I saw an interesting piece on the NBA website about players who have famously joined rival clubs. Shaquille O'Neill is the latest to do so as the former LA Lakers star signed for the Boston Celtics this summer.
It got me thinking of who would be considered the biggest Judas' of the Premiership era. This is my list of the ten biggest 'traitors' in the English top flight, taking into consideration the players involved and big the profile of the transfers were at the time.
- Eric Cantona. A trend setter by nature, in the case the trend being abandoning Leeds United to join Manchester United. He helped Howard Wilkinson and Leeds to winning the old First Division in 1992 before then crossing the Pennines to sign for the Red Devils where he made himself a cult figure.
Lee Clark. The midfielder played for Newcastle for seven years in the Nineties but then, in 1997, he signed for local rivals Sunderland. After just two season at the Black Cats, however, he was seen with Newcastle fans wearing a t-shirt that read, "Sad Mackam Bastards". He never played for them again. Clark, who is now Huddersfield Town manager, rejoined the Magpies in 2005 for two more seasons.
Nicky Barmby. The one time England international played for Everton for four years before, in 2000, making the short move to Anfield. He was the first player to do so since 1959.
Rio Ferdinand. The central defender had little qualms with moving to one of his former clubs' biggest rivals. On the back of his outstanding performance at 2002 World Cup Ferdinand, who was Leeds captain at the time, broke the record transfer fee when Manchester United signed him for £30 million.
Alan Smith. The player claimed that he would never sign for 'The Scum' but just weeks after Leeds' relegation in 2004 he jumped off the sinking ship and straight into a Manchester United shirt.
Harry Kewell. Completing the Leeds quartet on the list. He, like Smith, was part of the exodus out of Elland Road following their fall from grace. He joined Liverpool before then going on to sign for Galatasary two years ago. The one time Leeds player signed for quite possibly their most fiercely hated rivals. The conflict between Leeds and Galatasary fans prior to their Champions League semi-final in 2000 left two Leeds fans.
William Gallas. The temperamental defender left Chelsea on very unceremonious terms after five years at Stamford Bridge. He joined Arsenal in 2006 but, after four seasons with the Gunners, he has now repeated the trick of leaving for a London rival. This summer he left Arsenal to sign for Tottenham, making him a double traitor.
Carlos Tevez. The Argentine created a storm in Manchester when he signed for City in 2009. Tevez spent two successful years at United but when they failed to put up the money to keep him permanently he swapped shirts for the Sky Blue of City who were more than happy to pay the fee to take him to Eastlands.
Ashley Cole. The left-back's behaviour in the build up to his eventual transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea has endeared him to football fans across the country. He stated in his autobiography that he nearly crashed his car when he discovered that Arsenal were only prepared to pay him a meagre £55,000 a week, earning him the name 'Cashley Cole'. His ego-inflating, money hungry attitude combined with his treatment of his old club have made him one of, if not the most hated player in the league.
Sol Campbell. Simply known as Judas by Spurs fans, the defender left Tottenham to join their bitter North London rivals, Arsenal, in a free transfer back in 2001. Campbell was captain at White Hart Lane and was offered a contract by the club that would have made him their highest ever paid player. He declined and scurried over to Highbury instead.
So there is my list. There were some notable omissions from the list including Harry Redknapp (after moving from Portsmouth to Southampton... and back to Portsmouth as a manager), David Bentley (one time Arsenal player then signed for Tottenham) and Mark Hughes (the former Manchester United player signed for Chelsea as a player and City as a manager) but there just wasn't room for them all.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...