Red Devils to counter with a speculative offer for mercurial Frenchman Cantona, who’d won the title with the Yorkshire club earlier that year.

Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson agreed to the £1.2m deal and Sir Alex Ferguson got his man. Cantona’s status as a hero among Leeds fans understandably disappeared, but a lot of anger was aimed at Wilkinson for letting him go for so little.

4. Man United pinch Eric Cantona from Leeds and make ‘Ooh, aah, Cantona’ their own
Eric Cantona won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups at Old Trafford

3. Luis Figo moves from Barca to Real and pigs fly

Figo was a Barcelona star and part of a team which racked up two titles, a Spanish Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup, but when Real Madrid called in 2000 he couldn’t turn them down.

“I came to Madrid to win more titles and for prestige. And on better financial terms, of course,” he said. It was a bitter pill for Barca fans to swallow as they watched Figo herald Madrid’s ‘Galactico’ era and they never forgave him, with one particular Clasico at the Camp Nou standing out.

In November 2002 a variety of objects, including coins, bottles and the head of a pig showered the pitch as Barca supporters showed their former player how much they disliked him. Figo went on to win two Spanish titles and the Champions League with Madrid.

3. Luis Figo moves from Barca to Real and pigs fly
Luis Figo became a Galactico but was it worth all the hate?

2. Roberto Baggio joining Juve causes a riot in Florence

Fiorentina fans hate Juventus. The dislike stretches back to 1982 when Juve snatched the title from their grasp in controversial circumstances on the final day of the season, while the Old Lady also beat them in the 1990 UEFA Cup final.

So when Fiorentina’s golden boy Baggio was sold to their rivals for £8m shortly afterwards, fans rioted. He returned to Florence as a Juve player in 1991 and the team bus required a police escort through the streets.

During the game, he received all sorts of abuse, but the game ended in a home win, which also saw Baggio refuse to take a penalty. He was later substituted and managed to wind up the Juve fans, too, when he stopped to pick up and drape a Fiorentina scarf around his neck while walking off the pitch.

2. Roberto Baggio joining Juve causes a riot in Florence
Roberto Baggio caused an uprising in Florence

1. Mo Johnston manages to alienate two sets of supporters

Johnston’s arrival at Rangers in 1989 managed to anger fans on both sides of the Glasgow divide.

Having scored 52 goals in three seasons at Celtic, Johnston spent two years at Nantes in France and was expected to don the green and white shirt on his return to the Scottish league.

He was even pictured in the summer of 1989 alongside Hoops boss Billy McNeill, and said: “There’s only one team I want to play for and that’s Celtic.” But nothing had been officially signed and Rangers manager Graeme Souness – no stranger to controversy – pounced and took Johnston to Ibrox, making him the club’s first major Catholic signing.

He slowly won over sceptical Gers fans, thanks to 31 goals in 76 games, plus wildly celebrating his goal in the Old Firm derby.

1. Mo Johnston manages to alienate two sets of supporters
Mo Johnston did eventually win over Rangers fans

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