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30 of the biggest ‘Judas’ transfers in recent football history


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Switching to the enemy - Pig heads, jeers and insults

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Emmanuel Adebayor of Manchester City celebrates in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Manchester, England.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Emmanuel Adebayor of Manchester City celebrates in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
It’s a well-known fact that leaving the club you’ve played at for years and disregarding your adoring fans to switch to the “archenemy”, or your club’s biggest rival, is definitely a no-go. 

And yet, in the history of football, this is exactly what some of the stars of the have done. The reactions from fans have been quite serious, mostly. Flying pig heads, jeers, insults, endless obscenities … the list goes on. We’ve picked out 30 of the biggest ‘Judas transfers’ in recent football history for your enjoyment, from Germany, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Scotland.

Some of the game’s best players have gained respect while playing at two or three clubs during their career, but others are still considered unwelcome. This is especially true for those players who switched back and forth between rival clubs several times. The decision is always the player. Freedom of choice in this profession means that if a player is no longer happy at his current club, he can simply transfer to another. But the fans aren’t quite so welcoming when the player returns.

A deceased legend and the beau of football are represented in this ranking. The beau had to run for cover. We’ve given first place to the former coach of what is arguably the best club in the world at present. Most cases involve players transferring directly to their rivals or other hated top teams. But some also had a brief stay at another club in the meantime.

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Judas transfers 30 – 26: From the King of Ajax to the Italian wizard

30. Johann Cruyff (Ajax to Feyenoord) – Even a legend can be unfaithful

1987: Franz Beckenbauer (right) of West Germany stands with Johan Cruyff of Holland during the European Championship qualifying match between Holland and Hungary in Holland. Holland won the match 2-0.
1987: Franz Beckenbauer (right) of West Germany stands with Johan Cruyff of Holland during the European Championship qualifying match between Holland and Hungary in Holland. Holland won the match 2-0. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/Allsport

Johan Cruyff is considered the figurehead of Dutch football. The death of Europe’s footballer of the century in 2016 was felt not only in his homeland, but also internationally.

During his active career, he played at Barcelona among others. His move from Ajax to Feyenoord, however, caused a great stir. Not only did the former striker play at Ajax in his youth, but this is also where his professional career began. The vice world champion of 1974 spent his first nine years there and completed 239 games, in which he scored 190 goals.

After Cruyff spent some time abroad at other clubs, he returned to his home club in 1981. In his first year back he led Ajax to the league title and Ajax won the double just a year later. After that, however, the then 36-year-old was not offered a new contract. Cruyff was so disappointed that he promptly moved to the club’s arch-rival in Rotterdam. The Dutchman had another outstanding season at Feyenoord and snatched both – the league title and the cup away from his former club. He was also voted Footballer of the Year in the Netherlands.

Cruyff then decided to finally bring an end to his career. A year later, he became the coach of none other than Ajax. The Ajax fans had forgiven him after winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1987, thus marking their first international triumph for the club in 14 years.

29. Manuel Neuer (Schalke to Bayern) – He wanted title glory

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - APRIL 18: Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Muenchen gestures during the Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on April 18, 2015 in Sinsheim, Germany.
SINSHEIM, GERMANY - APRIL 18: Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Muenchen gestures during the Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on April 18, 2015 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
It’s almost been forgotten that Manuel Neuer had a hard time when he moved to Munich.

The German international is now an indispensable member of Bayern Munich’s team. But Neuer was in goal for Schalke during his youth and played for them in the Bundesliga for five years before switching to Germany’s record-holding champions.

As rumours surrounding his transfer came to the fore, the goalie had to contend with traitor allegations and hostility from the Schalke fans. Surprisingly, the Bayern fans didn’t actually want to have Neuer at first and held up signs saying “No Neuer” in the cup tie between the two sides.

Neuer still came under attack while wearing the Bayern jersey. Things have settled down in the meantime yet he is still mercilessly booed in Gelsenkirchen. Westphalians seldom forget – and certainly not too quickly.

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28. Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea) – the finest transfer farce

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Ashley Cole of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on September 20, 2009 in London, England.
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Ashley Cole of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on September 20, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
His nickname “Cashley Cole” came about following his transfer from Arsenal to local London rivals, Chelsea.

Ashley Cole played for Arsenal in his youth before signing his first professional contract there in 1999. Cole played for the Gunners for seven years and featured in 156 games, eventually stepping up to the English national team.

After that came his controversial move to Chelsea. The full-back had allegedly already been in contact with the rival side without having informed Arsenal. This not only provided plenty of ammunition for the English press, including a heated verbal exchange, but also a hefty fine. Transfer negotiations also proved rather difficult thanks to the nature of the transfer.

A conclusion was reached when the two clubs agreed that blues player William Gallas would be thrown in as compensation alongside the £5 million transfer fee. The fact that Cole only switched clubs and didn’t change city just because of the salary made many fans in England angry. Cole eventually moved on to LA Galaxy in America. He is still not welcome at Arsenal.

27. Andreas Möller (Dortmund to Schalke) – the cry-baby with thick skin

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MAY 3: Goalkeeper Bernd Dreher of Uerdingen and Andreas Moeller (R) of Dortmund battle for the ball during the bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and KFC Uerdingen 05 on May 3, 1996 in Dortmund, Germany.
DORTMUND, GERMANY - MAY 3: Goalkeeper Bernd Dreher of Uerdingen and Andreas Moeller (R) of Dortmund battle for the ball during the bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and KFC Uerdingen 05 on May 3, 1996 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Bongarts/Getty Images)
Andreas Möller actually makes it into our top international traitors’ list.  As a footballer, he has won pretty much everything there is to win. As a coach and manager, his achievements remain more limited.

Moeller was the first player who was banned for diving by the German Football Association (DFB).

After six years (1994 – 2000) and 153 games for Borussia Dortmund, Möller moved to archrivals Schalke 04. An absolute no-go, especially after he had previously claimed to be a Borussian at heart. Following the move, Dortmund fans branded him as Judas. And even Schalke followers weren’t too keen on welcoming him since Möller had once flipped the bird at them.

During the first home game he was booed and fans displayed banners saying “Piss off Möller” and “Welcome to white and blue hell, you worm”. After three successful years with the Royal Blues including two titles in the German Cup, Möller left Gelsenkirchen again. Entirely respected.

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26. Andrea Pirlo (Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus) – Italian maestro with no club loyalty

TURIN, ITALY - APRIL 10: Andrea Pirlo of Juventus celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter final match between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais at Juventus Arena on April 10, 2014 in Turin, Italy.
TURIN, ITALY - APRIL 10: Andrea Pirlo of Juventus celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter final match between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais at Juventus Arena on April 10, 2014 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus are the most successful soccer clubs in Italy. That’s why a great rivalry exists between them. The local feud still continues between the Milanese clubs; and Andrea Pirlo has played for all three.

After a loan spell and only two seasons, he left Inter Milan for around €17.5 million and moved to local rivals AC Milan. Pirlo enjoyed not only his longest, but also his most successful time while wearing the red and black jersey.

In ten years and 284 games for the red and blacks, he twice won both the championship and the Champions League as well as the Italian Cup. The world champion then moved to Juventus on a free transfer. His weak performance during the 2010/11 season gave AC Milan reason to doubt the 32-year-old’s abilities.

Pirlo was back on track at Juve and became the central playmaker. He won four consecutive championship titles with Juventus. He finally moved on to Major League Soccer when playing for New York City FC. The architect is still controversial among fans in Milan. But the proud Milanese have almost forgiven him following his marvellous appearances in the national team.

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