The idea that, culturally, football has reached a stage where it is totally acceptable to leave one club for another in search of money is an objectionable one. What appears to be universally accepted though is that players will move clubs in order to win trophies. At what point did it become customary to ditch a club that has shown you nothing but loyalty because trophies were hard to come by?

Somewhere over the last twenty years good players began to believe that being an exceptional footballer gave them a divine right to win trophies. Instead of feeling as though they were lucky to play for a certain club and would do everything they could to bring glory to that club the roles have somehow been reversed.

Now the focus seems to be almost solely on the wants and needs of the individual. These days, clubs feel as though they are lucky to have certain players and will do everything they can to attend the needs of their players. This is unhealthy to say the least.

For clubs like Arsenal to have gone from captains like Tony Adams, who famously stated that he would sign any contract Arsenal would put in front of him without even reading it, to Robin van Persie, who in the summer months wouldn’t sign a contract at Arsenal no matter how many they put in front of him, is a sad indictment of both player power and the lack of club loyalty.

Now, many will argue that it was easy for Adams to say such things when he knew that Arsenal were winning trophies. However, the counter argument would be that his attitude was the catalyst for the trophies, not the other way around.

All clubs will go through dry patches in their history but they will usually recover if their players remain loyal. Look at Allesandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon. They were both at Juventus when the club was relegated yet remained there for years whilst the club tried to regain its position at the top of Italian football. And, last year, they were rewarded with a league title.

How many players in the Premier League would do that for their club? Not many, if any at all. And the most remarkable thing is that whilst players believe they will be better remembered for winning more trophies the likelihood is that Del Piero will be remembered far more fondly, and with far more respect, for staying at Juventus during hard times and helping them back to the top than he would have done had he left and won a couple more trophies. His actions displayed a level of effort and humility that is lacking from the vast majority of top footballers.

There’s more to being a great player than winning things. Just because a player wins a trophy it doesn’t make them great. Take Djimi Traore, for example. He has a Champions League winner’s medal – he’s not a great player. Then look at somebody like Matt Le Tissier. He doesn’t have a single winners medal from his professional career, but he will be remembered as a great player.

I’m not saying that any player that moves club because they have ambitions of winning trophies is disloyal. However, when players are already at big clubs, they should try to help that club win trophies before they jump ship.

Winning major competitions should be a challenge, it should be a remarkable achievement and it should be something that players can be proud of for the rest of their lives. Therefore if a player, like so many are, is content to move to another club and play a bit part role in order to win a trophy then perhaps they should take a step back and question their motives for wanting to win something at all – is it as impressive and satisfying to win something in which you played little part?

More and more we are seeing this morally questionable behaviour from players who owe a lot to the club they leave behind. Like I said, ambition is fine, yet in modern football it seems that players are allowed to use their desire to win trophies as an excuse to get away with frankly inexcusable displays of ingratitude and disloyalty. Football used to be about representing a club and a community that you loved, about sharing the highs and lows of a career with that team.

Perhaps the ever widening, incredibly evident gap between players and fans means that players no longer feel that bond that should inspire them to work hard for a club. Perhaps the deifying of footballers by fans has played its part in their selfish, narcissistic behaviour patterns or perhaps footballers have unconsciously bought in to the culture of needing immediate and constant success. Whatever the case, in a world where we revere footballers more than ever they seem less and less concerned about what we think.

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  • Bill Glas
    2 years ago

    Some fair comment here, but where do you start. Many premier league players, for example, started their careers in the lower divisions. Should they have stayed with those clubs to help the clubs advance? I suspect most moved for better football, more money, and trophies!

    Reply
  • Melon Man
    2 years ago

    When most of your players, often your best ones, don’t even come from this country, never mind are from the city your club is based in, how can you be surprised when they show a desire to play for someone else, who pay better, and might win more trophies?

    Isn’t that just stupidity on your part?

    Robin Van Persie had form for moving for money and trophies, (as did Samir Nasri), he left his home town club Feyenoord, in Holland, to play for the Arsenal, who live in England.

    Just because he had loads of injuries, work related by the way, doesn’t automatically mean he has any moral duty to stick around at a club who pay less than he can get elsewhere, and who are likely to win more silverware.

    By all means burst into tears when your English born players agitate for a move, but to expect others to stick around is naive frankly.

    Reply
  • samuel
    2 years ago

    The notion of a player having any loyal
    ty to a specific ,no matter how well he,s been treated there, is ludicrous especially in 2012 with so much money
    floating around,but van Persie said he wants to leave Arsenal to win trophies
    at Man. United ,nothing wrong in this decision,so stop whingeing already as Wenger hasn,t brought any trophies to
    the Emirates in seven long mediocre seasons ?

    Reply
  • Bres
    2 years ago

    Good article. Foreigner or not, when a club takes you, puts faith in you, and develops you into a better player once you are competing at the level your ability deserves some loyalty should be expected, especially in the case of Injury plagued players like Van Persie but Cash is King now days and our lack of trophies provides the get out clause.

    Reply
    • Jo
      2 years ago

      That’s nonsense. So if a third division team buy you, train you, and eventually you SOMEHOW become one of the worlds best players, you would spend your ENTIRE career to try and win the champions league with that club? I’d like to see YOU do that mate..

      Reply
  • Steve
    2 years ago

    Such rubbish, clubs buy foreign because its cheap. What about all the players who have been ditched after training just as hard. Football is a cut throat industry, always has been and always will be.

    Reply
  • GoonerEris
    2 years ago

    Very balanced article; it beggars belief that some posters have managed to infer that it is about “Robin van Persie” when this was purely addressing a general malaise in the game. There are stories of very good players in Spain who have resisted the lure of ‘Trophies’ at Barca and Real Madrid to remain with their original clubs for life! Just for the joy of the rivalry; i will admit these are mostly home town clubs, but you get the point. At the end of the day, it is about the money being thrown around, especially in England, these days, that is responsible for a ‘top’ player leaving an equally top club instead of staying to fight with them. Arsenal fans have moved on from Robin and that should be clear from the way the team is playing now.

    Reply
    • Melon Man
      2 years ago

      It beggars belief that you missed this sentence –
      “For clubs like Arsenal to have gone from captains like Tony Adams, who famously stated that he would sign any contract Arsenal would put in front of him without even reading it, to Robin van Persie, who in the summer months wouldn’t sign a contract at Arsenal no matter how many they put in front of him, is a sad indictment of both player power and the lack of club loyalty.”
      I think this article is very much subconsciously about the Arsenal, probably written by an Arsenal fan. Many, many similar articles have been written over the past couple of years by Arsenal fans bemoaning a perceived loss of loyalty by the long string of their players exercising their right to leave to better their careers.
      Again, expect no loyalty from players WHO YOU PURCHASED FROM ANOTHER CLUB IN THE FIRST PLACE!

      Reply
  • Shakabula Gooner
    2 years ago

    Great article and comments.

    It was RvP (or Nasri or any other key player faced with the opportunity)’s right to move at any time and for any reason.

    However, when you look carefully at the personal financial gains underlying the move, they all move for the opportunity to significantly increase (or even double) their salaries.

    What is fraudulent or downright dishonest is claiming that they moved to win trophies. Firstly, they never can gurantee that their move will lead to winning trophies and it smacks as great disrespect for the team they are leaving behind to imply the club and the players they are leaving behind have zero ambition or interest in winning any trophy. I would have prefered a little in-your-face candour along these lines rather than the cheap lies.

    I totally agree too that such players hardly ever have the respect of their old or new club upon retirement but, in this age and with £20million net in the retirement fund they can “afford” not to give a fig for that!

    Reply
  • Jo
    2 years ago

    This article stinks of sour grapes. Arsenal fan perhaps? It’s true that loyalty is an important part of a footballer’s character, but to devote your ENTIRE career just because you feel obliged to help a team progress (eventhough you know that team will never have the support or the standing to challenge at the very top) is just crazy. Football maybe a romantic sport to us but to many of them it’s just a day job! A job that will feed their families, and put their kids through university someday. You’re not gonna stay with a small company if a bigger company offers to triple your wages and offers you the chance to travel all over the world are you? So why blame footballers for wanting more?

    It’s easy to quote Tony Adams, Del Piero, Scholes and Giggs as examples of footballers with great loyalty, but just see how soon they’d be out the door if their club wasn’t challenging at the top every year. If Tony Adams was playing today and Real Madrid came calling let’s just see what fuss he would kick up. And Del Piero? Well it’s easy to stay with Italy’s biggest team with the promise that they would spend big to get back into Serie A and challenge at the very top again isn’t it?

    Reply
  • Don Goon
    2 years ago

    @jo,do read the article again. . (However, when players are
    already at big clubs, they should try
    to help that club win trophies before
    they jump ship) He never said anything about 3rd division teams! What is it with some people,can’t you read? are you dyslexic???

    Reply
    • Jo
      2 years ago

      How is Everton a big club? They might have one of the most loyal fan base in England, but ambition wise they’re hardly gonna challenge at the top on a consistent basis which is what Fellaini aspires to.

      And what if I’m dyslexic? Are you gonna insult me because of a disability I might have? Are you an idiot?

      Reply