It was only 10 years ago this year, but so much has happened to the Saints since that May day in Cardiff where they lost in their first final appearance since beating Manchester United back in 1976. Gordon Strachan’s men lost 1-0, just about deservedly, to the last good Arsenal team.
In the intervening years Southampton went through a raft of managers, dropped two divisions, won the Football League Trophy and have just come back to the top flight again. But what happened to the players that took Southampton to that final and to a UEFA Cup spot in that season’s Premier League?
GK: Antti Niemi
Has every right to go down as one of the Saints best ever ‘keepers. When the club went down in 2005, he stuck around until January till he joined Fulham in top-flight division. He became their first choice until injury (and Kasey Keller) forced him to retire in 2008. He made a brief comeback with Portsmouth but in the eight months, he failed to make an appearance and took £500k in pay. Indicative of why Pompey are where they are now. Now Finland’s goalkeeping coach.
RB: Chris Baird
At the time he was a young, exciting prospect out of Southampton’s ever impressive academy, his first start for the club coming the week before the final. He stayed with the club, despite relegation, until 2007 (in 06/07 he was the club’s player of the year) but financial problems with Southampton led to a bid of £3m from Fulham being accepted. Baird has been an important part of their squad ever since.
CB: Claus Lundekvam
Part of a centre-back pairing that was surprisingly formidable. ‘Our Claus, In The Middle of Defence’ stayed with the club until 2008 when continual injuries forced him to retire. Later, he admitted he had drug and drinking problems and accused former teammates and opponents of various betting related indiscretions which have been strongly denied.
CB: Michael Svensson
The other part of the centre back pairing, the Swede was an impressive and imposing figure who could have played at a higher level. Injuries, amidst comebacks and false dawns, saw him retire in 2009 although he dabbled in coaching with the club during the ill-fated Mark Wotte reign.
He did manage a comeback with old club Halmstads, who were suffering problems of their own, in 2011 where he managed 25 matches.
LB: Wayne Bridge
More famous now for having John Terry s*** his missus than anything else, Bridge was once upon a time a fantastic left back. Joined Chelsea and won everything at domestic level with the Blues, and challenged Ashley Cole for the left back slot for club and country. Moved to Manchester City, snubbed a handshake, got loaned to West Ham, Sunderland and now Brighton. It seems City can’t shift him because of his high wages and clubs are only prepared to take him on loan.
Now engaged to Frankie Sandford of The Saturdays, so life can’t be that bad.
RM: Paul Telfer
Followed Strachan to Saints from Coventry and then to Celtic. Went on to play for Bournemouth, Leeds, Slough Town and now Sutton United where does a bit of coaching too.
CM: Matt Oakley
Another product of the club’s academy (one of three to start this match,) he had already been a fixture in the team since 1996. A good pro who was the kind of player more noticed when he wasn’t playing. Played for Derby County, Leicester City and now Exeter City.
Also owns a wine company and keeps piranhas.
CM: Anders Svensson
Still going at the top level, Anders represented Sweden as recently as Euro 2012. Following relegation in 2005, he re-joined Elfsborg in Sweden where he still plays now and is club captain. Has amassed 139 caps for his country.
LM: Chris Marsden
Or “Chris Marsden, Football Genius” to give him his full name, seemed to come to life under Strachan and became one of the most important players in the team. Once scored a Maradona-esque goal vs Ipswich Town.
Went to play in South Korea briefly before ending his playing days at Sheffield Wednesday.
ST: Brett Ormerod
A tireless player and one of the hardest working you will ever see play. It was no surprise that James Beattie, Marian Pahars and anyone else partnering him in attack would score more goals with him next to them than anyone else. Ormerod stayed with the club until 2006 although his stay was interspersed with loan spells. He once played for Leeds United on the Saturday, his loan expired and he played for Saints, short of players, on the Sunday. 2006 saw him sign for Preston where he broke his leg in a Championship Playoff match. A loan spell at Nottingham Forest saw him help them move back to the second tier.
In 2009 he went back to Blackpool, the club where he scored the goals that saw him earn the move to Southampton. Ormerod, now in his early thirties, scored the winner against Cardiff City in the 2010 Championship playoff final and took the club into the Premier League.
He has recently signed for Wrexham.
ST: James Beattie
Prolific in his time at Saints, for a couple of seasons only Thierry Henry and Ruud Van Nistelrooy outscored him.
Beattie moved to Everton in January of Saints’ relegation season for around £6m but his time there wasn’t successful and blighted by injuries. He moved to Sheffield United and then Stoke City where he had more impressive and successful spells and found a bit of form again…until a naked Tony Pulis headbutted him in the changing room over a row about a Christmas Party.
He is now player manager at Accrington Stanley.
Manager: Gordon Strachan
His career took a massive dive after resigning from Southampton in 2004. He now suffers in a dual role as Scotland manager and ITV pundit, sitting next to Adrian Chiles too often for anyone’s liking.
GK: Paul Jones
Came on in the final for the injured Niemi, Jones was a solid keeper who went on emergency loan to Liverpool in 2004, playing twice. He went on to play semi regularly for Wolves and QPR before ending his career with Bognor Regis Town.
CB: Paul Williams
Like Telfer, he followed Strachan from Coventry to Southampton. Played for Richmond Kickers briefly in America and is now on Southampton’s coaching staff.
LB: Danny Higginbotham
Joined Stoke in 2006, then Sunderland a year later, then back to Stoke after another year. Now with Sheffield United.
RM: Fabrice Fernandes
A winger tricky to the point of frustration, the Frenchman played for Bolton, Beitar Jerusalem, Dinamo Bucharest and Le Havre before retiring in 2008.
Four years after retiring, he had a trial with Doncaster Rovers which came to nothing.
ST: Jo Tessem
At his first club Molde in Norway, Tessem combined playing with being a policeman. Had spells with Lyn (lucky woman) three times, Millwall, Bournemouth and Eastleigh since his time at Southampton ended.