WHEN Wayne Bridge traded red and white for the blue of Roman Abramovich’s Russian revolution at Stamford Bridge it cut me real deep.
His shiny sticker from the official Premier League book for 2002-03 had taken an exclusive space on the back of my school planner; some aggressive graffiti soon followed.
Retirement and injury are two outcomes which can be accepted and not contested but jumping ship to rivals or to bigger clubs always leaves a sour taste for even the most understanding of fans.
It’s not dissimilar to an Inbetweeners sketch, propping up a nightclub bar buying drinks for girls only for them to move along when better looking and richer blokes swan in.
My youth fuelled naivety led to my frustrations as Wayne crossed the bridge to Chelsea, but in hindsight a move to the London club for most players at the time would have been too exciting and enticing to turn down.
Now back in the big time and taking unfathomable amounts of praise from the footballing world, fresh rumours linking Saints’ latest group of stars with moves away have began to circulate.
The departures of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale had an unfortunate necessity about them and fetching such a fee for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was largely received as tremendous business.
Despite this the club was slapped across the forehead with the label of being a selling club.
Performing as Saints are in the league and with such flair and style they will no doubt have the vultures circling, but this time round the club have a much stronger hand than ever before.
Other than the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and possibly Arsenal, what do other Premier League clubs have to offer that Saints can’t or won’t be able to in the very near future should its ambitions be realised?
With the latest crop having been through a lot with the club, guiding them from the depths of League One and others joining the club at the age of 8, there must be strong emotional ties.
Loyalty is often dismissed as a false commodity in football but you can sense genuine affection for the club.
Hopefully this connection coupled with the belief that career ambitions can be realised on the South Coast will allow Saints to hold onto their top performers.