Five players who swore at their own fans: Xhaka, Lescott, Aizlewood
Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka followed in a proud tradition of players to swear at their own fans, as Aston Villa, Leeds United and Sunderland supporters can relate to.
Xhaka is not the first player to let frustration get the better of him, and he almost certainly won’t be the last.
We’ve taken a look at five players to swear at their own fans.
Writing for the Daily Mail in 2013 after Jack Wilshere raised the middle finger towards Manchester City fans, Kilbane recalled an ugly incident during a pre-season trip to Belgium with Sunderland after he had struggled to win over supporters.
“We were losing in Genk. Reidy had already copped abuse the previous week in Antwerp and had beer thrown at him by one unhappy Mackem. It was that sort of trip.
“I headed over to take a throw-in, someone hurled abuse in my direction and I reacted with two fingers.
“It changed my Sunderland career forever, and not for the better, of course. I know that moment of madness tarnished my reputation with Sunderland supporters, and some have not forgiven me to this day. And that’s a shame because I loved my time in the North East and did feel a rapport with the club’s supporters.
“The game was held up, Reidy took me off straight away, and then I took more abuse from some supporters as I trudged over, head down, and walked towards tunnel. I immediately regretted what I’d done and was desperate to take the moment back and apologise, for myself and the manager.
“And I did say sorry, and I did mean it. And I still regret it.”
Kilbane experienced a similar incident while playing for Coventry towards the end of his career, although he has no regrets about that particular moment.
“I went over to take a throw-in (what is it about throw-ins?) and someone shouted something disgusting about me and my family. Absolutely stunned, and sickened by the insult, I told this person where to go with a phrase, containing two words and seven letters, which I wouldn’t repeat in this column.
“It wasn’t my proudest moment in my career but I was angered and sickened by the comment. I was within my rights to walk off the pitch in disgust.”
As captain of Leeds United at the time, Aizlewood become the subject of fans’ frustrations with the Whites languishing in the Second Division shortly after the appointment of Howard Wilkinson.
After scoring what proved to be the winner against Walsall at Elland Road towards the end of the 1988-89 season, Aizlewood celebrated by flicking the Vs towards the Kop.
Wilkinson responded by immediately substituting the midfielder, who never played for Leeds again.
Brad Guzan & Joleon Lescott
After Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw with League Two outfit Wycombe in the 2015-16 FA Cup, fans expressed their anger at the attitudes of substitutes Guzan and Lescott, who were competing at who could spit chewing gum closest to the touchline.
Supporters then complained that they were told to “f*ck off” by the duo.
“I object to two senior players spending 90 minutes laughing and joking on the bench and littering the pitch with their chewing in some sort of childish game,” one eyewitness told Vital Football.
“The guy next to me knocked on the dugout, they both turned round, we said they were disgraceful and obviously didn’t care.
“With that Guzan told him to ‘f*ck off’, I knocked the dugout and told Lescott he is supposed to be Villa to which he replied,’ I am.’
“He turned away, I knocked the dug out again and said, ‘Why are you not acting like one?’ with which he said, ‘F*ck off.'”
A month later, Lescott ‘pocket’ tweeted a picture of a Mercedes after a 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool. Both players left Villa at the end of the season upon their relegation to the Championship.
The latest example of a player swearing at his own fans, Xhaka cupped his ears and shouted “f*ck off” as he was jeered off the pitch during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
Xhaka has earned sympathy from some corners, although he has equally been condemned by others.
It’s all quite sad really. For neutrals, it’s also quite funny. But sad nonetheless.
Granit Xhaka being jeered by his own fans 😱😱 no player deserve this no matter the situation. The hate on him is too much. Xhaka is a fantastic player. It's so disappointing, though I'm not in support of his reaction. The fans pushed him though. Emery is the problem of Arsenal pic.twitter.com/F1Nsm8DwrA
— Pablo Quavo (@pabloquavo1) October 27, 2019