The most illustrious club competition in football grips the footballing public year after year. One would think that only great players could be good enough to win such a tournament; think again. Here are some of the most obscure players to win the European Cup/Champions League.
1. Djimi Traoare – Liverpool
When the question is asked; who is the worst player to win the Champions League? The most common answer given is Djimi Traore. The French defender is known for his lack of ability as a defender. His tall, gangly physique definitely did not inspire confidence into Liverpool fans and his errors are far easier to remember then the fact that he won a Champions League medal in 2005.
Traore played the full 120 minutes at left-back in Liverpool’s penalty shoot-out victory over AC Milan in one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history. While his achievement cannot be taken away from him, people will always look and wonder how such a player managed to win one of the biggest prizes in the game. Here is one of Traore’s highlights;
2. Jonathan Greening – Manchester United
Manchester United fans even struggle to remember that Greening won a Champions League medal in 1999. David May could possibly be better remembered for his more dramatic celebrations as Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the goals in injury time to secure the trophy and the treble for United, making Greening one of the most obscure winners of all time.
Greening was a bit-part player during his short stint at Old Trafford. He featured in a few games for Manchester United in the 1998-99 season but did not actually play one minute of European football. He admitted to feeling like a “fraud” but he still holds one of the most prestigious medals in world football.
3. Ryan Bertrand – Chelsea
Chelsea’s years of heartbreak ended in 2012 when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties in their own backyard to lift the trophy that eluded them for many years. The game will be remembered for Didier Drogba. He scored the equaliser as well as the winning penalty to send Chelsea fans into sheer elation.
The most obscure name on that teamsheet was that of youngster Ryan Bertrand. He had featured for Chelsea at left-back at times that season, and a host of eyebrows were raised when Bertrand was picked to play in midfield in that final.
His obscurity boils down to the fact that he has not really featured for Chelsea since. He spent last season on loan at Aston Villa and has recently moved to Southampton on loan for the coming season.
His age means he may come back and make a name for himself, but for the moment he is very much an obscure Champions League winner.
4. Roque Santa Cruz – Bayern Munich
Santa Cruz is not exactly an unknown player but very few people would know that he has a Champions League medal in his back pocket. This side of the shore, Santa Cruz is predominantly remembered for his exploits at Blackburn Rovers. He excelled at Ewood Park and earned a big money move to big-spending Manchester City.
This move was not a success and his name has slowly filtered out of the limelight. He has had loan spells in La Liga with Real Betis and Malaga. Despite playing in the Champions League with Malaga, he has failed to find his best form.
The Paraguayan was building a big reputation in South America during the late 1990’s and this resulted in a move to European superpowers Bayern Munich. It was here that he won the Champions League in 2001. Not a forgotten player, but definitely a forgotten Champions League winner.
5. Nwankwo Kanu – Ajax
Similar to Santa Cruz, Kanu is by no means a forgotten footballer and is very well remembered. He was a great talent and displayed his quality for many clubs across Europe, most notably Arsenal. It was in Kanu’s early days at Ajax that he was part of a side that won the Champions League.
Kanu won the European Cup with Ajax in 1995. Kanu was part of a star-studded team that included names such as Edwin Van der Sar, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids and the de Boer brothers, Frank and Ronald.
Kanu’s time at Arsenal and Portsmouth are what most people remember best, but he is part of an elite group of players to have lifted the European Cup trophy on more than one occasion. Here is one of his best performances for Arsenal;
Jose Bosingwa – Porto and Chelsea
Bosingwa also gets a honourable mention for being part of the ‘more-than-one’ club. Nobody could possibly think that Bosingwa managed to win the Champions League at both Porto and Chelsea. The right-back was by no means a top-class player and struggled to get a game with QPR following his exit from Chelsea, yet he still managed to secure two Champions League medals.
McDonald Mariga – Inter Milan
Jose Mourinho’s successes can often have one or twon unknown names and the undoubted unknown name of the Inter Milan side of 2011 was McDonald Mariga. The Kenyan was a member of Inter’s final match-day squad but did not feature in the final. He was the first Kenyan to play in the Champions League that season and managed to get a winners medal for himself. He is also the brother of Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: ajax, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, djimi traore, jonathan greening, jose bosingwa, kiki musampa, Liverpool, Manchester United, mcdonald mariga, nwankwo kanu, obscure winners, Porto, roque santa cruz, Ryan Bertrand, uefa champions league