Gone are the days where playing for the national pride was the biggest honour for footballers.
It was rumoured in the mid-2000's that the 'Selecao' –– the Brazillian football team –– would play without demanding to get paid, as playing for your national team was the biggest reward any athlete could wish for. Whether that's true or not, representing the national team at the highest level is what football used to be about –– a heady mix of pride and honour.
However, these days when players reach a certain peak status, they tend to think they are bigger than the team. Here are the five instances of ego winning over national pride, when players rthought they were bigger than the team.
1. Thulani Serero -- South Africa (2017)
With a crucial World Cup Qualifier double-header against Senegal, Bafana Bafana needed to get all their best players to the camp, especially those playing abroad.
"He did not get in touch with me at all"
But when Thulani Serero, who plays in Netherlands for Vitesse, was picked for the squad, he rejected the national call-up, claiming that he was not going to fly all the way to South Africa from Europe if he was not guaranteed to play in the final team.
According to Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, Serero did not want to come to the camp unless he was not guaranteed he was going to play. "He did not get in touch with me at all," Baxter said.
He obviously does not want to sit on the bench or play a cameo role, but rejecting a national call-up is disrespect to your team and country.
A player is never bigger than a team, and whether it was for his pride or ego, this did not sit well with South Africans.
Thulani Serero says he won't honour Bafana call up unless he's guaranteed to play against Senegal.— Lady D Iron Lady #22 (@LadyD_IronLady) November 7, 2017
What a Disgrace.😮 pic.twitter.com/dyzgVun0DG
#Bafana Stuart Baxter should straight drop Thulani Serero and never select him AGAIN. Who told him he is better than others?— Ayanda Frances Felem (@AyandaFelemZA) November 7, 2017
2. Joel Matip -- Cameroon (2017)
Cameroonian Joel Matip arguably made the biggest mistake of his footballing career when he rejected the chance to play for Cameroon in order to stay in England for his club fixtures. He ended up shooting himself in the foot –– his country won the 2017 Africa Cup Of Nations for the first time in 15 years.
"It is Africa, and you can never compare it to European things."Joel Matip
Matip was one of seven players who refused to play so they could stay with their clubs, despite Cameroon's football association arguing against that the national team had to come first with the 2017 tournament on the horizon.
When Cameroon won the cup, Matip declared his international career over, saying, "It is Africa, and you can never compare it to European things."
3. Carlos Tevez -- Machester City (2011)
Manchester City was playing a crucial European tie with Bayern Munich when City boss Roberto Mancini requested that Carlos Tevez warm up so that he could be introduced into the game.
Tevez, however, refused, and Mancini was livid. The forward ultimately refused to play in the match at all, and was suspended by the club. He went into self-exile for five months. On his return in March 2012, he issued an apology to Manchester City.
The ego-driven tantrum has a happy ending: he turned out to be an influential player at the conclusion of the 2011/12 season, helping City win their first Premier League title.
4. William Gallas -- Chelsea (2006)
In a bizarre chain of events in 2006, when the French former international was desperate to leave Chelsea for Arsenal in the transfer window, William Gallas refused to play for the team he was still contracted to. Absurd, right?
Chelsea even issued a statement claiming that Gallas had threatened to score own goals if he was chosen to play. Either way, Gallas got his transfer to Arsenal that year...
After four years with the Gunners, Gallas switched again and played for Tottenham Hotspur from 2010-2013.
5. Paul Scholes -- Manchester United (2001)
One of the finest players of his generation, Paul Scholes showed Sir Alex Furgerson his dark side in 2001, when he refused to play a third-round FA cup tie with Arsenal –– because he believed he was playing for "a reserve team".
The team travelling to Arsenal comprised mostly fringe player, but instead of taking the opportunity to shine brighter among them, Scholes took the wounded-ego route.
"I don't know why I did what I did in 2001," he has since said, "but it is something I really regretted doing. I wasn't in a great mood –– I had been left out the Liverpool game the previous weekend, and I knew that the team going down to Arsenal in the cup was basically a reserve side."