How much is thirty pieces of silver worth today?
Less popular than a ginger stepson and so controversial that he entered every day language as the nadir of human behaviour, Judas Iscariot certainly left a sense of distaste amongst his team-mates (or apostles, as they were known back then). So much so that his name is still wheeled out whenever there is a cross-city transfer, or a beloved star, moves to a hated rival. Which of the players below will be as notorious as Judas and still have blood boiling in 2000 years time?
Youthful promise at Spurs was replaced somewhat my some middling performances towards the end of his Middlesbrough career. Along came a club record offer from Everton and the chance to re-launch himself as the saviour of a once-great club.
Some inspired performances in a variety of positions finally brought Barmby back into the England fold and with the increased positive press came increased attention. As a struggling side, few Everton fans would have begrudged Barmby a chance to finally play for honours, but when Barmby’s freckled face was seen grinning from beneath a Liverpool scarf Everton fans were left muttering voodoo curses under their breath.
Frustration was tempered by the fact that Barmby never scaled the same heights in red and came off second best in his first 50-50 in the following derby.
Shock Factor – 6
Could Have Been Better – Had that challenge seen him instantly substituted
Quite literally the poster child of “Judas” chants during the early part of the century. Sol Campbell managed to enrage the white half of North London by leaving on a free transfer – and with the world at his feet as one of the most accomplished defenders of his generation – choosing, of all places, a football pitch just down the road.
To rub increasingly bitter salt into the wounds, Campbell would continually return with an Arsenal team that were defeating all comers – quite literally in the case of “the invincibles”. Already a tempestuous derby, the defection of Campbell raised the bar to a Nick Hornby worthy “Fever Pitch”.
Shock Factor – 9
Could Have Been Better – Had he scored an own goal to lose a derby in the unbeaten season
“We hate you so much because we loved you so much” was the banner that greeted Luis Figo upon his return to the Nou Camp with his new employers Real Madrid. That and paraphernalia to fund a small bric-a-brac shop. Most famously of all a pigs head was thrown at the Portuguese winger as he was standing to take a corner.
Few rivalries in world sport are as deeply ingrained as the Madrid/Barcelona divide – despite this a surprising number of players have played for both clubs. However few of them ever touched the hearts, or were the undoubted symbols of Barcelona in the same way as Figo. Florentino Perez was embarking on his “galactico” project but of all the stars who shone bright Figo was surely beyond reach. Or so everyone thought.
Executed with staggering bravado and frankly foolhardy abandon to personal safety Figo defected. Few transfers have ever been as shocking as this.
Shock factor – 10
Could Have Been Better – Had Messi been ready to replace Figo immediately.
In terms of rivalries the Glasgow clubs of Celtic and Rangers have reserved a head seat at the top table. In amongst the violence and religious hatred there is the odd game of football played. After a stint in France the Scottish striker Mo Johnston was returning to his homeland.
Most people assumed he would return to Celtic Park, especially after he was pictured in the Green and white hoops waxing lyrical about the club. Little did the catholic half of Glasgow know that Graeme Souness was up to some more trouble making – and promptly snatched the miniature striker to play at Ibrox.
There are players who have played for both (Kenny Miller for example) but none were ever as polarising as Johnston who became the first Catholic to play for Glasgow Rangers.
Shock Factor – 9
Could Have Been Better – Johnston spends all eternity in purgatory.
A European tie in Turkey was forever marred for followers of Leeds United as an unsightly skirmish ended with two Leeds fans losing their lives after being stabbed at the hands of Galatasaray fans. The loss of the fans galvanized a Leeds team amongst whom Kewell was one of the leading lights.
The emotion and sense of disbelief was opened up all over again when Kewell accepted an offer to join the Turkish team upon leaving Liverpool. Fans were outraged and few bothered to even greet his excuse with a cursory acknowledgement.
For the record Kewell was thinking about the Leeds fans because he wore the same shirt number for Galatasaray as he did when at Leeds. And that made everything okay then!
Shock Factor – 7
Could Have Been Better – If the rivalry was a genuine football one, rather than one caused by the tragic death of two fans.
The flame haired manager led Birmingham to their first piece of silverware in an age by overcoming Arsenal in the Carling Cup last year. Unfortunately that marked the high point and shortly afterwards they were relegated from the Premier League.
Cross city rivals Aston Villa were looking for a new manager and after a fruitless search they approached McLeish. A bitter boardroom fight ensued before the manager was able to begin his new role, further dampening relations between the second city neighbours.
To be fair to the Villa fans they didn’t want McLeish any more than they wanted to catch crabs. Thus McLeish managed to alienate almost everyone in Birmingham.
Shock Factor – 5
Could Have Been Better – If Birmingham stayed up and Villa appointed Christian Gross instead.
A goalscoring machine at Anfield, Michael Owen somehow hadn’t managed to garner the undying affection that say, Robbie Fowler had. After stints at Real Madrid and Newcastle, Owen managed to further ruin his relationship with the Kop by joining the hated Manchester United.
For sure he was no longer the force that he once was – but Englands fourth-leading goalscorer would certainly have had suitors that would have been more palatable than the Red devils. Heck, joining Everton would have hurt the Liverpool fans less.
Shock Factor – 7
Could Have Been Better – Owen gets confused by the red and scores at the wrong end.
Not all rivalries are played out across European ties or channel to channel coverage like Barcelona/Real Madrid or Rangers/Celtic – but that doesn’t mean they are any less meaningful. Just ask the lot down at Portsmouth and Southampton. Having said that you really ought to only ask the Southampton fans.
After a board room fall out at Pompey, Redknapp left to join the nearest rivals Southampton. Unable to work his usual “wheeler dealer” magic and keep The Saints up Redknapp jumped ship again – this time back to Pompey.
Things would only become more traumatic when they saw their former manager leading Pompey to an FA Cup Final win – thus ensuring hero status forever in Portsmouth, for two very good reasons.
Shock Factor – 7 when moving to Saints 9 when going back to Pompey
Could Have Been Better – Had he joined Saints again and relegated Pompey.
One of the greatest strikers the world has ever seen is actually pretty good at annoying fan bases. He has managed to accurately imitate Judas on no fewer than three occasions.
From Barcelona he joined Inter Milan spending most of his time there injured. Recovering in time to light up the World Cup Ronaldo then left Inter as the latest “Galactico” to join Real Madrid – thus infuriating Barca fans. Once the weight and lifestyle became an issue there Ronaldo headed back to Italy to join Inter’s big rivals AC Milan for short stint.
However, the cherry on the cake was when he returned to Brazil. For the duration of his career Ronaldo had preached that he was a Flamengo fan as a boy and would love to play for them. Upon leaving Milan it seemed that he would get his wish and that the fans of Flamengo would have a chance to see the great striker turn out for them.
Of course, true to form Ronaldo managed a last minute body swerve and ended up joining Corinthians instead, leaving everyone nonplussed. Perhaps there were better “women” at Corinthians.
Shock factor – 7
Could Have Been Better – Had he never been injured.
How much of this transfer was down to Tevez and how much was down to the demonic Joorabchian who knows. One thing is for sure though, few signings have heralded such a brave new dawn in a way that Manchester City’s capture of the Argentinian did.
A folk hero at Old Trafford who would regularly hear the fans serenade the manager with “sign him up Fergie” Tevez was able to exact immediate revenge of the snub by joining the worlds richest club, who just happened to be the “noisy neighbours”.
Now a folk hero in sky blue Tevez earned extra bonus points for getting involved in a spat with Gary Neville.
Shock factor – 8
Could Have Been Better – Had he punched Gary Neville in the face. Some red cards are worth accepting.
And there you have it – a non-exhaustive look at some true “Judas” moments in recent footballing memory. Who are your biggest Judases? Tell us by leaving your comments below.