The Champions League final takes place on Saturday evening, as Liverpool take on Tottenham. Both clubs have extremely strong first teams and, barring injuries, you will struggle to find a weak link in either side.
That hasn’t been the case in every former final though, with some very surprising players having picked up winners medals. We decided to take a look at five of the worst players to win the Champions League.
Following a number of loan spells at lower league clubs, Bertrand was part of the Chelsea side that overcame Bayern Munich in penalties in the 2011/12 final, becoming the first player in Champions League history to make his European debut in the final.
Bertrand might protest his inclusion on this list, particularly as one of his teammates that day, José Bosingwa, was also under serious consideration for inclusion. However, Bosingwa escaped scrutiny due to him having somehow picked up 15 career trophies, giving him a credibility that his talent didn’t particularly warrant.
Having now forged a successful career as Southampton’s left-back, picking up 19 England caps along the way, Bertrand is a solid if unspectacular Premier League player. However, he should have been nowhere near a Champions League final.
Sir Alex Ferguson had a tendency to pack some fairly average players into his extremely talented squads (see: Bebe, David Bellion, Karel Poborsky, Eric Djemba-Djemba). David May doesn’t quite fall into this category but he certainly wasn’t the typical standard of a Champions League winner.
When Manchester United won the treble in 1999, their Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich was infamous for the impact of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the bench, goals from each of whom won the match in injury time.
However, things could have panned out quite differently if Ferguson had opted to bring on David May instead. The Englishman was another solid type who, in truth, lacked the talent to stand out in a squad that featured the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Jaap Stam.
However, he was still given a medal for United’s triumph and made 85 appearances for the Red Devils in total before being shipped out to Burnley.
The second of three members of that United squad to make this list, though the only one to actually play any football on that fateful evening. The Swedish left-winger started the match before being hauled off for Teddy Sheringham in the 67th minute, who went on to score the equaliser.
Blomqvist’s United career only spanned 38 appearances and all came in that season, before he suffered an injury that kept him out for the remainder of his contract. However, amazingly those 38 appearances were enough for to win a Premier League, an FA Cup and a Champions League.
The Swede was the sort of player who, on his day, could be sensational. Unfortunately those days were few and far between and, after brief spells at Everton and Charlton, he eventually faded into Scandinavian obscurity at Djurgårdens, Enköping and Hammarby. No, we don’t know where they are either.
With United’s treble that year now infamous, it seems apt that we include our own treble in this list. As such, rounding off a trio of hopeless Red Devils is Jonathan Greening.
Not only did Greening fail to play a minute in the final, he didn’t play a minute in the entire competition, later admitting that he felt “a bit of a fraud” when picking up his winners medal. Rightly so.
Greening only played 14 times for United over a three-year period that, bizarrely, merited a contract extension. However, in 2001 he left to begin a tour of the England that took in Middlesbrough, West Brom, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, York City and, lastly, the mighty Tadcaster Albion (twice). I’m willing to bet he’s the only Champions League winner to ever have played for them.
Ah Djimi. There could only be one name fit to round off this list and it had to be to hapless Malian defender who regularly shredded Liverpudlian nerves between 1999 and 2006.
When people talk about the miracle of Istanbul in 2005, everyone assumes they are referring to Liverpool’s sensational comeback from three goals down. However, the real miracle was that things weren’t worse when you consider that Liverpool’s full backs were Djimi Traoré and Steve Finnan whereas AC Milan’s were Paolo Maldini and Cafu.
Traoré simply wasn’t a particularly good player. He was a liability defensively, extremely suspect in possession and not dynamic enough to support the attack. Possibly his most famous moment for Liverpool was an extraordinary own goal against Burnley which, if scored deliberately at the other end, may have been a goal of the month contender.
In fairness to him, he did put in a game-saving challenge to deny Andriy Shevchenko in Istanbul but that isn’t enough to keep him off this list.