5 Players Who Managed to Mend From Toxic Situations With Their Own Fans

Hated by your own fans, constantly jeered, ridiculed, and subsequently stripped of the captaincy at the club you had played over 140 matches for.

It isn’t going all too well for Granit Xhaka at Arsenal.

Whatever side of the fence you sit on for this one, the doom and gloom that hovers over Xhaka’s Gunners career is showing no signs of dissipating.

Or does it? Are there any footballers who have made an incredible comeback from such an instance and allowed their supporters to welcome them back into their arms? Yes, is the short answer. Not many, but a few, and for varying reasons.

So there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel for the Swiss in north London, even if it appears they want ​rid of him ​as soon as January. Anyway, here are five examples of players who recovered heroically from some unsavoury positions with their own fanbases.


Emmanuel Eboue – Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor,Emmanuel Eboue

What better role model to aspire to than one who underwent similar grief at the very same club?

With ​Arsenal leading 1-0 against Wigan in 2008, Eboue was brought on in the first half after an injury to Samir Nasri, and proceeded to do nigh-on everything he could possibly do extremely badly.

It culminated in him tackling his own player, only to then immediately give the ball away (again) which left Arsene Wenger with just one option left. Having already seen his every failed move lambasted by the home fans, Wenger withdrew the substitute to a cacophony of boos.

Supremely heartbreaking to see, Eboue chose not to back down and eventually won the supporters over with his dedication and application. Granted, he received this treatment after just one game, unlike Xhaka’s being the culmination of countless poor outings, but hey, gives him something to aspire to.


Luka Modric – Croatia

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH62-CRO-ENG

This particular one is shrouded in controversy. At the heart of a corruption scandal which continues to divide Croatia’s football fans, ​Modric is facing a charge of perjury, with a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison. 


​Due to comments he contradicted himself on over the 
former Dinamo Zagreb executive Zdravko Mamic – sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for fraud and corruption – Modric was the subject of vitriol in his home nation for appearing to change his testimony – having initially pointed the finger at Mamić in his initial statement – earning him condemnation across a split Croatia.

With one half of the country on Modric’s side, and the other finding him equally at fault, his historic escapades in the 2018 World Cup went some way towards rebuilding that bridge.

The 34-year-old led his side to the final of the competition, scooping three man-of-the-match awards throughout the tournament as they were eventually defeated by France despite a valiant effort that no nearly yielded glory. This story is not yet over, but the Ballon d’Or winner’s exploits in Russia have helped the feeling towards him from the fans somewhat.


David Beckham – LA Galaxy

AC Milan v Los Angeles Galaxy

It’s hard to envisage Beckham being disliked by anyone, but the fact of the matter is that ‘Golden Balls’ was the centre of widespread abuse during his time at LA Galaxy.

After 30 ​MLS appearances across two campaigns, Beckham was given the chance to join Serie A giants ​Milan on a six-month loan spell, with many feeling the Englishman still had what it took to cut it in Europe.

Unfortunately, however, this meant he missed 17 games of the 2009 MLS campaign, which prompted disgust from the Galaxy fans who labeled him a ‘fraud’ that cared of nothing other than personal glory.

There were even ​confrontations with supporters upon his dreaded return to California, as Beckham did his best to patch up what was an increasingly frosty relationship.

And, well, two MLS Cups later, everyone kind of forgot about it.


Mario Gotze – Borussia Dortmund

Mario Goetze

Agreeing to leave ​Dortmund for ​Bayern Munich just weeks before the two clubs met in the 2013 Champions League final, Die Borussen fans immediately turned on their now former star for the manner in which he left the club.

His three years in Bavaria granted him three trophies, but an injury-hit final season saw Gotze dropped on multiple occasions by Pep Guardiola, and eventually brought an end to his time with Die Roten. 

So, where would he go? Interestingly, back to Dortmund, where he was met with vexation from the fans who once loved him.

Calls of ‘Judas’ were commonplace for many months, with sections of the support jeering his every touch. While not setting the world alight, Gotze has gone some way to appeasing those supporters since, netting seven times in the ​Bundesliga last season and twice already this term. 

Simply by knuckling down and fighting for the shirt has won them over once more. Credit to him, so take note, Granit.


Alan Smith – Leeds United

Leeds United v Charlton Athletic

Seen crying on the pitch and kissing the badge after ​Leeds were famously relegated from the ​Premier League in the 2003/04 season, Smith endeared himself to be one of the fans’ own.

That all changed, however, when it emerged that Smith had agreed to join bitter rivals ​Manchester United just one day later. Accusations of treachery were prominent from large sections of the fanbase who turned on their poster boy for joining the Red Devils, with banners in subsequent games labelling him ‘Judas’ and ‘Traitor’.

It all was revealed later on, though, that Smith was caught in catch-22 in the wake of Leeds’ relegation; either allow Leeds to go into administration due to the finances they wouldn’t receive over the transfer, or joining Leeds’ rivals and saving the club financially.

They were a bit more forgiving after they found that out.


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