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Played for both: Five European stars that crossed El Clasico divide

| 22.03.2015

It’s that time of the season again, as eternal rivals Barcelona (odds-on with Coral at 4/7 to lift La Liga) and Real Madrid (11/8) contest El Clasico, one of Europe’s most famous football fixtures.

This superstar-stuffed clash at the Nou Camp promises to be yet another thriller, with La Liga top spot in the balance. So, Coral writers began thinking about which Galacticos have swapped sides, despite the bitter animosity between Spain’s big-guns.

Here’s who we came up with:

Luis Enrique
Now in charge of the Catalan club, coach Enrique is quite a contentious figure, having previously scored in El Clasico for both clubs.

The Gijon-born former Spain star turned out for Madrid first, but apparently felt unloved by the fanbase. An adaptable attacker, Enrique was deployed in every position, bar centre back and goalkeeper during his career, and scored for Real in a famous 5-0 thrashing of his current club.

That didn’t stop him from leaving Los Blancos on a free transfer, however, and famously stating: “My time at Madrid was like a pre-season, preparing me for this, for what might happen if I signed for Barcelona.

“I recognise myself in white. I think blue-and-claret suits me better,” he added. Ouch.

See Enrique ignoring the baying Bernabeu crowd to help Barca win:

Michael Laudrup
Perhaps Denmark’s greatest ever player, intelligent and elegant pass-master Laudrup’s decision to jump ship from the Nou Camp to the Bernabeu was apparently all business.

After starring in Johan Cruyff’s ‘dream team’ to win four successive La Liga titles, Laudrup looked set to fall foul of the three-foreigner rule and be rotated. A controversial switch to the Spanish capital followed, where Laudrup lifted his fifth La Liga trophy.

Laudrup has since commented, saying: “People say I wanted to go to Real Madrid just to get revenge. I say revenge from what? I’ve had a perfect time…I went to Madrid because they were so hungry to win.”

Robert Prosinecki
Crafty former Croatia playmaker Prosinecki may be more familiar to fans of British football after his fabulous performances for Portsmouth, where he remains a cult hero.

West German-born Prosinecki’s promise did, however, cause Real to fork out a substantial fee for his services back in 1991, but injuries stalled his progress.

Probably best remembered at the Bernabeu for converting his cracking El Clasico free kick, Prosinecki later set up camp at the Catalan club for just one season, making 19 La Liga appearances.

Watch Prosinecki’s scorching El Clasico strike here:

Gheorghe Hagi
Nicknamed ‘Regele’ in homeland Romania, visionary attacking midfield talent Hagi earned moves to Real and Barca after impressive World Cups in 1990 and 1994 respectively, with a stint at Italian club Brescia in between.

Hagi, later a hero for Turkish side Galatasaray after helping defeat Arsenal in the 1999/00 UEFA Cup Final (and enjoying an early bath for a punch on Tony Adams), returned to haunt Real by beating them in the European Super Cup.

Luis Figo
Portugal legend Figo has certainly attracted the most hostile criticism for crossing El Clasico’s divide, and spent five seasons with Barca and Los Blancos each, winning La Liga with both.

After Figo became a hero, and even an icon, of proudly independent Nou Camp fans, Real triggered a then world record release-clause to bring the wing wizard to the Bernabeu, in what was seen as the ultimate act of betrayal.

Fearless Figo was subjected to much vitriol on his subsequent El Clasico returns, including the infamous pig head incident, with one match even suspended for 20 minutes to defuse the atmosphere.

Check out that famously fierce Nou Camp reception here:

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Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.