There are some footballers who grew up supporting rival clubs that you don’t know about. You know that common scenario when a player signs for a club and claims they’ve been a childhood supporter of that club? Well, let’s face it, half the time, it’s not entirely true, right?
Footballers Who Grew Up Supporting Rival Clubs
A lot of these footballers actually supported different clubs during their upbringing, ones that are different from the clubs they currently play for. In some cases, they didn’t just support different clubs; they were fans of their own club’s rivals.
In this article, we’ll delve into 12 footballers who grew up supporting rival clubs.
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1. Jadon Sancho
Sancho’s case was, in fact, a double barrel. He was born and raised in London, so it’s not so surprising that he was a Chelsea fan growing up. In fact, Frank Lampard was one of his idols. Anyway, when he was 15 years old, he joined Manchester City’s academy where he stayed for 2 years before he joined Borussia Dortmund.
So essentially, he was a Chelsea and City guy growing up, only for him to turn around and join Manchester United at 21. For every time he has talked and will talk highly about the Red Devils, there will always be that one tweet where he declared that Football is Blue.
2. Gareth Bale
We can call Bale a Spurs legend, can’t we?
But maybe the Spurs fans will be a little hesitant to call him that when we remind them that the Welshman was an Arsenal supporter growing up. His number one footballing hero growing up was Manchester United legend, Ryan Giggs. But that’s understandable considering they’re both compatriots.
However, he also confessed to really idolizing Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira. We can bet that the Spurs fans didn’t enjoy hearing this. And it actually gets worse for them, sadly.
3. Harry Kane
While Harry Kane insists that he is a Spurs man through and through, a picture surfaced on the internet some years ago with him in an Arsenal jersey when he was just 8 years old. Of course, Spurs fans were hurt. But Harry Kane explained that he was never actually a Gunner. He was a young boy who just wanted to play football. He was at the Arsenal academy for one year, and he just had to do what he had to do to kickstart his professional career.
He even said that he thought about wearing a Tottenham Hotspur jersey for that photo, but he knew for sure that would not have gone down well at all. Tottenham fans may find it a little easier to forgive Kane for that especially since he eventually stayed at the club after heavy interest from City last summer. But you know, the internet never forgets.
4. Raheem Sterling
Sterling has already played for the two parties involved in the biggest rivalry in England right now, but somehow, he managed to support a completely different rival, Manchester United. Talking about his favorite football club growing up, he said:
“I shouldn’t really say this – not now, definitely not now – but when I was young, I was a massive United fan. I had an old United kit from when they won the last FA Cup. I was at the final in 2007.”
Raheem was not only a fan. He was a really dedicated Manchester United fan! Only for him to go on to enjoy this much success with the noisy neighbors he must have really hated growing up.
5. Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin’s story is similar to Sterling’s. He has played for Chelsea and now plays for City. But as a child, he used to support those 2 clubs’ biggest Premier League rival; Liverpool.
His idol was, strangely, Michael Owen; he always had a Liverpool Michael Owen jersey hanging in his room. He also would very often wear a Liverpool tracksuit and even make his bed with Liverpool sheets. KDB truly never walked alone in his younger days.
6. Paul Pogba
Pogba has now had two stints with Manchester United, first joining the club when he was just 16 years old. So, you may be a little surprised when you hear that his childhood club was Arsenal, United’s biggest rival in the 90s and early 2000s.
But his case is a little understandable, though. Back then, there were a lot of French players in the Arsenal squad that Pogba looked up to. Here’s what he said:
“I will be honest. So, at the start, I was an Arsenal fan – obviously because of all the French players, you know.”
There was Wiltord, Clichy, Pires, Vieria, and of course, Henry. Not to forget the boss was French, too. Arsenal was really the France national team annex back then. Even Pogba’s former coach was guilty of once supporting the rivals of the club he went on to play for for years.
7. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole may not admit it now after playing for Manchester United for 11 years and managing them for 3, but he was a Liverpool fan when he was much younger. But United were the ones who came knocking when he was at Molde in Norway, and he didn’t waste time to switch allegiances.
8. Luke Shaw
Shaw grew up a Chelsea supporter, and in fact, he used to idolize former Chelsea and Arsenal fullback, Ashley Cole.
He wasn’t just a supporter, though, he went through the London club’s development center at Guildford, but he didn’t make it to the academy. Shaw, however, said that he would love to play for Chelsea at some point.Well, the lad is still relatively young, so that move could still happen.
Now, what is the biggest rivalry in the history of football and why is it El Clasico? The remaining guys on this list are guys from either side of that age-old rivalry. Some of them will shock you.
9. Vinicius Jr
Vini Jr. was signed by Real Madrid in 2018, but just the year before that, he was shedding tears after watching a Barcelona match.
Vinicius, who was reportedly very close to a Barcelona move at the time, was shedding tears of joy after La Remontada in 2017. After Sergi Roberto put the 6th goal past Kevin Trapp to complete the comeback against PSG, Vini, who was back in Brazil, could not hold back the tears.
His dream was to play for Barcelona. And according to Barca’s former technical secretary, the move was all but done. But Vini’s agents betrayed Barcelona and secured a move to Madrid for higher pay.
10. Luka Modric
Luka Modric used to idolize Johan Cruyff while growing up. The Croatian really looked up to the Dutchman and absolutely adored the club he used to play for – Barcelona.
Rumors suggest that the Catalan giants were close to signing Modric in 2008, and the midfielder even posed with a Cruyff Barcelona jersey. However, the move fell through, and he went to Spurs instead. Then it was Madrid who took the initiative to snatch him up in 2012, and the rest, as they say, is history.
If the jersey somehow didn’t convince you that Modric was indeed a Barca fan, maybe the words of his friend and former international teammate, Ivan Rakitic, will:
“Many times I joke with him, telling him not to get mad, because he is even more culé than me. When we were young, we all had a favorite team, and it’s no secret that Luka loved the claret and blue colors.”
11. Neymar Jr
Neymar was a Real Madrid fan growing up, and much of that was thanks to Robinho. He really adored the ex-Brazil international and said that his dream was playing for Real Madrid. That dream may have now been put to bed because Neymar himself is probably not interested in making more enemies of Barcelona fans after what his shocking exit did to culés in 2017.
12. Andres Iniesta
Believe it or not, Andres Iniesta, who spent 22 years at Barcelona and was a product of the famous La Masia academy, had a period when he absolutely despised Barcelona.
At around 12 years old while playing for Albacete, Barcelona delivered a crushing 7-nil defeat to his club. The magnitude of the loss left him deeply angered, sparking genuine hatred towards Barcelona from that moment onward.
In an interview many years later, Iniesta discussed this period: ‘I was unhappy that Barcelona had done that to my Albacete… so I had a difficult time which included a change of team.’
Surprisingly, in an act of defiance against Barcelona, he briefly considered switching allegiances to their greatest rivals, Real Madrid.
However, Iniesta clarified,
‘There has never been any contact, though, I was never close to signing for Madrid,’
offering some reassurance to the Barcelona faithful
Well, there you have it. 12 footballers who grew up supporting the rivals of a club they went on to play for.
Which one of these revelations shocked you the most?
Let us know in the comments.