The importance of fans in football games has grown in recent years, with spectators serving as the proverbial twelfth man. Teams can sometimes achieve greater success away from home because they are not subjected to the boos and jeers of their home fans.
In the 2020-21 Premier League season, Manchester United accumulated 43 points away from home but only 31 at Old Trafford. While fan support can make a significant difference in game outcomes, some fans have a history of booing their own players and team. On that note, here are five legendary players who have been booed by their own fans.
Number 5: Neymar
In 2017, Neymar stunned the football world by joining Paris Saint-Germain for a whopping €222 million transfer fee. As a result, he became the most expensive player of all time.
However, in the summer of 2019, reports surfaced that the Brazilian was unhappy at PSG and was attempting to force a return to Barcelona. Neymar had also missed the first five games of the season, so it was no surprise that the PSG fans were dissatisfied with their star player.
PSG fans booed the Brazilian forward on several occasions during his return to the first team against Strasbourg in the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season.
When Neymar’s name was read out in the starting lineup, they booed and jeered. They also heckled him whenever he touched the ball, shot wide, or had any other opportunity to do so.
Neymar’s acrobatic volley in injury time secured all three points for PSG, but his win was met with a mixed reaction of cheers and jeers.
PSG fans, on the other hand, have grown fond of the Brazilian superstar in recent years. Neymar was instrumental in Paris reaching their first Champions League final in 2019-20.
Number4: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is arguably Real Madrid’s most underappreciated player of the twenty-first century. On several occasions, he has irritated Real Madrid fans.
The Welshman’s £90 million summers 2013 transfer from Tottenham Hotspur remains Real Madrid’s most expensive transfer of all time, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, he formed a lethal attacking trio for Los Blancos, winning 16 trophies and scoring 106 goals.
Bale has scored some of Real Madrid’s most important goals in the last decade. This includes goals in two Champions League finals and an incredible solo effort against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final in 2014.
Bale would have been an undisputed legend at most other clubs, but Real Madrid fans are notoriously difficult to please. Despite his exploits, the Welshman could never live up to the exceptionally high standards at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Following reports in the Spanish press that Bale was more interested in golf than playing for Real Madrid, fans turned against him. Large sections of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd booed him on a regular basis.
Bale, on the other hand, did not hold back and poked fun at Real Madrid fans after an international game. He held up a flag with the words ‘Wales.’ Golf. Madrid. That is the order’.
It’s safe to say that Bale’s relationship with the Los Blancos faithful is still strained.
Number 3: Wayne Rooney
Many consider Wayne Rooney to be one of the most gifted English players of the twentieth century. However, he remains a divisive figure in English football.
At the 2010 FIFA World Cup, English fans turned against their team, resulting in one of the most infamous booing incidents in the game. England had a long history of falling short in international tournaments at the time. Fabio Capello’s team, on the other hand, was one of the favorites heading into the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
England was expected to finish first in their group, but they were held to a 1-1 tie against the United States in their first game. The Three Lions desperately needed a win against Algeria to advance to the knockout stage. England’s star-studded squad, on the other hand, failed to pose a genuine threat to an unfancied Algerian side.
The game ended in a scoreless draw, and the English fans booed their team off the field at the final whistle. Rooney, a Manchester United legend, felt betrayed by his own fans and launched an x-rated rant at a TV camera as he exited the field.
England advanced from the group stage but was thrashed 4-1 by Germany in Round 16.
Number 2: Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is unquestionably a Real Madrid legend in every way. As a player and manager for Los Blancos, he has achieved unprecedented success.
Many consider the Frenchman one of the most elegant and talented midfielders in the game’s history. Even Zidane had to deal with the backlash from Real Madrid fans. On numerous occasions, he was booed by home fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Frenchman had a dream start to his career in Madrid, winning the UEFA Champions League in his first season. During his 5-year tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane would only win one more trophy, which turned the fans against him.
Boos and catcalls replaced the love he received in the first few seasons. That was especially true as Zidane’s career progressed, and he became a shadow of the player he once was. The boos from Real Madrid fans only grew louder as time passed before the legendary Frenchman retired in 2006.
When fans at Real Madrid jeered Cristiano Ronaldo during a home game, Zidane remarked:
“I don’t understand the jeers for Ronaldo, but I look at it and realize it happened to me (as well).”
Number 1: Cristiano Ronaldo
In Real Madrid’s illustrious 119-year history, Cristiano Ronaldo is the club’s most successful and decorated player. During his nine-year stay in the Spanish capital, the Portuguese amassed an impressive tally of 16 trophies. This includes four Champions League titles and two league championships.
The Manchester United striker is Real Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 450 goals in 438 competitive appearances for the Spanish giant.
Ronaldo was purchased from Manchester United for a whopping £84.6 million in the summer of 2009. Real Madrid legends Eusebio and Alfredo Di Stefano unveiled the Portuguese in front of a packed Santiago Bernabeu. He proved to be Real Madrid’s most successful transfer in history, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner paying dividends both on and off the field.
Ronaldo’s incredible goal-scoring record and contributions, however, were insufficient to satisfy the Real Madrid faithful. On several occasions, he was booed and catcalled. Sergio Ramos was eventually forced to speak up to defend his illustrious teammate.
Despite a strong performance in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Napoli, Ronaldo was booed by the home crowd for passing up a simple opportunity. Sergio Ramos, the then-Real Madrid captain, stated in a post-match interview:
“I would advise the fans to pause for a moment… He’s a historic player for Real Madrid; he proves it year after year; look at what he’s accomplished.”
The Portuguese were also booed following Los Blancos’ 3-0 victory over Real Sociedad, in which he scored. This time, however, the legendary forward responded, shouting “sons of b******” to the booing fans.