Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Football: Leaving at the Wrong Time

Loyalty is not in fashion in the world of football. In the last ten year, the players that played during their entire career in one team are very few. Big football players tend to leave their clubs when the first signs of crisis strike or when >30,000,000 euro are put on the table. Such players join team after team to "pursue their dreams." Funny enough, two of those players that never left their youth team are Paolo Maldini and Ryan Giggs.

Paolo Maldini and Ryan Giggs
Image Copyrights: AC Milan BG

Those two have between them won the following major trophies:
UEFA Champions League/European Champion Club Cup:  7 times (2 for Ryan with Manchester United, 5 for Paolo with AC Milan)
Domestic Titles: 19 times! (12 for Ryan in England, 7 for Paolo in Italy)
UEFA Supercups: 6 times (5 for Paolo and 1 for Ryan)
Intercontinental Cup/FIFA Club World Cups: 5 times (2 for Ryan and 3 for Paolo)
Domestic Cups: 9 (4 FA Cups for Giggs, 4 League Cups for Giggs, and 1 Italian Cup for Maldini)
Domestic Supercups: 13 (8 for Giggs, 5 for Maldini)

It can be easily said that while some other players have careers, those two have history! However, this post is not about those that are loyal. It is about those that are not. It is about the players that left in the worst possible moment (worst for them, not for the team they left). This is a list of very unlucky players and their misfortunes.

Michael Owen
Image Copyrights: BBC 

After years of waiting for Liverpool to win the title, in 2004 Michael Owen decided it was enough. He joined Real Madrid, known as Los Galacticos back then. In the team, he became a part of a very interesting collection of Golden Ball winners. Ronaldo had two Ballon D'Ors, Zinedine Zidane had one, Figo had one, and Michael Owen had one - five in total. Yet, this did not help them win any major trophies in 2004/2005. Michael left for Newcastle in the summer of 2005 still without a domestic title. He would go on to win one only in 2011 with Liverpool's archrivals Manchester United. The precious 19th title that made Manchester the most successful team in the domestic league, just ahead of Liverpool. What is the problem with Owen leaving then (considering that Liverpool are still without a title)? The problems is that in May 2005 Liverpool won the Champions League. In a remarkable game against Milan (which I still remember in my nightmares), Liverpool managed to win on penalties their fifth European Champions trophy. A win that also allowed them to keep the cup forever (it is given for three consecutive or five total European crowns). In the mean time, Michael was struggling in the domestic league in Spain and Real could not advance beyond the round of 16 in the CL. Sorry, Micky. Bad timing! 

Image Copyrights: Cabronos 

Andriy Shevchenko
Image CopyrightsFootball Pictures

For seven years, Shevchenko was the King of Milan. The fans, the president, and the vice president adored him. It was the spring of 2006 and Milan were trophyless for 2 years (since winning the domestic title in 2004). They suffered a painful loss to Liverpool in the 2005 CL final in Istanbul and then lost against Barcelona in the 2006 semi-final. The Calciopoli scandal was looming large. And then rumors started to appear that Roman Abramovich, the extremely rich president of Chelsea, wanted to buy the Ukrainian star of Milan. At this point Shevchenko was filling in for Paolo Maldini as team captain. So it came as a complete shock for the "tifosi rossoneri" when their idol said basta and decided to move to Chelsea. The explanation was that he wanted to learn English! The result was that Milan won the Champions League again the year after than in Athens (May 2007), while Chelsea failed to retain the domestic title in England and their star coach Maurinho was fired. The coach was fired but not before he managed to turn Sheva into a shadow of his former self. Sheva had already won the Champions League but it would have been nice to win it twice, wouldn't it?

Image CopyrightsFootball Pictures 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic'
Image CopyrightsThe Offside

It is hard to say how a player that is on a series of 8 domestic titles in a row can be unlucky but it can happen. Actually it can happen (twice!). Back in the summer 2009 Zlaran Ibrahimovic' lost hope that Internazionale could possibly win the Champions League and decided to join the "Best Team in the World" - aka 2009 title holders Barcelona. The Catalan club had Messi and two European titles in the last four years. But it was not meant to be for Zlatan. Barcelona did win the domestic title and cup but they lost CL semi-final against Zlatan's old team - Inter. The nerazzuri went on to win the final and Zlatan was left without an European champions trophy and in a serious fight with Barca's coach Pep Guardiola. 

Image CopyrightsGuardian

The result from the feud was that Zlatan once again switched teams in the summer of 2010. Ever the football nomad, the Swede joined AC Milan, completing a "hat-trick of shame" in Italy (playing for JuventusZlatan (to have a chance at winning the CL due to his unlucky team changes), if only I did not know better - Zlatan is the heart and engine of the rossoneri. If there is some (small) chance that Milan defeats Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals, it will be because of Zlatan. Go ahead, Nomad. Keep dreaming!

Image Copyrights: Backpage Football

The Conclusion: Do not run for the door immediately! There is a light ahead of every (football) crisis.

If you like this post, check also Football: Where were you moments?.

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