Much like any sport on the planet, it almost seems inevitable nowadays that when one of the most successful and wealthy teams come knocking for your top stars, it’s almost impossible to say no.
Yet in some cases, not all players are driven by the financial incentives or even the idea of playing under the bright lights on the grandest of stages, some players loyalty has just been unbreakable.
Alan Shearer – Barcelona
After winning two consecutive Golden Boots and a Premier League title with Blackburn, Shearer’s profile began to skyrocket as the Geordie finished as the top scorer at Euro ’96. Despite Sir Alex promising him more silverware, nothing could stand between Shearer and his boyhood club. Sadly for Shearer, although he won his third consecutive Golden Boot, Newcastle lost out to the title finishing second, behind Manchester United.
As the season drew to an end, Shearer had proven to become one of world football’s hottest commodities and European heavyweights Barcelona came sniffing. With Newcastle legend Sir Bobby Robson in charge of the Catalan giants, even his presence was not enough to tempt Shearer away from Tyneside and although there were several phone calls between the two, Shearer stayed faithful and went on to become the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer.
I did. I turned down ….Barcelona! https://t.co/TTLBs9P1vQ
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) July 9, 2017
Jamie Vardy – Arsenal
Arguably the talisman in Leicester’s dramatic Premier League title-winning side in 2016, after finding the back of the net 24 times that year, Vardy had announced himself as one of the top forwards in the country, it looked like a certainty that Vardy would be moving on to pastures new.
After Arsenal triggered Vardy’s £20million release clause before the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament, the now-30-year-old was even reported to be looking at schools in North London for his children. But, after receiving a text from Claudio Ranieri that simply read ‘the dream continues’ Vardy’s heart trumphed his brain and he agreed to stay at the King Power Stadium.
Steven Gerrard – Chelsea
Although it appears to be an unwritten rule on Merseyside that you do not mention it, the fact is, just six weeks after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory on that famous night in Turin, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard handed in a transfer request in order to push through a move to Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Remember when Steven Gerrard handed a transfer request in and was going to join Chelsea but got death threats? People forget that.
— Jack (@JTFS_) August 11, 2017
Ronaldinho – Manchester United
Like Gascoigne and Shearer, the legendary Brazilian is another who just slipped through the fingers of Sir Alex. In 2003, the future Ballon d’Or winner had just broken out as PSG’s star man and the 23-year-old was the man every coach in Europe was begging for.
After it was confirmed that Ronaldinho would be leaving Paris, it was all but confirmed that he was on his way to Manchester, PSG officials even stated that the deal was 99.9% complete, it was just a matter of signing the paperwork. That is until the Brazilian star received a last-minute phone call from the Barcelona president to join the Catalan giants.
Instead, Ronaldinho followed in the footsteps of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario as iconic Brazilians to wear the famous red and blue.
Francesco Totti – Real Madrid
Nicknamed ‘The Eighth King Of Rome’ it was never going to be easy for someone to tempt Totti away from the Stadio Olimpico, but, in 2001 and coming off the back of winning his only Serie A winners’ medal, Real Madrid were desperate to sign the Italian forward and were willing to break the transfer record in order to secure his signature.
Instead, Totti famously rejected the Spanish giants by saying:
“They taught us in school that family is the most important thing. Did you ever hear of someone leaving his poor parents to live with rich strangers?”
Totti never won a fraction of what he could have at the Bernabeu, but finishing his career as Serie A’s second-highest all-time goalscorer, he and Roma enjoyed a very special 25 years together.
"I spent alot of money buying players for Real Madrid, the one I always wanted though was Totti. He said he wouldn't leave his Roma" pic.twitter.com/Bb0UOpuPMz
— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) September 27, 2017
Paul Gascoigne – Manchester United
To this day, Sir Alex Ferguson still believes that his biggest regret during his near three-decade reign in charge at Old Trafford was being unable to secure a then-21-year-old Paul Gascoigne. In 1988, Gazza was the most exciting player to emerge from the British Isles and had just been voted the Young Player of the Season.
After shaking hands with Ferguson and agreeing on terms, Ferguson went on holiday excited about the future prospects of his team, but that all changed when he received a call saying that Paul had signed for Tottenham instead, despite being on the way to sign for United. It was later reported that Spurs had actually brought Gasgoine’s family a house in order to sway his decision towards North London.
Alessandro Del Piero – Barcelona
Totti isn’t the only Italian cult legend to be worshipped for their loyalty. After winning the World Cup with Italy and also running away with Serie A, Juventus were at the centre of football’s Calciopli scandal and Juventus found their team of superstars demoted to Serie B.
The Old Lady was stripped of many megastars who moved on to other elite European clubs, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro. With a jumble sale atmosphere at Juventus, Del Piero’s loyalty was put to the test when Barcelona tried to sign the Italian star, however, Del Piero immediately rejected the Spanish side saying:
“A true gentleman never leaves his lady”
Although Juve would bounce back on the first attempt, Del Piero wouldn’t lift any silverware for the following four years.
Pavel Nedved – Inter Millan
Despite being another star to stand by Juve during their darkest hour, Nedved was left frustrated with Juventus in 2009 when the Italian side announced they would not be renewing his contract. After the news was made public, then-Inter manager Jose Mourinho called Nedved and urged him to join Nerazzurri promising him he would win the Champions League.
Nedved made it clear that he was a fan of Mourinho and knew the success he would have achieved under the Portuguese coach. Sadly for Inter though, Nedved’s love for Juventus was too strong and due to the rivalry between the two clubs, Nedved couldn’t bring himself to sign for another Italian club.
Nedved missed out on winning a famous treble with Inter the following season. On the other hand, he’s now the vice-president of the club closest to his heart.