10 Greats Who Were Relegated!
West Ham United in 2003
How could a team containing Michael Carrick, Paolo Di Canio, Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, David James, and Glen Johnson get relegated, well in 2003 despite finishing seventh the previous year the Hammers went on a run of three wins in 24 games plummeting to the bottom of the league, manager Glenn Roeder left the club in April after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and club hero Trevor Brooking took over but couldn’t beat the drop. This star-studded Londoners went down to the second tier where they stayed for two seasons before Alan Pardew return them to the premier league and those five players went on to huge success amassing six FA Cups, 10 league titles and a Champions League between them.
The oldest 19 years old you ever saw Kanu won the Champions League as a teenager with Ajax in 1995 and by the time he was 20 had added three league titles, an Olympic gold medal and have been named the African Footballer of the year. An ill-fated spell at Inter Milan followed before Kanu joined Arsenal where he won another two championships with his finest hour coming against Chelsea, the Nigerian scored a 15-minute hat-trick as the Gunners came from 2 down to win 3-2. But he was edged out of the team by a certain Thierry Henry and ended up at Portsmouth where he won the FA Cup and helped Pompey beat the drop in 2009 but couldn’t save them the following year. However, his greatest achievement is still convincing the world that he’s only 40.
Georgi Kinkladze was a tremendously gifted footballer who never quite became the star he promised to be. The midfielder netted an incredible 42 goals in 74 games for Dinamo Tbilisi and made a 2 million-pound switch to Manchester City in 1995. Kinkladze was Man City’s Player of the Year in his first campaign but the Sky Blues went down to the first division regardless though linked with Barcelona and Inter Milan Kinkladze stay with City once again being named the club’s best player and even signing a new three-year contract however in his third season he sadly suffered injuries and was sidelined by manager Joe Royle. City were relegated again and this time the Georgian didn’t stick around headings ajax before winding down a wasted career with Anorthosis and Rubin Kazan.
Dutch striker Hasselbaink was born in Suriname and came to international attention with Leads in the late 90s scoring 34 goals in 69 games with the Yorkshire side and moving to Atletico Madrid for 10 million pounds in 99. Under coach Claudio Ranieri he scored twice in a win over rivals Real at the Bernabéu the first colchoneros victory there in nearly a decade and went to a Coppa del Rey final as well where they eventually lost to Espanyol. Hasselbaink finished the campaign with 24 league goals but still couldn’t stop Atleti being relegated and a clause in his contract allowed him to leave for Chelsea. Once again Hasselbaink found himself working under Ranieri and won the Premier League Golden Boot scoring 55 goals in his first two years back in England.
If there’s one man in football whose ego could use a relegation is Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the swedes career actually started poorly as he was promoted to the Malmo first team in 1999 only for this side to drop straight out of the top flight. With the youngster making six appearances and scoring once the following year he bagged 12 in 26 and Arsene Wenger made his famous unsuccessful attempt to sign the forward for Arsenal but Ajax were watching too and took Zlatan to Amsterdam for just 8.7 million euros at the tender age of 20. 11 titles later, Zlatan is one of the world’s most feared strikers and unusually the swedes flourish late in his career only managing 20 league goals twice before he moved to PSG where he bagged 156 in 180 games.
Only Georgie Best can simultaneously be called one of the world’s best talents and a terrible waste at the same time. The Man United legend was an incredible dribbler in the days of cabbage patch pitches and two-footed tackles and won the European Cup as well as two titles at Old Trafford, but after manager Matt Busby left the club in 1969 United spiraled downwards despite the presence of three Ballon d’Or winners in Best, Charlton and Denis Law. In 1973 both law and Charlton left whilst the Northern Irishman stayed despite announcing his retirement and being transfer listed. United finished second bottom and were relegated and Best parted for South Africa and six years later he would suffer demotion once again this time in Scotland with Hibernian.
It’s hard to believe now but one of the greatest defenders of all time Franco Baresi was twice relegated to Serie B during his 20 years with AC Milan, after winning the title in 1979 the Rossoneri went down a year later thanks to their involvement in a match-fixing scandal which saw the great Paolo Rossi banned for three years, the second time was more straightforward as Milan finished in the bottom three despite conceding 31 goals in 30 games that’s still more than they allowed in their title-winning campaign of 87/ 88 and 93/94 combined. Though appointed captain at 22 Franco Baresi led Milan back to the big league and by the end of the 80s they had won two European Cups between 1991 and 93 Milan went 58 games unbeaten and Baresi retired in 1997 with six domestic and three continental titles. He was named Serie A player of the century in 2003.
Batigol is a Fiorentina legend netting 207 in 332 games during nine years spent with the club a natural finisher Batistuta was deadly with both feet and only left la viola when he was 31 joining Roma where he won the double. Batistuta join Fiorentina fresh off a Copa America win with Argentina and scored 13 in his first campaign then 16 in his second however the club finished in the bottom three and dropped to Serie B returning one season after thanks to another 16 goals from the Argentinian and the management of that man Claudio Ranieri once again, he subsequently won a second Copa America and five times scored more than 20 goals in league play, no wonder his nickname is the Angel Gabriel.
A Premier League champion seven times over and a Champions League. Roy Keane was perhaps one of Manchester United’s most underrated players, a relentless winner who ruled the center of the Old Trafford turf to 13 years. But Keane began life in England with Nottingham Forest under the great Brian Clough the coach once Punch Keane in the face after he gave away a goal and the Irishman toughened up becoming a responsible and outstanding midfielder at 21 and attracting interest from United and then big-time Blackburn. In 1993 relegation finally came for Forrest though Keane was voted into the divisions’ team of the year and a clause in his contract allowed him to depart, a deal was quickly agreed with Blackburn but paperwork issues held the move up and after Alex Ferguson got wind of the transfer he rang Keane to offer him a switch to Manchester it turned out to be one of Fergie’s most brilliant ever maneuvers.
No 2nd division has ever seen a greater collection of talent than Serie B did in 2006 when the Calciopoli scandal saw Juventus booted out of the top-flight Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina, and Reggina were all implicated but only the bianconeri suffered relegation prompting exits from Thuram, Cannavaro, Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic but many players stayed loyal with Del Piero, Buffon, Trezeguet, Camoranesi and Ballon d’Or winner Pavel Nedved all remaining in Turin while former star Didier Deschamps returned to coach. The club despite a nine-point deduction as well, Juve won the league by six points with a goal difference twice as good as their closest competitor the next year they came third in Serie A but it was five years before they celebrated another championship. In their defense, that season and every one since, Giorgio Chiellini who had learned his trade as a 22-year-old during that year in Serie B.