Super Eagles midfielder, Kelechi Nwakali, joined a select few players who got their contracts ended by their clubs in bizarre fashions.
On April 5, 2022, Spanish second-tier club Huesca practically told the former Nigeria U17 captain his contract was not worth the paper it was written on. The club took that action after Nwakali reported back to the club ten days late in February while, according to them, offering unconvincing excuses. Nwakali fired back, saying his contract was ended because he failed to heed the club’s request not to honour Nigeria’s call to the last AFCON in Cameroon.
As this current saga continues, let’s look at five players who got the same meal from a menu served cold.
5. Sergi Guardiola
We didn’t use the name Guardiola as a clickbait for you to think we were referring to Pep, the current coach of Manchester City. On December 28, 2015, Sergi Guardiola, no relation to Pep, was unveiled to the sporting world by Barcelona, but by the evening, his contract was yanked off.
We often hear the saying, Twitter never forgets. A past tweet came to haunt the then 24-year-old. Several tweets by the player back in 2013, among which was “Hala Madrid“, a blatant declaration of support for Barcelona’s bitter rivals, Real Madrid, was deemed offensive towards the club and all Catalans.
Despite the player’s protest that his friend used his phone to send those messages, Barcelona wasted no time cancelling the contract.
The tweets have long been deleted, but at the mention of that name (Sergi Guardiola), every tongue will confess to a footballer’s stupidity, leading to his contract being rendered void after a few hours.
Even the fictional Solomon Grundy ‘lived’ longer!
4. Adrian Mutu
When Chelsea signed Adrian Mutu with £15.8 million from the Italian side, Parma, in 2003, it looked like a marriage made in heaven. The striker even got to a flying start, scoring four goals in his first three games for the Blues. Things, though, were about to turn red.
‘Self-destruct’ has its origin in the US, but the Romanian pushed the button at will. It started with the player losing custody of his son when his tumultuous marriage crashed after two years. The papers feasted not only on that but on a sex scandal with a Romanian movie star that was more sensual and worthy of reporting.
We are not sure Mutu saw any Fast and Furious franchise, but his car chase involving police paid ‘tributes’ to the movie.
The player has slammed with a driving ban afterwards. Chelsea stood by their star forward until this final straw. The club came down hard on the player and ended his contract after he admitted to taking drugs, alleged to be cocaine.
3. Ahn Jung Hwan
In pop culture, Italians are depicted as the king of revenge. Ahn Jung Hwan got served a plate by his club Perugia in 2002.
When Italy met co-host South Korea at the round-of-16 of the 2002 World Cup, nobody, except the Asians, fancied their chances against the three-time winners. The death toll sounded when Christian Vieri gave the Italians the lead after just 18 minutes. But an 88th-minute equaliser by Seol Ki-Hyeon raised the hopes of the underdogs. Was an upset in the offing? Sure, it was!
With penalty shootouts looming large, Hwan scored a 117th-minute golden goal for South Korea, not knowing he would pay a heavy price.
On June 19, a day after he led his country to the quarter-final of the World Cup, Hwan woke up with the news that his contract with the Italian Serie A side had been ended. Club president Luciano Gaucci unashamedly said he wasn’t prepared to pay wages to someone who sent his country packing from the World Cup.
Petty? You can say that again.
2. Adam Johnson
When Adam Johnson joined his boyhood team, Sunderland, for £10 million in 2012 from Manchester City, the winger felt at home. He took this feeling too far as he came enmeshed in a sex scandal that almost tore the club and the city apart.
Initially, Sunderland stood by their player. But when he pleaded guilty to sleeping with a 15-year-old girl, they had no choice but to part ways with him. They did it with grace by not pushing for the player’s right to sue for a breach of contract.
On March 24, 2016, the winger, who had 12 caps for the England national team, was sentenced to six years in prison “for grooming and sexual activity with a girl aged 15”. The player was ordered to pay £50,000 of the prosecution’s legal fees of £67,132.
1. Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka’s one-year contract with the English side, West Brom, came to a sour and abrupt end after the Frenchman was banned for five games and fined £80,000 by the Football Association for making the quenelle sign after scoring in a 3-3 draw against West Ham in December 2014.
A quenelle is a hand gesture devised by French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who said it was an anti-establishment sign. Still, many saw it as an anti-Semitic gesture that reminded them of the Nazi salute.
Anelka claimed his act was not anti-Semitic nor racist, but the FA thought otherwise and was fined. The player took to his Twitter handle to free himself from West Ham’s contract. The club made it official by duly obliging his request but called it termination of the contract.
At 23, Kelechi Nwakali has a lot to offer the football world and will surely bounce back from this setback. He can take solace in the story of Ahn Jung Hwan, who, after the Italian (hatchet) job, played for seven other clubs, including Metz and Duisburg, and eight more years for South Korea before retiring in 2010.