Footballers who caused chaos by joining rivals from decapitation threat to arson

Professional footballers are no strangers to causing mayhem among fanbases with controversial transfers – and joining the rivals of their former employers is sure to cause major discontent.

From decapitation threats to police protection and even arson, die-hard fans have broken the law in apparent anger after feeling betrayed by those they worshipped.

With Luis Figo and Steven Defour among those who have faced the wrath of those who felt wronged, the authorities have even been forced to intervene.

Daily Star Sport has delved into six cases in which players were targeted following bold career moves, with one banner showcasing a player having been decapitated.

Steven Defour – Standard Liege to Anderlecht

Back in January of 2016, a banner which had a drawing of a decapitated Steven Defour alongside the words 'Red or Dead' was displayed by Standard Liege fans on his return to the club.

The then 26-year-old Belgium international had left Standard for Porto five years earlier, and returned to Belgium by signing for match-rivals Anderlecht to plenty of controversy.

The banner might well have got to the midfielder, and he was sent off in the second-half for kicking the ball into the stands as the away side lost 2-0 in what was an extremely hostile atmosphere.

Roberto Baggio – Fiorentina to Juventus

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Known as the transfer that sparked a riot, Roberto Baggio joined Juventus from Fiorentina back in 1990 after five years and 115 goals for the club.

A world record transfer of £8million at the time, he inherited the No. 10 short previously worn by Michel Platini, and his former fans were left fuming.

Riots on the streets of Florence saw 50 people injured according to Sports Illustrated, with Baggio saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer."

Eran Zahavi – Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv

Eran Zahavi was sent off during a clash between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv back in 2014 after he kicked out at a spectator who attacked him.

Zahavi, a Maccabi player formerly of Hapoel, had scored from a penalty during the fixture, with a fan invading the pitch to confront him.

After the player kicked him, he was dismissed, and the game was later abandoned due to repeated pitch invasions with Hapoel coach Eyal Berkovic calling for the league to be suspended.

Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid

In what could be the most infamous gesture of them all, Luis Figo's move from Barcelona to Real Madrid for around £55million led to a pigs head being thrown onto the Nou Camp surface on his second return.

Banners of with the words; traitor, judas, scum and mercenary had greeted him on his first return in October of 2000, alongside the jeers of almost 100,000 Barcelona fans.

Madrid defender Ivan Campo said: "That night when Figo first went back was incredible. I’ve never heard anything like it. Luís didn't deserve that. He'd given his all for Barcelona."

Mario Gotze – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich

Mario Gotze felt the need to have police presence outside his parent's house after his controversial switch to join Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund was leaked back in 2013.

The news came out days before their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, to the fury of Jurgen Klopp, but all had calmed down before he returned to the Westfalenstadion in 2016.

Gotze told the Players' Tribune in 2019: “I made the decision to go but I didn’t understand the consequences. We even had police staying outside my parents’ house for protection."

Oscar Ruggeri – Boca Juniors to River Plate

Oscar Ruggeri joined River Plate following 15 years on the books at Boca Juniors between 1970 and 1985, and was left fearing for the lives of his family after an act of arson.

He told Marca in 2018: "I played for both River and Boca and I had a great time with both teams, but when I went from Boca to River they set fire to my house with my parents inside.

"When they burned my house, I went to see the head of the Barras Bravas of Boca because he controlled everything and I told him it was the last thing I was going to put up with."

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