Champions League: An 'all-star' XI of the worst players ever to win the title

Andrew Headspeath
90Min

Winning the Champions League is obviously great, right? There's really no higher accolade in club football than Europe's premier cup competition.

However, winning the tournament doesn't necessarily define a player's worth. Gigi Buffon has never got his gloves around the big-eared trophy, nor have Dennis Bergkamp, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Michael Ballack or the original Ronaldo.

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-BARCELONA-FINAL


 

Those and countless others must look on greener than a freshly-mown pitch in August with envy at the host of players less deserving than themselves to gloat with medals pride of place in their cabinets.

While every winner deserves their success on some level, some are less deserving than others. 

Which begs the question: who are the actual, objectively worst players to ever lift the trophy, since its 1993 rebrand?

Here's an 'all-star' XI of men who can count themselves very lucky to have been involved with the right team at the right time...


Goalkeeper: Cesar Sanchez (Real Madrid - 2002)


FUSSBALL: TURNIER/100 JAHRE REAL MADRID, REAL MADRID

 

A slightly harsh inclusion maybe, but as capable a keeper as Cesar was, he was only ever an understudy to Iker Casillas, making just 20 appearances for Real Madrid in five years.

Despite getting a rare moment to shine in the 2002 Champions League run, Cesar went off injured in the second half of the final and was replaced by the boy wonder Casillas.


Left Back: Djimi Traore (Liverpool - 2005)


Liverpool's French defender Djimi Traore

Has to be really, I suppose.

However, laugh and sneer all you want at the poster boy for unworthy winners, but the sentence 'Djimi Traore won the Champions League' will never not be true. And he won the FA Cup. And he scored this goal.

And, as the Wernham Hogg's most famous regional manager once said: that's the real quiz.


Right Back: Oleguer (Barcelona - 2006)


(FILES) Barcelona's Spanish defender Ole...

More known for his politics than his playing ability, Oleguer is the 'pointless answer' when trying to name the Barcelona Champions League winning team of 2006, that included the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Carles Puyol.

The fervent Catalan nationalist struggled to contain Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry in the final against Arsenal and was eventually subbed for the match-winning goalscorer Juliano Belletti.


Centre Back: Roque Junior (AC Milan - 2003)


Jose Roque Junior scores the first goal

Incredibly Roque Junior is one of precious few to have won both the Champions League and World Cup, and even fewer to have taken home both in consecutive years.

The Brazilian was a second half sub as AC Milan beat Juventus in 2003, replacing the legendary Alessandro Costacurta, but is 'best' remembered in England for his error-riddled loan spell with Leeds United the following season, when he was sent off on his home debut.



Centre Back: 

Stefano Nava (AC Milan - 1994)

Parma FC Old Glories Charity Match

Be honest. You've never heard of him, have you?

Stefano Nava was largely an unused and unnoticed back up to possibly the greatest back four in the history of football. 

The names Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Mauro Tassotti rarely changed as Milan dominated the early 1990s, and Nava only made a handful of appearances for his hometown side in two spells totalling four years.


He got a token few minutes on the pitch at the end as the legendary side dismantled Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 final.


Centre Midfield: Anderson (Man Utd - 2008)


Manchester United v Celtic - UEFA Champions League

Once described by Wes Brown as the least intelligent teammate he's ever had. 

In fairness to Anderson, he was only brought on right at the death of extra time in order to take a penalty in the all-English final against Chelsea - which he scored.

The Brazilian's career looks solid as a Wikipedia entry - four Premier Leagues, two Primeira Ligas and a Champions League - but in actuality, he was fairly rubbish.

The Golden Boy award winner never lived up to his billing and (still only 28) is now on loan at Coritiba. 


Centre Midfield: Jaime Sánchez Fernández (Real Madrid - 1998)


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Something of a journeyman, Jaime made 45 first team appearances for Real in the pre-Galacticos era, before embarking on a career of bit-part roles as a bang average defensive midfielder for hire at places like Tenerife, Albacete and Racing Ferrol. 

Replaced Fernando Morientes for the final ten, as Los Blancos closed out a 1-0 win over Juventus.

 

Attacking Midfield: Harry Kewell (Liverpool - 2005)


UEFA Champions League Final - AC Milan v Liverpool

Harry Kewell came to Liverpool as something of a steal for £5m in 2003, following a blistering few seasons at Leeds. 

However, injuries including (the presumably as painful as it is amusing-sounding) Gilmore's Groin seemed to ravage the man and he never really won over the Anfield crowd.

Kewell was a controversial starting pick for the final, but lasted just 23 minutes before a torn muscle forced him off. 

 

Attacking Midfield: Jesper Blomqvist (Man Utd - 1999)


Man U v Socceroos

Jesper Blomqvist has the look a forgotten Lannister brother from Game of Thrones, and is one of the least remembered names from Man Utd's 1999 treble winning side.


The unspectacular Swede was a peripheral presence at Old Trafford but benefitted immensely from the suspensions of midfield duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes for the final, where his key contribution was making way for Teddy Sheringham who got the equaliser.


Attacking Midfield: Carlos Alberto (Porto - 2004)


Fussball: CL 03/04 Finale, FC Porto-AS Monaco

Even before the days of Andriy Shevchenko at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was partial to duff forwards.

Rated as one for the future, Carlos Alberto rarely troubled the scoresheets during a year at Porto, as a teenager, before heading home to Brazil and embarking on a whistle-stop tour of the country picking up more clubs than goals along the way.

While attitude problems ruined any hope of career greatness, Alberto did score the opener in the 3-0 victory over AS Monaco way back when Mourinho was still the coolest cat around.


Striker: Michele Padovano (Juventus - 1996)


Michele Padovano


Michele Padovano's two-year spell at Juventus in a nomadic career happily overlapped with the 1996 Champions League victory over Ajax.


The injury-prone clogger of a forward also turned out for Crystal Palace, where he scored just one goal for the Eagles. Even Marouane Chamakh did better than that at Selhurst Park.


He was sentenced to eight years behind bars for hashish trafficking in 2011.

Note:

1) This is just a bit of fun chill out already.

2) Somewhat arbitrarily, I have decreed that all included must have played at least a minute in the final, to weed out the Jonathan Greening from the chaff.

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