Sunday, October 24, 2010

Top 10 Turncoat Badge-Kissers

10) Alexander Hleb (Barcelona)

A sparkling season with Arsena's title chasers of 2007-08 caught the attention of Barcelona, who signed up the talented Belarussian. Eager to impress the Camp Nou faithful, Hleb planted a smacker on the Blaugrana badge when he was unveiled. Not that it made much difference as he spent more time warming the bench than playing. Admitted afterwards that his move to La Liga was a mistake.

9) Ronaldo (Flamengo)

Returning to Brazilian football for the first time in over a decade, the superstar was handed a lifeline by Flamengo. Ronaldo spent four months training with the vultures in 2008 as he aimed to get his career back on track. However, fans were denied the chance to see him wear the black and red shirt as he signed for rivals Corinthians instead. Branded a traitor, despite never kicking a ball in anger for his childhood favourites, the legendary forward said he only signed for Corinthians as Flamengo never made him an offer.

8) Harry Kewell (Leeds United)

Along with his former club-mate Alan Smith, who kissed the Leeds badge when they were relegated in 2004 and then immediately signed for hated rivals Manchester United, Kewell irked Leeds fans on two separate occasions. He was accused of betraying Leeds fans after moving to Liverpool in 2003, when it emerged his agent pocketed a fortune.

Was back in the doghouse in 2008 when he joined Galatasaray as he was playing for Leeds when two of the English club's supporters were killed before a match between the sides in 2000. Aware that many Leeds fans were unhappy about the move, Kewell suggested that his transfer might help the healing process between the clubs. It didn't.

7) Matias Gimenez (Tigre)

A six-year servant with Tigre, the Argentinian switched to Boca Juniors for 2010. When the two teams met recently Gimenez opened the scoring for his new club and was initially restrained in his celebration, clasping his hands as if to say sorry for what he'd just done. A few seconds later he was locked in an embrace with the Boca badge. Oh dear...

6) Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal)

It would be fair to say that Emmanauel Adebayor's interpretation of the word 'loyalty' contrasts ever so slightly with those who support Arsenal. After indicating he was interested in making a move to Milan and several others the Togo striker pledged his support to the Gunners cause by kissing the badge in a pre-season friendly in 2008. Another year of speculation followed before he finally jumped ship to Manchester City. Picked up a fine and a ban for running the length of the pitch to taunt Gunners fans after scoring against them last season.

5) Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)

How Franck Ribery must pine for the two-year period between 2007 and 2009. He was immense for Bayern Munich, confirming his reputation as one of the finest players in the world, and appeared to be happy with his lot in Germany. Then Real Madrid came calling and his life, both on the pitch and off it, has never truly recovered.

Determined to leave the Allianz, he said it was "Real Madrid or nothing" but Bayern played hard ball with Los Blancos, with the Bundesliga team slapping a transfer fee rumoured to be €100 million on the Frenchman.

Ribery's stock hasn't recovered due to injuries and problems in his personal life. Now firmly at Bayern on their terms, club president Uli Hoeness said ahead of this season: "Franck owes us, he knows that himself". Ouch.

4) Mo Johnston (Celtic)

Scottish football was shook to its core in 1989 when former Celtic hero Mo Johnston dared to switch to Old Firm rivals Rangers. In doing so the Catholic split Glasgow right down the centre, especially as he made the move to the Gers after saying that Celtic were the only club he wanted to play for. A deal had been done to return Johnston to Parkhead, but complications and some serious persuasion from Graeme Souness swung the historic deal. To say he got a fierce reception on his first return to the green side of Glasgow is a bit like saying Jose Mourinho isn't a bad manager.

3) Niko Kranjcar (Dinamo Zagreb)

Moving from Dinamo Zagreb to Hajduk Split isn't the done thing if you want a quiet life in Croatia. Tottenham Hotspur's Niko Kranjcar followed in his dad's footsteps by playing for his local club Dinamo, and even captaining them at the ripe old age of 17.

Kranjcar fell out with the club and his agent Dino Pokrovac, and it was widely expected the much coveted player would move away from his homeland. To everyone's surprise he upped sticks to Split to savour one of football's most hostile derbies from the other side of the fence. A few months later his agent was murdered. Kranjcar struggled to recover his form, much to the delight to Dinamo fans who taunted him for his weight, and he was eventually rescued from his plight by Harry Redknapp, who signed him for the first time at Portsmouth. A future Portsmouth team-mate of Kranjcar's, Sol Campbell, is another popular target with Spurs fans after his switch to Arsenal.

2) Luis Figo (Barcelona)

Figo only joined Barcelona in 1995 as moves to Juventus and Parma fell through. In five years he became a God in Catalunya en route to winning the Ballon d'Or in 2000, but it was in that same year that he switched to Real Madrid. Overnight he went from being a son of Barca to a hated villain, and the sentiment still remains judging by the hostile reception he received at the Camp Nou when he accompanied Inter there earlier this year for the Champions League semi-final.

1) Wayne Rooney (Everton/Manchester United)

A young Rooney once proudly boasted: "Once a blue, always a blue" when he was on the books of his childhood idols Everton. His controversial transfer to Manchester United in 2004 infuriated Toffees fans and Rooney wound them up further by kissing the Red Devils badge when he scored in United's 4-2 win at Goodison Park in April 2007.

Not content with upsetting half of Merseyside, the forward did the same for 50% of Manchester and millions of other fans with his threat to leave Old Trafford. The saga looks settled...for now.

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