There have been some questionable winners of the Champions League in the past, sometimes even in the greatest sides, and it’s enough to make you think that if these guys have managed it, what were we all doing wrong?
There are also some seriously great players who haven’t won it at all, and you have to wonder if it’s just sometimes the luck of the draw and who you end up actually playing – or sitting on the bench – for, but then again that’s probably why some players join clubs they know they have no chance of playing for week in, week out.
With this in mind, here’s my selection of the ‘Worst Winners XI’ of all-time (more like since 1999 as that’s as far as my young brain will stretch back to).
Yes, I’m surprised as you are that this man has a Champions League winners medal. However, he was number two to Petr Cech in that famous win over Bayern Munich in 2012, and this was enough to earn the current Leeds United goalkeeper a winners medal.
He is exactly the kind of player who stayed at a club because of the money and chance of winning trophies, and Asmir Begovic could be Turnbull 2.0 in a few years.
His spell at Chelsea wasn’t one to remember, after being known for his blunders at both senior and reserve level. He left a year after receiving the medal, and ended up at Doncaster Rovers. Not much to shout about really.
My favourite ever Champions League winner, and what a way to win it. A massive 3-0 down to a world-class AC Milan side, only to win on penalties in an unbelievable night in Istanbul in 2005. His opposite number that night? Only Paolo Maldini.
And, for those who don’t know Djimi Traore, take a look at the wonder (own) goal above. Class.
He made 88 appearances for the Reds in a seven year spell at the club, before joining Charlton for £2 million in 2006. His final club was Seattle Sounders in the MLS, where he scored his first career goal, 18 years into it.
Somehow this lad was part of United’s treble winning year in 1999, albeit he was only on the bench for the final.
He only featured 85 times for United in a nine-year spell at the club, and even popped up with six goals for the Red Devils. But, let’s just say he wasn’t in the same class as Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen or even Jonny Evans.
When you think about the absolutely dire players to have won a major trophy because of their teammates and club, it boggles the mind.
The Brazilian defender won the Champions League as a Milan player in 2003, when they defeated Juventus on penalties at Old Trafford after a goalless 120 minutes. Hardly a classic really, but a very Italian final in every sense of the word.
Some may remember the defender from his not-so-successful spell as a Leeds United defender, where he was involved in a defence that conceded 24 goals in his seven appearances, and he was even sent off on his home debut for the club.
How he went on to make over 50 caps for Brazil is beyond me, given he makes David Luiz look like he is worth £150 million.
Not one of Barcelona’s finest players during the Champions League win over Arsenal in 2006, and he’s certainly one that’s quickly forgotten.
He made over 127 appearances in a Barcelona shirt, somehow.
He could’ve cost them the game too, as his lacklustre defending left Sol Campbell to nod home a free header to give Arsenal an early lead that night too. Not even a player that Barca fans care to remember really, despite playing for them in their golden era – or, more accurately, another one of their golden eras.
He was pretty average for Sunderland and Portsmouth in the Premier League, which then begs the question – how has he managed to win a Champions League medal?
He was bought by Inter as a replacement for Patrick Viera, and Esteban Cambiasso as they were suffering from long-term injuries. But, I’m not really sure how Muntari can be put in the same league as the pair.
He won his medal in 2010 as Inter defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Bernabeu and even won the treble that year under Jose Mourinho.
Here is one the one that surely had to be the first name on the team sheet of the worst winners of any trophy, well ever. How this man was part of United’s treble winning squad is really something special.
He only made 14 appearances for the club after signing from York City, before joining Middlesborough in 2001.
Take a moment to think of the amount of Manchester United players who won just about every domestic and European trophy going, and think about how poor some of them actually are. Frightening I know.
The pairing of AS Monaco and FC Porto for the 2004 final was odd to start with, and it was sure to create some rather questionable winners, with some of Jose Mourinho’s side going on to achieve greatness and others going on to well, very little.
Pedro Mendes, the man who was more known during his time with Tottenham for almost being killed by Ben Thatcher, somehow wangled his way to a Champions League medal, and like Muntari after him, won the treble under Mourinho. Note to players everywhere. Play for Mourinho. You will win stuff.
He was so close to being remembered for scoring from inside his own half at Old Trafford, if only there was goal line technology in those days, or officials who had been to specsavers.
There couldn’t just be one player from that Istanbul win for the Reds in 2005, could there? Milan Baros was hardly a world beater, but he did manage to help Liverpool win their fifth Champions League, thanks for giving them the ‘five times’ chant Milan, thanks a lot.
His career went downhill after winning this honour, as he was sold to Aston Villa for £6.5 million, crazily, this was nearly £3 million more than Liverpool paid for him.
He was soon working his way back to his native Czech Republic after brief spells at Portsmouth and Lyon, as well as a stint at Galatasaray.
The man I fondly remember for scoring Germany’s only goal in their 5-1 drubbing in their own back yard by England all the way back in 2001, actually secured a Champions League medal with Bayern Munich just three and a half months before. They defeated Valencia 5-4 on penalties after the 1-1 draw at the San Siro.
So much expectation was on the shoulders of the 6ft5 forward, but he didn’t really provide anywhere near as much as the German’s first thought he would.
Interestingly, he was once rejected by Luton Town, and he still ended up winning the biggest team prize in European football.
Last, but most certainly not least. Benni McCarthy was part of the same side as Pedro Mendes that won the trophy in 2004. He left Porto in 2006 for Blackburn Rovers, where he didn’t do too badly to begin with.
But, his move to West Ham in 2010 ended in heartbreak as he was released shortly after being fined £200,000 for being overweight.
He retired in 2013 after finishing his career in his homeland of South Africa for Orlando Pirates.