Champions League 'Lucky XI' : The unlikeliest players to win Europe's top prize
With the UEFA Champions League in full swing once again the football world is buzzing with excitement. To win the tournament is the biggest honour there is in club football. In recent times, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Inter Milan have all been worthy winners of the coveted trophy.But these clubs succeed because of having a great team. It is a collective effort of the players, managers as well as the coaching staff. Of course, the players are the ones who finally have to put in the performances in the matches that matter.But there are those who don’t really get too many chances to play either because they aren’t good enough or they haven’t put in the effort to prove themselves. There are also those who simply lucked out and played regular football despite not being very good.Nevertheless, they find themselves with a medal in their award collection after being part of a team who won the Champions League. Here is the all-time luckiest Champions League XI
#1 Scott Carson - Goalkeeper
Carson is very famous for his error during the Croatia vs England. Yes the same guy who made the wonder blunder has a champions league medal while playing for Liverpool. But he didn't actually play due to the fact that he was second choice to Jerzy Dudek.
The Liverpool squad of 2005 on paper was probably one of the weaker teams to feature in a Champions League final withMilan running them ragged in the first half. It was thanks to the heroics of Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Carragher the Reds managed to win the game.
Carson was not part of playing XI and for good reason with Dudek being first choice. But the Englishman still walked away with a winners medal around his neck.
#2 Oleguer - Left back
Oleguer was more famous for his off-field antics rather than his on-field contributions. The proud Catalan spent six years at Barcelona playing in the left back position. He had a couple of good seasons for the club before the year in which they won the Champions League.
But playing the final against Arsenal in 2006, the most important game for Barcelona in recent years he let his team down. Freddie Ljunberg caused him all sorts of problems on the wing and the Spaniard couldn't contain him whatsoever.
His horror moment came when Arsenal won a corner and Campbell headed them in front on the night. It was the Left-back's poor marking that let him score in the first place. Inevitably he was replaced by Juliano Belletti in the 71st minute and he ironically came on to score the equalizing goal, saving Oleguer's blushes in the process.
#3 Ivan Campo - Centre Back
Ivan Campo is our first centre back on this list. He was an average player who had decent spells at Mallorca and Valencia but everybody knew he wouldn’t be a world class talent. So several eyebrows were raised when he was bought by Real Madrid in 1998.
Not to many’s surprise, he only managed to play 60 times in six years for Real Madrid. That’s an average of 10 games per season! But one of those appearances was in the final against his old club Valencia when he played the full 90 minutes.
He got his chance after an unfortunate thigh injury to club regular Fernando Hierro kept him out of the first team. Real went on to win the game 3-0 in quite comfortable fashion with Kampo not having much to do in the match.
#4 David May -Centre Back
David may is fondly remembered by Manchester United fans not for how he hardly played for them but how he has still managed to collect more medals than the great Alan Shearer. The legendary striker has only one trophy in his career but May who was an unused substitute in the Champions League final has won six.
But there is a reason why everyone remembers Shearer and not many have heard of May. The Englishman was bought as a backup to Jaap Stam and stayed that way for a majority of his career. He almost stayed long enough to be eligible for a testimonial believe it or not but fell short by a year.
May was an unused substitute in the Champions League final as he watched his side win the match against Bayern Munich in that dramatic game at the Camp Nou. May stood out that night for his elaborate celebrations after the win.
#5 Djimi Traore - Right Back
Liverpool fans remember Djimi Traore as one of the biggest travesties that struck their club. Probably one of the worst players in their history Traore decided to show the full extent of his inabilities on the one night they did not want him to, the Champions League final.
Already rated as one of the weakest teams to win the Champions League Traore made sure his contribution stood out. Always looking calamitous and uncertain at Left back Djimi was partly the reason why Liverpool shipped three that day against Milan.
But luckily for the Mali player he played in a team with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso whose heroics helped Liverpool somehow claw back level in the second half. The defender was also famous for doing a Zidane-Esq three-sixty in the box that led to an own goal in an FA Cup tie against Burnley.
Djimi finally scored his first goal in professional football after 18 years into his career with Seattle Sounders.
#6 Sulley Muntari - Central Midfield
In 2007, Inter were struggling with injuries to their key central midfielders with both Viera and Cambiasso out of action. They decided to splash the cash on Sulley Muntari a hot prospect at Portsmouth. There is no question Muntari had ability but he also came with an attitude and a hesitation to put in hard work.
Nevertheless, with Jose Mourinho’s initial target Frank Lampard deciding not to move away from Chelsea he turned to Muntari. The Ghanian made 66 appearances in four-year spell at the club. Of course two of those years he was loaned out to Sunderland and Milan. He finally made the Milan move permanent after leaving in 2012
He had several confrontations with Mourinho over his fitness levels after the latter had made comments about his religious practices.Muntari played the last ten minutes in the final against Munich and won the Champions League with that legendary Inter side. He now plies his trade in the Middle-East with Saudi team Ittihad.
#7 Jonathan Greening - Right Midfield
Jonathan Greening is another of those Englishman to have lucked his way into a spectacular Manchester United team. There were a lot of signs in the beginning, that Greening wouldn’t really make Manchester United’s starting XI.
With the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt in the side Greening had a lot of free time on his hands. In his three-year spell he made only fourteen appearances and never scored.
As a consequence of being part of that popular Manchester United side he managed to win a lot of silverware including a Champions League medal after he was named on the substitute’s bench for the 1999 final.
Without regular game time, Greening moved on to Middlesborough and then West Brom where he finally expressed himself having a decent career in the Premier League. He currently plays for Talceter Albion in the NCEL Premier League.
#8 Jesper Blomquist - Left Midfield
Jesper Blomquist is not a name many English football fans remember. The Swede accepted a move to Old Trafford after it was explicitly clear he was back up to Ryan Giggs. He featured in just about enough Premier League matches earn a medal. He even won the FA Cup without having to play a game in the competition.
But the day finally came when his luck ran out. With injuries to key players Blomquist was thrust into the Champions League final. He had 71 uninspiring minutes and was subbed off replaced by Teddy Sherinham, the man who got United level in the match.
The Red Devils went on to win that game in the end and Blomquist was awarded for his efforts with a Champions League medal which he lost amidst the celebrations. Fortunately, he recovered it before leaving Barcelona. That post-match incident pretty much summed up his time at Old Trafford.
#9 Oriol Romeu - Central Midfield
Romeu was touted as an exciting talent after Chelsea snapped him up from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. But it never quite worked out for the Spanish U-21 International. The midfielder made only 22 appearances between 2011 and 2015 for the Blues.
Two of those years he went on loan to Valencia and Stuttgart but he never really unleashed his potential at those clubs either. The Spaniard also suffered several unfortunate injuries during his Chelsea career which made him miss most of his 2012 season.
Despite this, he still was fortunate enough to win a Champions League title with the London club. He made three appearances during the 2011/12 campaign in the Champions League which qualified him for a winners medal.
Romeu was sold to Southampton in the summer window of 2015. He is currently being used as a squad player and is currently second choice to Wanyama for the Central midfield role.
#10 Djibril Cisse - Striker
Djibril Cisse was another player who was part of the Liverpool side that beat Milan in that 2005 final. In his three-year spell with the Reds he played 49 games scoring on 13 times. Cisse's hot temper would sometimes get the better of him which turned out to be a liability throughout his career.
Cisse suffered a horrific injury in his very first season for the club due to which he missed a majority of the 2004-05 season. Despite that he managed to recover and play for Liverpool in the Champions League. But his contribution was negligible scoring only once in nine appearances.
After his lengthy layoff, Cisse made a comeback in Europe as a substitute against Juventus in April 2005. After that most of his appearances primarily came from the bench but because he played in the tournament he still earned a Champions League winners medal. He now plays for JS Saint-Pierroise in the lower leagues of French football, probably the first eve Champions League winner to play for them
#11 Carsten Jancker - Striker
Jancker was the tall and big striker that Bayern Munich wanted but not the one they got. The German was surprisingly not very good in the air but still became somewhat of a cult figure at Bayern.
Jancker played in two Champions League finals, both in 1999 and in 2001. Bayern Munich lost that famous final to Manchester United in 1999 to late goals. Jancker couldn’t score that day as United made the great escape to lift the trophy.
But two years in 2001 Munich reached the final once again. Jancker was only a substitute for the start of the game but did make an impact after coming on. He helped the team win the penalty which Munich scored to take the game to extra time
The Germans went on to lift the coveted trophy and Jancker was lucky enough to have his name associated with the achievement ending that season without a single goal
Daniel Sturridge(ST): Part of the Chelsea squad that won the Champions League in 2012. He was incredibly on the subs bench that game. He now spends most his time on the treatment table.
Jose Bosingwa(RB): Another player from that Chelsea squad who always looked like a liability. He was good going forward but horrible when it came to tracking back.
Ross Turnbull(GK): Ross Turnbull is our substitute goalkeeper simply because he was also the substitute at Chelsea’s Champions League final and thus won a medal. It’s pretty certain he won’ t win another one ever again in his career
Anderson(MF): Never really fulfilled his potential as a United player. Was lucky enough to walk away with the trophy in 2008 when he was part of the subs bench against Chelsea
Roque Junior(DF): Won the Champion League with Milan in 2003. Was an awful defender in truth and had several poor spells with clubs like Leeds and Siena
Mcdonald Mariga(MF): Played under Jose Mourinho for Inter and won the Champion League in 2010. He made only 21 appearances in four years for the club which just tells you his story.