Some teammates are so synonymous with each other it feels wrong mentioning one without the other.
Xavi and Iniesta. Ferdinand and Vidic. Heskey and Owen. Just three examples of when such a pairing cements itself into the footballing vernacular.
In stark contrast, some teammates just do not look right together. So much so that when an image of them wearing the same shirt pops up on your phone, you perform a double take to make sure it’s not one of your mates playing a prank on you.
We feel it is important at this point to promise that there is no Photoshop related trickery contained in the forthcoming article.
Each and every one of the unlikely duos listed below genuinely played together at some point… as hard as it is to believe in some cases.
Robert Pires and Ashley Young
By the time Robert Pires joined Aston Villa at the start of the 2010/2011 season his best years were very much behind him. Ashley Young’s career on the other hand was about to go stratospheric.
Pires spent the majority of the season playing in a number 10 role, with his fleet footed colleague operating down the right hand side as the Villans secured a ninth placed finish.
Fabinho and Cristiano Ronaldo
The story of Fabinho at Real Madrid is as curious as it was short. The Brazilian rocked up at Santiago Bernabeu on a one-year loan deal from Portuguese side Rio Ave.
Liverpool’s ex-RMCF Fabinho: “Could I have signed at PSG in 2017? Yes. Do I regret? No. A regret for not having succeeded in winning at Real Madrid? Yes… Was I approached by Real Madrid last summer? No.” pic.twitter.com/Rzki7mX8vL
— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) January 14, 2020
After impressing for the B Team, he was afforded a solitary appearance for the senior side against Málaga, helping Los Blancos see out a 6-2 win alongside the likes of Luka Modric, Mesut Ozil and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.
He can’t have impressed that much as Real failed to make his loan move permanent at the end of the season.
Louis Saha and Alan Shearer
Louis Saha has been around the block a few times, playing for Fulham, Manchester United and Everton among others. However, did you know before he carved out a niche as a short term striking solution, a young Saha had a fleeting loan spell with Newcastle.
This was a Magpies side in their pomp as well. Newcastle Brown Ale sponsored shirts, Sir Bobby Robson patrolling the touchline and Alan Shearer banging in 150 goals a season.
Saha did not quite manage to reach the same heights, netting just once during his time at St. James’ Park.
George Weah and Shaun Wright-Phillips
The only African player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah had a career filled to the brim with highlights.
However, the cream of the crop must have been his two month spell playing with a teenage Shaun Wright-Phillips at Manchester City.
Should Wright-Phillips ever desire a career in politics he should give his former teammate a call. You know, given that’s he’s now President of Liberia.
Mikael Silvestre and Ronaldo
While he was there, a striker by the name of Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima was terrorising defenders for fun.
Silvestre must have dreaded going in training, having to stop prime Ronaldo scoring every day. No wonder he only lasted a season…
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Eden Hazard
Prior to establishing themselves as superstars, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Eden Hazard briefly shared a changing room at Lille.
While Hazard started to shine during the 2009/2010 season, Aubameyang – who was on loan from Milan at the time – found things more challenging.
The Gabonese striker only managed two Ligue 1 goals all season – an utterly unthinkable tally given the goalscoring form he has showcased since.
Sol Campbell and Andy Carroll
After an utterly bizarre stint at Notts County and a fleeting return to Arsenal, Sol Campbell saw his career out with Newcastle.
While on his welcoming tour of St James’ Park, Campbell would have likely come across a massive Geordie bloke with luscious long hair.
A matter of months later, a media hype train would earn that very same man a £35m move to Liverpool. Yes that’s right. Let us never forget that Liverpool genuinely spent £35m on Andy flippin’ Carroll.
Serge Gnabry and Darren Fletcher
At first glance Serge Gnabry and Darren Fletcher seem to be from two completely different footballing eras. The thought of them being teammates is a strange one. What’s even stranger is that the man who brought these two players together was Tony Pulis.
Unsurprisingly the flair-centric talents of Gnabry rubbed the work rate-obsessed Pulis up the wrong way, with the Welshman boldly claiming that he was not good enough for the Baggies starting XI.
I wonder if he watched the Tottenham vs Bayern Munich game this year and thought: “Ah, that was good. But Chris Brunt is still better.”
Marko Arnautovic and Mario Balotelli
With these two hell raisers in the dressing room, it is nothing short of a miracle that Inter managed to win a Serie A and Champions League double during the 2009/2010 season.
To be fair, Arnautovic barely played with José Mourinho claiming that he had an ”attitude of a child.”
As for Balotelli… “I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would not be a drama – it would be a comedy.”
We guess that’s better.
Yakubu and Shkodran Mustafi
Shkodran Mustafi cut his teeth in Everton’s youth ranks, learning the art of the defensive blunder from the likes of Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert – sorry guys, that’s harsh.
His only ever senior appearance for the Toffees came in the Europa League against BATE Borisov.
With qualification secured, Everton fielded a much rotated side but a few first team players remained, including Premier League icon Yakubu – making Mustafi’s 10 minute cameo that little bit more special.