Returning with a New Club: The Curse of the Former Player

Referee Howard Webb shows the red card to Tottenham Hotspur's  Emmanuel Adebayor
Referee Howard Webb shows the red card to Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor

Some players have described it as the best feeling that they’ve ever experienced on a football field whereas others have chosen to keep their celebration as low-key and as respectful as they can. Either way scoring and winning against your former employers can for sure make you a star player at your new club.

On Saturday, Steve Clarke, once assistant manager to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, faced the London side for the first time as West Brom’s boss. He oversaw his Baggies team beat the Blues 2-1 and take all three points, but he certainly isn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last to haunt his former club.

Earlier this month, Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford to take on a Manchester United side fronted by Robin van Persie. The striker spent eight years at Arsenal but, after failing to agree a new contract, he made a high-profile, big-money move to United. Obviously Arsenal’s defence of Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos would have wanted to shut out every Manchester United player, but the one they will have wanted to have prevented most would probably have been van Persie. That didn’t last long. Robin van Persie was on the score sheet after just three minutes to give the Gunners a taste of what they would have had, had they held on to him.

When Chelsea and Liverpool meet, the question always seems to be: will Fernando Torres finally score against his former-club? As of yet the answer has been no, and with the January transfer window looming and many speculating over the Spaniard’s future, time is running out. However, in last season’s Chelsea v Liverpool encounter, it was Glen Johnson, Chelsea’s former-player, who scored for Liverpool. Johnson, who Chelsea bought for a reported fee of £6 million, scored an 87th minute winner to sink his old side.

Back in 2008, Newcastle fans were left stunned by Titus Bramble’s equaliser. The former-Newcastle defender, at the time playing for Wigan, made almost 100 appearances for the Latics and scored just five goals, one of which secured a 2-2 draw against the Magpies.

Former-Arsenal players have a habit of scoring against the Gunners. As well as Robin van Persie punishing his old team, the London side were also kicked in the teeth by Emmanuel Adebayor. The big 6ft 3in striker signed for Arsenal in 2006 but left for Manchester City for, what many believed to have been, ‘financial reasons’. Adebayor was a fans’ favourite at the Emirates but this soon changed when he completed his £25 million move to Manchester City. Adebayor is not one to hide from the spotlight and his goal celebration, after scoring Manchester City’s third goal in their 3-0 win over Arsenal, proved just that. Rather than celebrating with the Manchester City fans, the Togo-international decided to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans, running the length of the pitch and sliding in front of them in a provocative manner.

This weekend Adebayor, now at Tottenham, scored against Arsenal again. The goal put Spurs 1-0 up but minutes later Adebayor saw red for his rash tackle on Santi Cazorla. A lot of people have suggested the sending off was the turning point in the match as Arsenal ran out eventual 5-2 winners.

Many players have scored against their former side, but, as we can see from Adebayor’s dismissal, perhaps players can also help their old sides out once-in-a-while as well.