The worst thing a player can do is down tools...

Koscielny and Lukaku took questionable actions to get their summer moves

In Summary

• The transfer window was full of controversial moves which left parties unhappy.

• Koscielny has tarnished his Arsenal legacy by forcing a move to France.

Belgian international striker Romeklu Lukaku
Belgian international striker Romeklu Lukaku

The summer of 2005 was one of the biggest of my life. Once Southampton were relegated, I knew I was going to leave St Mary’s and the potential destination did not come much bigger.

When Liverpool made it clear they wanted to sign me, my mind was made up. They had just won the Champions League; England had just selected me for the first time and I couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity to remain in the Premier League, so I told Southampton of my intentions. It’s fair to say there was a degree of reluctance on their part to accept my decision.

They were so inclined to dig their heels in that Rupert Lowe, the former chairman, stopped answering my calls. You can’t begin to understand the frustration that I felt.


But you know what? Not once did it cross my mind to down tools. The club were stubborn but in no way did I let my standards drop. I returned to pre-season training, ensured relations remained good and, eventually, I went around to Rupert’s house to find a solution. By July 20, I signed for Liverpool.

I tell this story in light of some of the things I have seen during the transfer window. Players can find the answer to potential moves if they are open, honest and remain professional but there have been too many episodes in recent weeks of behaviour that has left me dismayed.

Look at Laurent Koscielny. The way he left Arsenal for Bordeaux was a disgrace. This is someone who had been at the Emirates Stadium for nine years, captained the club and had unrelenting support during difficult times with serious injuries.

If you captain a club of Arsenal’s stature, you have a duty to act responsibly. He should have been on the plane for their pre-season tour to the United States — not turning up is the worst thing a professional footballer can do to his team-mates, the fans and the staff.

To make matters worse, the way they revealed his transfer with a video of him peeling off an Arsenal shirt to show a Bordeaux kit was dreadful. He burnt his bridges so badly he will never be able to show his face at the Emirates again.

I played for a number of clubs in my career but I’d like to think I left everywhere on good terms. I’ve always received great ovations when I’ve been back to old stadiums with opposing teams and I can’t understand why you would actively antagonise those who care about you.

Romelu Lukaku will find himself in a similar position. In what way did he ever think it would be OK to train with Anderlecht’s kids just because he was fed up at Manchester United and wanted a move to Inter Milan? How do you not report to work for Manchester United?


What happened to being grown-up about it all? I remember when Tottenham sold me to Stoke. I wasn’t looking to leave but I went and ironed things out with Daniel Levy. If you are prepared to talk, you can eventually find an amicable solution. For Koscielny and Lukaku, it is too late.

David Luiz, meanwhile, forced a move to Arsenal through this week after signing a new deal with Chelsea in May. It will also be interesting to see how things develop with Wilfried Zaha, who I expect will be disappointed not to have joined Everton.

I also expect he will eventually show last season’s form and get his move away from Crystal Palace with an outcome that pleases everyone. Football is a business. I understand why players want to move — I did it enough times!

But I would like to think that I always had respect for the people who put you in that fortunate position. I could never have acted in any other way.