Goal Singapore Monday Top 5 – Players who made goal-scoring returns to former clubs

Following Aaron Ramsey’s goal-scoring exploits against boyhood club Cardiff City over the weekend, we look at other players who have haunted their former clubs this season
Over the weekend, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey returned to his boyhood club Cardiff City and turned in a match-winning performance, scoring a brace in a 3-0 victory. The in-form midfielder refused to celebrate both his goals as a mark of respect to the club he left in 2008 and, following the final whistle, he enjoyed a standing ovation from all four sides of the stadium.

But are all players who return to the clubs they used to play for treated in the same manner by the fans?    

In this week’s Top 5, Goal Singapore takes a look at the players who made goal-scoring returns to their former clubs this season and the reactions that followed.

5. Stephane Sessegnon
West Brom vs Sunderland
West Brom signed Stephane Sessegnon from Sunderland for a club-record of £6 million just hours before the transfer window closed. According to then-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio, the Benin international did not care about the club and did not give his best during matches. West Brom manager Steve Clark, in contrast, believed that his new signing would have the hunger and desire to prove himself at The Hawthorns.

Fate had it that West Brom would face Sunderland that very weekend, and it took only 20 minutes for Sessegnon to score his debut goal. West Brom ran out 3-0 winners in that game thanks to further goals from Liam Ridgewell and Morgan Amalfitano.

Sessegnon, who made 97 appearances for the Black Cats, admitted that he never wanted to leave the club and hence, deliberately did not celebrate his first goal for his new club out of respect for the visiting fans inside the stadium.

“I had three very good years at Sunderland with some great moments,” the 29-year-old said.

“I will always remember the good memories there and the people at the club. But to keep my respect for the club and the fans, I couldn’t celebrate the goal.”

4. Hulk
Zenit St Petersburg vs FC Porto
After spending four seasons in Porto where his attained his world-class status, Hulk moved to Russian club Zenit St Petersburg in 2012. The Brazilian was a relative unknown when Porto signed him from Japanese club Tokyo Verdy in 2008.

Since then, he had scored 78 goals in 170 league appearances, wining four Primeira Division titles, three Portuguese Cups, two Super Cups and the 2011 Europa League in the process.

It took barely a year, though, for the winger to face his former club after both teams were drawn in the same group in the Group G of the Champions League.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Hulk scoring the equalising goal five minutes after his side conceded the opener in the first half. Hulk then had a great opportunity to give his side the three points, but he failed to convert a second half penalty after Porto goalkeeper Helton easily saved his tame spot-kick.

"I scored an important goal but I did not celebrate because Porto and that whole city is in my heart, but I could have taken that penalty better though," Hulk said after the game.

3. David Villa
Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona
Atletico Madrid got at a cut-price deal for David Villa as a replacement to Radamel Falcao at the end of last season. Villa, whose time there was blighted by injury, was considered surplus to requirements, especially with the Catalan side acquiring the services of Neymar.

However, Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer did not wait long to show his previous club what they were missing out on. A little over a month after Villa was sold, both sides met in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the Vicente Calderon. And it took only 12 minutes for the 31-year-old to make his mark for his new club.

It was the Spanish ace’s first goal of the club, and he could not have asked for a better way to score. The goal was an absolute beauty as he executed a stunning volley from the outside of his foot into the bottom corner.

However, the match ended in a draw after Neymar came off the bench to coincidentally score his first goal for the club too.

2. Alessio Cerci
Torino Vs AS Roma
Alessio Cerci was part of the Roma youth system and got his break under Fabio Capello in 2004. But his career took a nosedive soon after that and was sold off to Fiorentina, before eventually finding his feet at current club Torino.

How things have changed, as less than a decade since Cerci left Roma, the 26-year-old - who has scored eight goals in 13 games this season and is rumoured to be targeted by a host of English Premier League clubs including Manchester United and Arsenal - would make his boyhood club pay in record-breaking circumstances.

Roma was going in search for their 11th consecutive win in Seria A this term and match a 53-year-old European record. In fact, they were looking good to attain the record when Kevin Strootman gave the runaway league leaders a first half lead.

The stage was set for Cerci to crash the party, and he duly obliged, tapping in from close range after Riccardo Meggiorini squared the ball to him.

Previously, the Italian international had sworn never to celebrate any goal that he scored against the Giallorossi.

So, did he keep to his promise? Of course not. He ran off to the stands to celebrate.

1. Mario Götze
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich (23/11/2013)

Mario Götze’s transfer from Borussia Dortmund to bitter rivals Bayern Munich had been a well-documented saga in the latter stages of last season. His sale to Bayern was leaked in April prior to their crucial Champions League semi-final second-leg clash against Real Madrid, and it was a move that angered boss Jurgen Klopp and made the playmaker an instant enemy of the Westfalenstadion faithful.

The club that gave the 21-year-old his football education since he was nine publicly proclaimed that their former star would have to go through “yellow-and-black” hell when he played at the Signal-Iduna Park.

Götze started the match on the bench and warmed up in the tunnel rather than on the sidelines. He came on as a substitute early in the second half to 70,000 boos, but it took him only 10 minutes to make his mark on the match to break the deadlock, stabbing home from inside the penalty box.

While Götze did not celebrate his goal out of respect, the act would have done little to appease the Dortmund fans who once adored their Playmaking Prince.