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From hero to villain: Three football players who transferred to rival clubs

Whenever the transfer season comes, it means players from around the world have the opportunity to move to whichever side they please, should the right offer come in. For some players, club loyalties take a backseat when the right deal is on the table. Here are three players who transferred to rival clubs.

Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal)

The rivalry between North London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal is one of the most fierce and long-standing feuds in English football history. That didn’t appear to faze centre-back Sol Campbell, who made the short trip to Highbury in 2001. Campbell came through the Spurs ranks as a youth player and enjoyed his breakout season in 1993-94. From that point, he enjoyed an impressive eight seasons with the Lilywhites before his free transfer to their arch-rivals.

Campbell was part of the infamous invincibles side in 2003-04, the last time Arsenal won a Premier League trophy. They have made a lightning start to 2022-23, placing 4/5 to end their 19-year wait for a league trophy on sports betting site William Hill, which was voted 10th in the UK’s best online casinos in 2023 on BonusFinder in the UK. Their website searches through all the relevant information to find the best options for consumers, such as low-budget and even no-deposit bonuses. Campbell himself proved to be a safe bet in North London, before leaving for spells at Portsmouth, Notts County, and Newcastle, and later retiring in May 2012.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester United to Manchester City)

Argentine forward Carlos Tevez enjoyed an unorthodox introduction to life in the Premier League, signed for West Ham from Corinthians in 2006. This was part of a sensational double swoop with fellow countryman Javier Mascherano whose legitimacy was questioned by the league. His time with the Hammers was short-lived, though, as he secured a move to Manchester United in August 2007. With Man U, he went on to make 63 appearances, winning two Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League.

Despite this success, Tevez joined Manchester City’s exciting project in 2009, becoming the first player to make the switch across Manchester since Terry Cooke in 1999. The blue side of Manchester did their best to wind up their opponents, erecting a blue “Welcome to Manchester” billboard not far from Old Trafford in which Tevez featured in the background. The Argentine took his tally to three English league titles with City’s first of many Barclays Premier League trophies in 2012, scoring 58 goals in 113 matches before leaving for Juventus in 2013.

Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid)

Arguably the most famous football ‘traitor’ of the modern era is Luis Figo, whose move between bitter rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2000 was so controversial there has since been a Netflix documentary released about it. Figo’s 30 goals in 172 games for the Blaugrana raised him to legendary status, forming a close friendship with Pep Guardiola and leading his side to back-to-back La Liga titles in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Just a year after his latest league triumph with the Catalan club, Figo unceremoniously made the switch to a Real Madrid side recently taken over by Spanish mogul Florentino Perez in what marked the beginning of the so-called Galacticos era. Figo was welcomed back to Camp Nou with a series of abusive signs and inanimate objects thrown at him, the most memorable being a pig’s head. On top of his 2000 Ballon d’Or win – achieved largely thanks to his performances with Barca – Figo went on to win two La Liga titles and his first and only Champions League title in 2001-02. 

Several other notable transfers sparked controversy, particularly between teams vying for the title in the same season. However, the entries on this list speak more to the long-lasting rivalries between the two clubs, and it will likely be a while before such loyalties are crossed anytime soon.

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