Seven transfers that infuriated fans including Campbell and Ferdinand bombshells
Friday marked the 20th anniversary of Rio Ferdinand leaving Leeds United to join bitter rivals Manchester United, a move that left Whites fans furious.
Ferdinand had been one of Leeds' star players and was a key part of the side that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001. His performances, coupled with Leeds' financial issues, saw the Red Devils come calling.
It was a move that infuriated Leeds supporters, but the Englishman was far from the first player to make a transfer that left fans angry. Here, Daily Star Sport looks at Ferdinand's move and six other deals that led to furious reactions.
Rio Ferdinand – Leeds to Man Utd (2002)
Having become one of the best young defenders in the Premier League, Ferdinand made a £30million move to Manchester United from Leeds in 2002. The move led to a high level of animosity between Leeds fans and Ferdinand, though the defender has defended his decision to move on from Elland Road.
"As much as there was a lot of talk about me going to Man United and it was emotional, for a lot of the fans it was difficult to accept. But I think in the long term it was proven that the reasons why I went were justified, but I probably had my most enjoyable football when I played here [at Leeds]," he told BT Sport in 2020.
"We were a young squad, all good lads, all socialised together as well and I just had some fantastic times here, really enjoyed my football here, enjoyed my time, the people were great. Where I lived was fantastic so I’ve never had anything bad to say about Leeds. It’s always been somewhere that I’ve always appreciated at it was part of my journey.”
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Ashley Cole – Arsenal to Chelsea (2006)
A year after signing a new contract with Arsenal, Ashley Cole joined Chelsea for £5m in July 2006. The move led to the left-back being dubbed 'Cashley' by Gunners fans after he made no secret of the financial motivations behind his desire to move, though he insisted he never regretted leaving Arsenal.
“I was a little bit hot-headed and didn’t realise what I was doing at the time as well but I don’t regret it. When I look back now, it was something maybe that was meant to happen," he told Sky Sports.
"Of course it hurt me because I knew it wasn’t just my fault. I didn’t leave for no reason. I didn’t go to Arsene Wenger and say ‘I want to leave’. There was more to it. I do feel sometimes a little bit sad because it was my club, I played there since I was nine. To have that ill-feeling from the fans, still, is hard sometimes.”
Robin van Persie – Arsenal to Man Utd (2012)
Six years after Cole's move to, Arsenal were stung again by a player moving to a rival when Robin van Persie made the move to Manchester United. The Red Devils paid £24m for the striker, who was blasted by Gunners fans for leaving the Emirates.
To rub salt into the wounds, Van Persie would fire United to their 20th Premier League title. The Dutchman had insisted upon his move to Old Trafford that there was no animosity between himself and the club, though that could not be said about the supporters.
"I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United. From my side, and Arsenal as well, there are no hard feelings," he said.
Carlos Tevez – Man Utd to Man City
A two-year loan spell at Manchester United had seen Carlos Tevez win two successive Premier League titles. But he made the shock decision to swap the red of United for the sky blue of Manchester City in 2009.
City took full advantage of the deal, putting up a 'Welcome to Manchester' poster with a giant image of Tevez in their kit. But the Argentine later revealed that the fault lay totally with Sir Alex Ferguson for him not joining United permanently.
"We got to the Champions League final in Rome and I didn’t have any contract on the table, even though they’d spent the whole year telling me that. So I went to City and they complained about it but I never had the option of signing for United so I was free," he said.
Andy Cole – Newcastle to Man Utd (1995)
Andy Cole had become one of the Premier League's most feared strikers during a two-year spell at Newcastle. The Magpies were at that point one of the contenders for the title, but made the shock move to sell Cole to rivals Manchester United in 1995.
The deal sparked huge anger among followers of the Toon, with boss Kevin Keegan confronting supporters outside of St James Park. Even years after the move, Cole faced hecklers for his decision to join United, something that left him feeling equally angry.
"It’s always annoyed me. I remember a few years ago I went up with Les (Ferdinand) to do interviews. People came up and heckled me and I said 'you might as well go home or I’ll get up and walk out'. Previously, people have understood what’s going on. The club made the decision that they wanted to sell me," he told the UTD Podcast.
Emmanuel Adebayor – Arsenal to Man City (2009)
The furious reaction from Arsenal fans over Emmanuel Adebayor's move to Manchester City ultimately led to one of the Premier League's most iconic celebrations. Adebayor had starred for the Gunners, scoring 62 goals in four years at the Emirates.
But in 2009, he joined City in a £25m deal, leaving Gunners supporters fuming. At the first clash between the two sides they abused him relentlessly, leading to him sprinting to the away stand to kneeslide in celebration after scoring a goal.
“I was being abused by people who six months ago were singing my name and the abuse was for no reason. There is only so much abuse a man can take until he reaches breaking point. I scored and I wanted to show people it is not a good idea to abuse me," he said.
Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal (2001)
Arguably the transfer that sparked the most furious reaction was Sol Campbell's free transfer from Spurs to Arsenal. Campbell had come up through Tottenham's academy before joining their bitter rivals after nine years in their senior team.
The anger exploded when Campbell returned to White Hart Lane for the first time. The hatred that was directed at Campbell included death threats, with Arsenal team-mate Ray Parlour later revealing their coach had been pelted by objects.
“The fiercest game I’ve ever been in was Sol Campbell’s first game back a White Hart Lane. I’ll always remember coming out [of the stadium], we got pelters, we got all sorts of things thrown at our coach,” he told talkSPORT.
“When you come out of Tottenham you’ve got to do a hard left at a T-junction, and the police were on our coach telling us not to stop, just keep going as quick as you can, and it was dangerous. That was probably the scariest and most intimidating game I’ve been involved in.”
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