Here are 10 superstar footballers who betrayed their managers From Jadon Sancho leaving City to Kepa refusing to be subbed, these stories show how players clashed with their coaches. It’s a look at how relationships between players and managers can go sour in football.
Footballers Who BETRAYED Their Managers
1. Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho is seeking a loan away from Manchester United, but if you remember, he was in the Manchester City academy between 2015 and 2017.
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Pep Guardiola was hired in 2016, and not long after joining, he noticed the talent of the teenage star and had plans to ease him into the first team alongside Phil Foden. But the Spanish boss could not give immediate assurances about game time that season, so Sancho, only 17 years old at the time, decided to turn his back on the coach. He forced a move to Dortmund that summer and he never looked back.
To complete the betrayal, Sacnho then moved to the other side of Manchester in 2021. But considering how things are going for him at Old Trafford, maybe he could have been more patient with Pep.
2. Diego Costa
It appears that 2017 was a pretty acrimonious year in the Premier League, because that same year, Diego Costa betrayed Antonio Conte at Chelsea.
The pair were having an amazing season together as player and coach. Costa was tempted by a big money move being offered to him from China, so he was ready to leave Chelsea midseason to go chase the bag, but the transfer fell through, so he had to stay back. Conte did not like that at all, but he played it cool. He kept using Costa until the end of the season as Chelsea went on to win the Premier League.
But in June of that same year, Conte reacted to the betrayal by sending a text to Costa telling him he was not a part of his plans for the coming season and asking him to find another club.
Conte went on to buy Morata to replace him, and then dropped Costa from the Champions League squad and completely banished him.
Chelsea players betraying their manager continued over the years and it happened again in 2019 with Kepa and Sarri, and this time, we all saw it happen live.
It was the League Cup final against Manchester City. The game was headed to penalties when Kepa went down injured. Not trying to risk anything in the penalty shootout, Sarri asked Kepa to come off, but the Spanish goalie refused to leave the pitch.
The coach asked multiple times, but Kepa kept insisting that he was staying on. Sarri was absolutely incensed at the disrespect, betrayal, and embarrassment on live TV. But there was nothing he could do about it.
4. David Beckham
The relationship between the player – David Beckham and the manager – Sir Alex Ferguson had started to deteriorate in the early 2000s, and it got worse in 2003, the year which turned out to be Beckham’s last at United.
Ferguson thought that Beckham, who was an absolute global superstar, had let the fame get into his head and let his levels drop. He felt that Beckham was betraying him and his teammates, and it all came to a head when they lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup in February 2003.
Very furious with the players and particularly Beckham after that game, Ferguson threw a boot at the former England captain, and the midfielder needed stitches because of that. There was absolutely no coming back from that. People said one of them would have to leave the club, and it was Beckham who eventually left that summer.
5. Carlos Tevez
You just don’t mess with Sir Alex Ferguson.
And you also don’t mess with Roberto Mancini.
The guy who can verify both statements is Carlos Tevez. After spending 2 years at Man United under Fergie, he moved to neighboring rivals, City, where he played under Mancini. Things were great for Tevez at City until September 2011 when he betrayed his manager.
In a Champions League game against Bayern Munich and City were 2 goals down, so Mancini turned to Tevez who was on the bench, and asked him to get ready to come on. But according to the Italian boss, the Argentine striker refused to come on.
Mancini wanted Tevez to be sold immediately. He was immediately suspended from playing or even training with the club and did not return until 5 months later.
In 2013, Tevez revealed that he very nearly retired from football as a result of that whole incident. But instead, he moved to Juventus the same summer Mancini got sacked.
6. Robin van Persie
If you remember, in 2013, Man United won the Premier League, and much of it was thanks to their new acquisition, Robin van Persie. While the United fans were happy to have him, the Gunners, and Arsene Wenger in particular, felt betrayed by his decision to make the move to Old Trafford in the first place.
Now, RvP was not just any player at Arsenal. He was their best player and the club captain at the time, so leaving the club to join a league rival was always going to feel like a betrayal.
On top of that, Arsene Wenger had put a lot of work into helping van Persie improve his form and thanks to that, RvP won the Premier League Golden Boot for the first time in his career, despite having played in the league for 8 years at that time.
But how did van Persie repay Wenger? By betraying him and joining his biggest rival, Alex Ferguson. To make the betrayal even worse, the Dutch striker took his insane form to Old Trafford and helped them win the league in his first season, something Arsenal hadn’t managed to do for 9 years at the time. That must have really hurt.
7. Mario Gotze
Jurgen Klopp is known for his ability to develop young players, and he did that for Mario Gotze back when he was Dortmund’s coach. It was Klopp who promoted Gotze to the Dortmund first team back in 2009, and he oversaw the development of the German midfielder through the years.
But despite all of that and even winning the league twice under Klopp, when rivals Bayern came calling, he didn’t even think twice.
Klopp would eventually have the last laugh, though, because Gotze came running back to Dortmund after things didn’t work out for him in Bayern. But a return was still not able to revive his career.
It seems like Klopp always gets the last laugh, because you guys remember what happened with Coutinho, right?
Klopp told him to remain at Anfield and a statue would be built for him, but he insisted that he wanted to join Barcelona, and we all know what happened after. His time in Barcelona was horrible and his career was completely ruined because of that. Now, he’s at Aston Villa and can’t even get into the squad.
Maybe Romario was Coutinho’s idol? You guys remember Romario played for Barcelona the legendary Johan Cruyff and all was well with Romario and Cruyff until Romario won the World Cup in 1994 with Brazil and his ego became too big for the manager and his teammates.
In 1994, he was suspended for 5 games for violent conduct on Diego Simeone during a game against Sevilla, and in January 1995, despite having recently been named FIFA World Player of the Year, Cruyff sold him because, at that point, it was obvious that there was no way back.
Finally, we have what is perhaps the biggest betrayal we have seen in football in the 21st century.
10. Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel
Claudio Raineri was hired to coach Leicester City in 2015, and he did the unthinkable by leading the recently promoted team to a fairytale Premier League championship in just his first season at the club.
But after doing the unthinkable in 2016, Raineri was fired halfway into his second season. And why was he fired? Because senior players like Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel met with the Leicester City chairman after a loss to Sevilla in the round of 16 of the Champions League. And we don’t know what exactly was discussed in that meeting, but what we know is that, after that meeting, Raineri was sacked.
The rumors were that the senior players revolted against the boss not even up to a year after he incredibly led them to the Premier League title, something none of them ever dreamed would happen at the start of that season. If that is not the height of betrayal, then we don’t know what else is.
Are there more instances of players betraying their coaches you know of?
Share them with us in the comments.