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Who are the unlikely names to pick up a Champions League medal?

Winning the Champions League is often the pinnacle of a player’s career and those who are crowned as kings of Europe undoubtably boast some footballing royalty in their ranks. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf and Lionel Messi – the list of huge names to have got their hands on the famous trophy goes on and on. But a glance at some of the stars with a medal in their collection might surprise you.

Utilising your squad is key to winning tournaments, and every member of the victorious side is presented with a gold medal – from the substitute goalkeeper to the young prospect filling out the bench, regardless of whether they feature in the game or not.   

Eight years ago today, Chelsea capped off a historic night by beating Bayern Munich in their own back yard to win their first ever Champions League title, and while there were plenty of heroes – goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and Oriol Romeu both picked up a medal despite failing to come on.  

Sportsmail has had a look back through the years at some other unlikely winners of Europe’s grand prize.

There have been some famous Champions League winners, but other names raise eyebrows

Winston Bogarde, Ajax 1995

Ajax’s European champions in 1995 were littered with talent – Seedorf, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids and Frank Rijkaard – as they overcame Milan 1-0 in Vienna courtesy of substitute Patrick Kluivert’s late strike.

Manager Louis van Gaal only brought on one other sub in Nwankwo Kanu, but defender Bogarde was left on the bench. He did impress in his Ajax career as he featured in 62 league games and managed to secure a move to AC Milan, where he found game time hard to come by. 

Eventually he linked up with van Gaal again at Barcelona and played 19 times as he helped them to a LaLiga title in 1997-98. And in 2000 he signed for Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea, where he struggled to break into the first team. He retired in 2005 following his exit from Stamford Bridge when he failed to find a new team. 

Winston Bogarde holds the 1995 Champions League trophy despite not making it off the bench

Winston Bogarde holds the 1995 Champions League trophy despite not making it off the bench

Paul Lambert, Dortmund 1997

Former Norwich and Aston Villa boss Lambert isn’t associated with the glitz and glamour of the Champions League but he played a starring role in central midfield for the German side as they beat Juventus 3-1 to scoop their first ever title.

Lambert played the full 90 minutes as he overshadowed superstar Zinedine Zidane and helped the unfancied side to a famous triumph in Munich. The Scot had been signed by Dortmund on a free transfer from Motherwell and put in a superb shift defensively as he stifled the threat of Zidane and frustrated the Italian favourites. 

He would only spend one season in Germany before returning to Celtic, where he won eight trophies and later took up management.

Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert (C) played a starring role to help Dortmund win their first ever Champions League title against Juventus in 1997

Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert (C) played a starring role to help Dortmund win their first ever Champions League title against Juventus in 1997

Jonathan Greening and David May, Manchester United 1999

Manchester United’s dramatic stoppage time win over Bayern Munich will forever go down as one of the most memorable Champions League finals. 

Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struck at the death to secure a 2-1 win for the Red Devils to send the team and supporters into delirium. 

Both players were crowned as heroes as the super subs made an impact after coming off the bench, but there were two more obscure names that had been sitting alongside them before their late salvos. 

Former Manchester United defender David May celebrates Man United's success in 1999

Former Manchester United defender David May celebrates Man United’s success in 1999

Jonathan Greening also picked up a medal for Man United, where he featured just 27 times

Jonathan Greening also picked up a medal for Man United, where he featured just 27 times 

Jonathan Greening and David May both picked up winners’ medals in Barcelona despite not playing a minute of the game. 

Defender May spent nine years at United but eventually became surplus to requirements under Sir Alex Ferguson and his last four seasons saw him play just 12 times. He later joined Burnley for one season before ending his career with non-league outfit Bacup Borough.

As for Greening, he became something of a journeyman after leaving United following his European success. The midfielder played just 27 games for the club and eventually starred for Middlesbrough, West Brom, Fulham and Nottingham Forest as he racked up 565 career appearances. 

Roque Santa Cruz, Bayern Munich 2001

Former Blackburn and Manchester City star Santa Cruz was a proven goalscorer on his day but never quite pushed on to become the player he was expected to be. 

He struggled to break through at Bayern during eight seasons – often chipping in with a handful of goals but never lighting the fuse. In the 2001 final against Valencia, which Bayern won on penalties, he wasn’t called upon.

Ex-Blackburn star Roque Santa Cruz, (C), won the 2001 Champions League as an unused sub

Ex-Blackburn star Roque Santa Cruz, (C), won the 2001 Champions League as an unused sub

Manager Ottmar Hitzfield had four attackers on the bench and opted to bring on three of them – but Santa Cruz was the only one who missed out. Carsten Jancker and Alexander Zickler were both thrown into the action as the German side sought a goal to win it. 

The Paraguayan star, now playing in his home country with Olimpia, moved to Blackburn in 2007 where he hit the mark – scoring 23 times and securing a £17million move to Manchester City. But he played just four games for the Sky Blues as he failed to snatch his big chance.

Djimi Traore and Scott Carson, Liverpool 2005

That famous night in Istanbul almost never was. Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down to AC Milan at half time as Djimi Traore started in the defence that was being cut apart, and it took a second half miracle to take the tie to penalties. 

To his credit he pushed on in the second half and provided a crucial clearance to stop Andriy Shevchenko scoring a keeping Liverpool alive. Traore had been a sporadic starter for the Reds over the years but was given the nod for the final in a season where he had played 42 games. 

Djimi Traore was a sporadic starter for Liverpool but was given the nod to play in their famous 2005 Champions League comeback win against AC Milan

Djimi Traore was a sporadic starter for Liverpool but was given the nod to play in their famous 2005 Champions League comeback win against AC Milan

Scott Carson did not feature in the game as the second choice keeper to Jerzy Dudek

Scott Carson did not feature in the game as the second choice keeper to Jerzy Dudek

Traore, who had his doubters among Liverpool fans after scoring a comical backheeled own goal against Burnley in the FA Cup, also picked up a League Cup and FA Cup winners’ medal, despite not coming off the bench in either game.

He later played for Charlton and Portsmouth before ending his career with Seattle Sounders in the MLS.  

Scott Carson, currently with Manchester City, also collected a medal as Liverpool’s second choice goalkeeper. He could only watch on as Jerzy Dudek’s heroics won the shooutout.  

Tomasz Kuszczak, Manchester United 2008

Like Carson at Liverpool, Kuszczak was the unlucky name who often warmed the bench with Edwin van der Sar the undisputed number one in between the sticks at Old Trafford. 

There was no chance of dethroning him in the 2008 final against Chelsea, and he too watched on as the Dutchman palmed away Nicholas Anelka’s spot kick to win the trophy in Moscow.

Kuszczak won a total of ten trophies for the Red Devils despite only playing 61 times, but he did start the 2010 League Cup final as Sir Alex Ferguson gave him recognition for his loyalty to the team after spending five years in Manchester.  

Tomasz Kuszczak (L) enjoyed a share of the spoils with Edwin van der Sar (R) after United beat Chelsea in the 2008 final

Tomasz Kuszczak (L) enjoyed a share of the spoils with Edwin van der Sar (R) after United beat Chelsea in the 2008 final 

Ibrahim Afellay (2011) and Bojan (2009, 2011), Barcelona

Two bright prospects for Barcelona who both ended up at Stoke City. The pair had been tipped for super stardom and each got a taste of it when they made it onto the bench for Barcelona’s Champions League win in 2011. 

Bojan, who came through the club’s La Masia academy, had already received his first medal in 2009 after being named as an unused substitute in the 2-0 win over Manchester United. 

His second prize also came against the Red Devils as Dutch star Afellay joined him on the bench for Barca’s 3-1 success against them at Wembley two years later.

As a promising star, Bojan was part of the Barca team that overcame United in the 2009 final

As a promising star, Bojan was part of the Barca team that overcame United in the 2009 final

Ibrahim Afellay (C) lifts the trophy after he and Bojan, middle right, failed to come off the bench against the Red Devils in 2011

Ibrahim Afellay (C) lifts the trophy after he and Bojan, middle right, failed to come off the bench against the Red Devils in 2011

With neither player quite cutting it, Bojan was sold to Stoke in 2014 and showed hints of the brilliance he promised as he scored 16 times in 85 games. 

Afellay joined the year after Bojan and stayed with the Potters for four seasons before soon falling out of favour.

Ross Turnbull and Oriol Romeu, Chelsea 2012

Turnbull continues the theme of second-choice goalkeepers with a Champions League medal, but is probably one of the more obscure shot stoppers on the list having barely featured for Chelsea in his four seasons at Stamford Bridge. 

The Chelsea team that beat Bayern Munich on their home turf was depleted and missing a number of their big names, with Roberto Di Matteo giving a chance to Ryan Bertrand at left wing. The Southampton star raised eyebrows with his inclusion but performed well as the Blues took Bayern to extra time. 

Winning the 2012 Champions League will rank as Ross Turnbull's greatest career achievement

Oriol Romeu won his Champions League medal before being sold to Southampton

Keeper Ross Turnbull, left, picked up a winners medal in 2012 along with Oriol Romeu, right, 

But as Didier Drogba did the business on the pitch, Turnbull – brought in from Middlesbrough as cover for Petr Cech, collected his medal that now stands as an anomaly having spent most of his career in the Football League. Now retired, his last club was Leeds United, where he failed to play a single game. 

Also failing to make it off the bench during that game was Oriol Romeu. The Spanish midfielder joined Chelsea from Barcelona in 2011 but only played 33 times and was sent out on loan twice before being shifted to Southampton.

Caoimhin Kelleher and Rhian Brewster, Liverpool 2019

Irish goalkeeper Kelleher was just 20 as he watched Liverpool clinch glory against Tottenham in Madrid but stood no chance of making an introduction. Even if Allisson were to come off injured, Klopp had the more experienced Simon Mignolet as second choice. 

But it should prove to be an incredible learning curve for the youngster, who has come through the ranks at the club – and also picked up a medal after sitting on the bench against Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup last year. 

Despite never playing for Liverpool, Caoimhin Kelleher is a Champions League winner

Despite never playing for Liverpool, Caoimhin Kelleher is a Champions League winner

Rhian Brewster poses with the Champions League trophy during wild celebrations in 2019

Rhian Brewster poses with the Champions League trophy during wild celebrations in 2019

Another youngster on the bench was the star of England’s U17 World Cup winning side Brewster. The 20-year-old, who was the top scorer at that tournament for the young Three Lions, has never made a senior appearance for the Reds but has been tipped as one for the future.

He certainly appeared to enjoy soaking up the success on the night as he paraded on the pitch with his teammates and posed proudly next to the trophy. Later that summer he was seen wearing his Champions League medal while getting a haircut at the barbers.  

Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea 2012 and Liverpool 2019

England international played on the winning team in both finals for Chelsea and Liverpool – but never played a second. 

He shared a place on the bench with Turnbull and Romeu against Bayern in 2012 as Di Matteo made just two substitutes despite playing extra time and penalties. He went with Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres and Sturridge was not called upon with Chelsea instead looking to play defensively. But the Italian boss also declined to bring him on for the shootout. 

Daniel Sturridge was an unused substitute in Chelsea's famous win over Bayern in 2012

Daniel Sturridge was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s famous win over Bayern in 2012

And he scooped his second medal against Spurs in 2019 despite failing to feature once again

And he scooped his second medal against Spurs in 2019 despite failing to feature once again

Seven years later Sturridge would become European champion once again in his final act as a Liverpool player. 

While he was never much of a success at Chelsea, he had shown a glimpse of his ability at Anfield by scoring 67 times in 160 games, with injuries blighting his progress.

In Liverpool’s 2019 final in Madrid, Klopp made three subs, two of which were defenders as he tried to guard their 1-0 lead, before he opted to throw on Belgian striker Divok Origi – who would end up repaying the managers faith by making it 2-0 to wrap up the trophy. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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