10 players you totally forgot ever won the Champions League: Brewster, Turnbull…
Winning the Champions League is arguably the very zenith you can reach in the club game – but you don’t necessarily have to be a world-class player to do it.
Legendary players like Gianluigi Buffon, Ronaldo Nazario and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are among those that never got their hands on the European Cup and it must sting when they think about some of the players that have.
Here are 10 players that you (probably) totally forgot ever won the Champions League.
Having been poached from Chelsea’s academy during a period in which Cobham was regularly churning out world-beaters, there was hope at Liverpool that Brewster could develop into a key player for Jurgen Klopp.
But the forward spent most of his time at Liverpool in the youth set-up and only ever made four appearances totalling 191 minutes for the first team. He was sold to Sheffield United for £23million in 2020 – and three years on that looks a brilliant bit of business.
Brewster never appeared in Europe but still collected a winner’s medal in 2018-19, having been named on the subs bench of their 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Madrid.
Perisic is a strange one. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he won it, given he enjoyed an exceptional career at some of Europe’s top clubs and was a quality winger on his day.
But we bet we’re not alone in struggling to remember the Croatian actually winning it. Wolfsburg, Dortmund, Inter and Spurs never won it while he was there, did they?
It’s all too easy to forget that Perisic spent one of his seven years on Inter’s books out on loan at Bayern Munich, which just so happened to be their treble-winning 2019-20 campaign under Hansi Flick.
Perisic was something of a (quality) fringe squad player for the Bavarians that year, making 17 of his 35 appearances as a substitute. He appeared halfway through the second half of the final as Bayern saw out their 1-0 victory over PSG.
Lockdown football still doesn’t feel real to us.
🏆 2019/20 🏆
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 2, 2023
Something of a punchline at Barcelona during the Luis Enrique era, French defender Mathieu received a lot of stick but won tons of silverware across his three years with the club.
Your mind naturally goes to Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi when it comes to Barca’s 2014-15 treble-winning season, but Mathieu made 41 appearances that debut year and appeared in injury-time as they saw out their victory over Juventus in the Champions League final.
One to be filed alongside Brewster. Turnbull didn’t play a minute of Chelsea’s 2011-12 Champions League campaign but collected a winner’s medal after playing back-up to Blues icon Petr Cech.
“At Chelsea, when we won the Champions League, it was a big team effort,” Turnbull reminisced in a 2021 interview with The Athletic.
“We had so many injuries, including to David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who started. Everyone thinks about those two being fantastic that night, lifting the trophy. Does anyone think about the physios, the medical department, and what they did, how they got them ready for that game? It’s such a collective effort.”
He presumably includes himself in that collective effort. Absolutely fair enough.
Ross Turnbull has more Champions League medals than Tottenham and Arsenal put together.
Just let that sink in. pic.twitter.com/7pVAGydOPj
— Uber Chelsea FC (@UberChelseaFC_) May 19, 2020
The Ghanaian had a weird career, didn’t he? From Portsmouth to Jose Mourinho’s Inter to AC Milan via a loan to forget at Sunderland.
“I had returned from training and I was home and he called my phone and said it’s me Mourinho,” Muntari later reminisced in a wonderfully matter-of-fact way.
“He said how are you? And I replied I am good. He then asked, do you want to play for me? I said yes, and he said okay, I will see you in Milan.”
Muntari struggled for opportunities under Mourinho’s successor Rafael Benitez but he was an important, trusted player under the Portuguese.
He only started two Champions League matches in the famous 2009-10 campaign but was called upon from the bench in the famous victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The Icelandic forward left Chelsea for Barcelona when they were reigning European champions and went on to make regular appearances as they faltered in the latter years of Frank Rijkaard’s reign.
As with Mathieu in 2014-15, Gudjohnsen is just not one of the faces that comes to mind from Barca’s historic 2008-09 treble under Guardiola. But he was part of that squad, albeit having fallen down the pecking order behind Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Messi.
Gudjohnsen’s only minutes in the knockout stages that year were off the bench, replacing Andres Iniesta after the midfielder’s last-gasp tie-winner in injury time at Stamford Bridge.
Alongside Josemi, Antonio Nunez was one of two Spaniards in Rafael Benitez’s 2004-05 Liverpool squad that never received an international cap.
The midfielder only spent one season at Anfield, but it was a good one. He made 27 appearances for Benitez’s Reds that year but was an unused substitute in Istanbul.
Nunez must be one of the most unremarkable players that ever won the Champions League. His career was otherwise as a journeyman at moderately-sized clubs in Spain, and the only other trophy on Nunez’s honours list is the 2010 Cypriot Cup with Apollon Limassol.
Nuno Espirito Santo
More famous as an elder Jedi lookalike who worked wonders at Molineux, it’s lesser-known that Espirito Santo was Mourinho’s reserve ‘keeper when Porto won ol’ Big Ears in 2004.
“When you speak about Jose Mourinho, personally he has an impact on me. Because I was a member of the [Porto] squad in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 at Porto. That will stay forever,” the ex-Wolves boss reminisced of Mourinho’s influence on his career.
“When you have someone that manages, coaches you and you follow, and you believe and you do everything that you can because you believe in that idea in your leader – that stays forever.
“That is the impact Jose Mourinho had on me. I think with every member of that squad he taught us how to win so that will stay forever.”
Leeds United fans will tell you that the hapless defender who showed up at Elland Road in 2003 can’t possibly have been the same bloke that won the World Cup with Brazil and the Champions League with Milan.
It must have been an imposter. That’s the only explanation.
Em 2003, campeões da Liga dos Campeões, pelo Milan. Rivaldo, Serginho, Roque Júnior e Dida.
Foto: arquivo pessoal de Rivaldo.
— Futebol Nostálgico! (@futnostalgico) August 8, 2023
Admittedly you might well know this one, if only because Greening sort of became the go-to answer for this very category.
The midfielder enjoyed a perfectly respectable career with clubs like Middlesbrough and West Brom but it always felt distinctly weird he held a Champions League winners medal.
As solid a punt as you’ll get if ‘members of Manchester United’s 1998-99 treble-winning squad’ was ever a round on Pointless.