An awkward moment for any footballer, scoring a goal against your former team evokes all kinds of different reactions from players. Some sheepishly do not celebrate with new teammates out of respect for their former team, some instinctively begin to celebrate wildly before realizing what they've done, and a few cause bedlam by running the length of the entire pitch to celebrate in front of their old fans. The decision to not celebrate has caused much discussion and controversy in recent times, but whether it is right or wrong, a player scoring against their former team certainly makes for great entertainment.
Loyalty is not too common in modern day football, with countless players making the controversial change to a team’s bitter rival. This leads to a palpable atmosphere come derby day, with all eyes on the culprit who changed allegiance. Some players thrive under this kind of pressure and win their new team the game, turning them into an instant hero but also a villain. The excitement has proven to be too much for some players, such as Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored and then saw red for a shock tackle, all inside the first 20 minutes, for Tottenham against his former team Arsenal in a 5-2 horror show for the Spurs.
As you will see in this list, a player scoring against their former team does not always have to result in chaos and burning their old jerseys. Some of these players have managed hero status for both sets of clubs, but this is not quite as entertaining as those with a point to prove against their former employers.
15 David Villa v Barcelona (2013)
14 Nicolas Anelka v Liverpool (2003)
13 Shaun Wright-Phillips v Chelsea (2013)
12 Heung Min Son v Hamburg (2013)
11 Glen Johnson v Chelsea (2011)
10 Marco Reus v Borussia Monchengladbach (2012)
9 Carlos Tevez v Manchester United (2010)
8 David Bentley v Arsenal (2008)
7 Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Inter Milan (2010)
6 Robin van Persie v Arsenal (2013)
5 Frank Lampard v Chelsea (2014)
4 Cristiano Ronaldo v Manchester United (2013)
3 Mario Gotze v Borussia Dortmund (2013)
2 Emmanuel Adebayor v Arsenal (2009)
1 Denis Law v Manchester United (1974)
You will never see a player as devastated to score a goal as Denis Law was on the penultimate game of the season in 1974. Law had 11 excellent years for United and was “The King of Old Trafford”, but when he scored a brilliant back heel for City against their cross town rivals, the striker believed his winning goal had got his former team relegated. As it turned out United would have gone down anyway, but Law states he was “inconsolable” and still feels the pain to this day. Law had 236 goals at United, but the Scotsman is best remembered for scoring a goal that helped doom his former team to Second Division football.
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