Many things hurt football fans; watching their team concede in the 90th minute; getting relegated; or lose games they should win. However, little tops the pain of seeing a fan favourite playing for the club joining their bitter rivals. In that case, adding insult to injury would be seeing them performing at a high level and being successful.
Here is a dive into some of the most famous stories of players who joined their famous rivals and are still not forgiven to this day.
Robin van Persie
The Dutchman joined Manchester United for a fee of £24 million in 2012 after spending eight years at Arsenal. Van Persie played a total of 278 games, contributing 132 goals and 58 assists. His legacy in North London was tarnished when he refused to sign a new contract.
In Manchester, he was a huge part of their 20th Premier League title in the 2012/13 season, where he scored 26 goals and assisted nine times. Throughout his time at the club, he managed to pick up 58 goals, and 21 assists in 105 games, and is considered a legend by fans: a tough one to take for Arsenal fans.
Growing up at the Liverpool Academy, he quickly made a name for himself, winning the Golden Boot back-to-back in 1997/98 and 1998/99. He scored 18 goals in each campaign. Something that unfortunately affected his career and left a lot of what-ifs due to the injuries he sustained.
After a spell at Real Madrid, Manchester United offered Micheal Owen a pay-as-you-play contract, even though he stated the approach from Sir Alex Ferguson was “out of the blue” he still took the deal, playing at the club for 3 years.
A story that could never happen today, a deal that was wrapped up behind the scenes and revealed famously by Arsène Wenger at a press conference when no one expected it. Sol Campbell was a captain for Tottenham Hotspur, he spent nine years at the club, with 255 appearances for the white side of North London.
Due to aspirations to play in the Champions League, we saw the famous switch from one arch-enemy to another. To make it even worse for Tottenham and their fans, he did it in the worst way possible. Campbell ran down his contract, as he ended up leaving the club on a free to join Arsenal.
The start of Manchester City’s story was with the signing of Carlos Tevez from Manchester United, a signing that amazed the football world. After getting applause from the fans at Old Trafford as a sign of appreciation, Tevez moved to the blue side of Manchester just a month later.
During his spell at City, he managed to win the Golden Boot in 2010/11, where he scored 20 goals. The season after, he won the Premier League title. Carlos Tevez stated that Manchester United did not put “any contract on the table” so he was available on the market.
Both José Mourinho and Ashley Cole met in a hotel to discuss the transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea, where multiple parties involved with the deal were then fined. Both Mourinho and Ashley Cole were fined £75,000. After the saga, he signed a one-year contract at Arsenal, however, the summer after he still made his move to the Blues.
At Chelsea, he was very successful. The Englishman won the Champions League, Premier League, and Europa League, alongside four FA Cups and the League Cup. To this day, he is referred to as “Cashley” by Arsenal fans.