#10. Michael Owen
He’s now known for his interesting punditry but Michael Owen was also a pretty good footballer once. The forward started his career with Liverpool and became one of the best players in world football at Anfield. Owen spent eight seasons with Liverpool, winning the UEFA Cup and FA Cup with his teammates, and a Ballon d’Or for himself. Owen then played for Real Madrid and Newcastle before his reputation as a traitor was established. In 2009 Owen surprised many by signing for the archrivals of his former club, Manchester United. Owen spent three seasons at Old Trafford, winning the Premier League in 2011. Liverpool fans are divided about this but the ones who are against Owen really do see his signing for United as treachery.
#9. Manuel Neuer
Many expected Manuel Neuer to establish himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world when he first broke into the Schalke first team. That is certainly what has happened but unfortunately for Schalke fans, Neuer has done so while playing for archrivals Bayern Munich. Neuer joined Schalke at a young age and broke into the first team in 2006. He spent five seasons as first choice and was made captain in 2010. However just a few months later Neuer announced that he would not be renewing his contract at the club and signed for Bayern Munich.
#8. Robin Van Persie
In one of the most shocking transfers in recent history, Robin Van Persie moved from Arsenal to Manchester United in 2012 after spending eight seasons at the London club. The move hurt Arsenal fans even more after Van Persie scored 26 goals in his first season to secure the Premier League title for Manchester United. Van Persie undoubtedly enjoyed his best season at Arsenal in 2011-12. The forward scored 30 Premier League goals and was named captain following the departure of Cesc Fabregas the previous summer.
#7. Mathieu Valbuena
You may remember Mathieu Valbuena as the small, skilful midfielder who was excellent for the French National Team during the 2014 World Cup. Valbuena joined Marseille in 2006 and was one of the star players in a side which won Ligue 1 in 2010. Valbuena was adored, so much so that when he left Marseille for Dynamo Moscow in 2014, the French club retired his number 28 shirt by way of tribute to the midfielder. So it probably surprised a few Marseille fans when Valbuena returned to Ligue 1 a year later playing for their rivals Lyon. Proof of this was made quite public when Marseille fans built a twenty foot effigy of Valbuena and hung it from a noose during a match between the two sides.
#6. Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole is often regarded as one of the best defenders England has ever produced, and rightly so. Cole was an incredible defender, an athletic attacker, and above all a consistent player who rarely made mistakes. He joined Arsenal at a young age and quickly broke into the first team. He was the first choice left back during the 2004 Invincibles team and won three FA Cups with the club. Arsenal supporters’ fondness for Cole ended in 2003 when he made the move across London to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Cole was accused of money-grabbing by the Arsenal fans, Ashley became Cashley, and The Gooners took every chance they could to remind the left back. Cole, meanwhile, probably had the last laugh as he won the Champions League, the Europa League, four FA Cups, and the Premier League title with the Blues.
#5. Cesc Fabregas
Another player lost by Arsenal in recent years is Cesc Fabregas. The midfielder was signed from Barcelona at a young age and ousted Patrick Vieira to become the club’s main midfielder. Fabregas was made Arsenal captain at the age of just 21. Admittedly Fabregas had spent three and a half years in Arsenal’s midfield but the move was still surprising. For years Fabregas flirted with a move to Barcelona and vice versa, the transfer finally happened in 2011 which still shocked many Arsenal fans. Fabregas’ reputation as a traitor was cemented in 2014 when he left Barcelona to return to the Premier League, only to move to London rivals Chelsea who were again managed by Jose Mourinho.
#4. Mario Gotze
The transfer of Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich is undoubtedly one of the coldest in recent years. Gotze joined Dortmund as an eight year old and broke into the first team in 2009. Within a few seasons Gotze was a crucial part of a Dortmund side which won its first Bundesliga title for over a decade. They won their second in 2012 and the following season came up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. However, just a few days before the final, Bayern announced that Gotze would be swapping Dortmund for Munich the following month. Bayern won the Champions League and Gotze has now won three consecutive Bundesliga titles with Munich.
#3. Mo Johnston
It’s rare that a player angers a club’s supporters just by signing for them but that is exactly what happened when Mo Johnston signed for Rangers in 1989. Johnston spent three seasons at rivals Celtic, firing the club to the Scottish league title and the Scottish Cup during his time there. He left for Nantes, but declared that he would re-sign for Celtic once his contract at the French expired in 1989. Johnston surprised everyone when he signed for rivals Rangers instead. Rangers supporters were angered by the signing due to the religious history of the two clubs. It was rare for Rangers to sign players who were openly Catholic which, along with Johnston’s Celtic past angered a large portion of fans. The forward changed all that then he scored an injury time winning goal against, who else, Celtic.
#2. Sol Campbell
The original traitor of the Premier League era was undoubtedly Sol Campbell. Campbell joined Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster and quickly progressed to the Spurs first team. Campbell remained there for nine seasons until he refused a new contract at the club in 2001. The centre back had previously stated in an interview that he would never sign for Arsenal but that is exactly what happened. Campbell became Judas to Spurs fans but once again, the player seemed to have the last laugh. Campbell was a part of the 2004 Invincibles team which won the Premier League title at White Hart Lane of all places.
#1. Luis Figo
The biggest traitor in football history is undoubtedly Luis Figo. He’s known as being one of the most technically gifted players of the last few decades and that is exactly what Luis Figo showed during his five seasons at Camp Nou. The winger won two La Liga titles with the club and developed into perhaps the best player on the planet. Barcelona fans quickly forgot that when Figo made the world record transfer to Real Madrid in 2000. Figo was the first of Real’s Galacticos, which was a stark contrast to everything Barcelona stood for at that time. Figo’s return to Camp Nou for the first time as a Madrid player was one of the most infamous el Clasico matches of all time. Supporters rained down both abuse and missiles on the player which took the form of bottles, mobile phones, and most memorably, a pig’s head.