55 shocking football transfers that shook the world: 30-21
Words: Marcus Alves, Seb Stafford-Bloor, Adam Digby, Alex Hess, Gregor MacGregor, Greg Lea.
30. Gabriel Batistuta (River Plate to Boca Juniors, 1990)
In 2002 World Cup qualifying, Argentina beat Uruguay 2-1 in Buenos Aires. Gabriel Batistuta celebrated the result by running in Daniel Passarella’s direction and telling his compatriot and rival coach: “This is for you”.
Behind it was the revenge he’d been seeking since the day Passarella threw him out of River Plate’s squad in 1990 because he felt the striker needed a team to play for him (and didn’t like that he was growing his hair).
In return, ‘Batigol’ shocked everyone by moving from River to Boca Juniors – and duly became an idol at La Bombonera. Passarella has never forgiven himself for accepting the transfer. MA
29. Jurgen Klinsmann (Monaco to Tottenham, 1994)
A transfer which emerged from an unlikely series of events: Tottenham's initial intention was to sign Diego Maradona, but instead Alan Sugar ended up entertaining Jurgen Klinsmann over cappuccinos on his yacht, and the German agreed to leave Monaco for a country where he was a natural enemy.
This was 1994 – Piers Morgan's reprehensible Mirror front page was still two years away – and Klinsmann wasn’t just the world's premier forward, but also entirely at odds with English football culture.
He didn't join today's Spurs in the contemporary Premier League, but a mid-level club in a rugged, under-developed competition – and in a country where, like at Watford in pre-season, a moronic few thought it hilarious to wear gas masks in the crowd.
For Tottenham, it seemed too good to be true – and, alas, it was. A single glorious season, a signed shirt and an incredulous Sugar press conference later, Klinsmann had moved to Bayern Munich. But it wasn’t goodbye forever. SSB
28. Enrique Borja (Pumas to America, 1969)
Borja was 23 years old, had scored 69 goals for Puma, and wasn’t considering a move when he was told by the board that he’d been sold to his club’s biggest rivals America in 1969.
He was so annoyed at not being informed of the negotiations that he threatened to retire from football – and the conflict became so serious that even the Mexican president Guillermo Diáz Ordaz had to intervene (though conceded that he had no power to revoke the deal).
Ordaz promised to create a law which would allow footballers to profit from future transfers; Borja ended up moving to America and becoming a legend for his new club. Pumas’ loss. MA
27. Diego Maradona (Barcelona to Napoli, 1984)
After partying, ill-discipline and injuries meant he became surplus to requirements at Barcelona, Diego Maradona’s move to Napoli in 1984 was the moment that gave birth to his legend.
Dazzling defences with his breathtaking skill, the Argentine star helped a club which had previously yo-yoed between Italy’s top two divisions win the only two titles in its history, thus breaking the duopoly of Juventus and Milan.
His confidence and tenacity mirrored that of his new city’s inhabitants, who related to the boy born in an Argentine shantytown and took to him as one of their own. It didn’t last, of course – Naples was also the city in which Maradona’s drug use escalated, he fathered an illegitimate child, and could never shrug off ties to the Camorra. Still, nobody at Napoli will ever wear that No.10 shirt again. AD