Where are they now? Chelsea’s 2013 Europa League-winning squad

Quick Reads

Chelsea won the Europa League for a second time in 2019, repeating the achievements of the team from six years previously.

The last-gasp victory over Benfica in 2013 made Chelsea the only club to win the Champions League and Europa League in back-to-back seasons, and a lot has changed since then.

We’ve taken a look at what has become of the 18-man squad picked by Rafa Benitez for that win in Amsterdam.

Petr Cech

The goalkeeper whose heroics in Munich inspired the Champions League victory of 2012 was still between the sticks one year later and lined up against the Blues in Azerbaijan in what was his last game as an Arsenal player. That’s football.

Cesar Azpilicueta

Still at Chelsea, the Spain international captained his team against the Gunners and has since passed 350 appearances for the club.

Branislav Ivanović

‘Branko’ scored the winner against Benfica in second-half stoppage-time and was a valuable player for Chelsea across his nine seasons with the club.

The Serb moved to Zenit Saint Petersburg in January 2017, and in 2018-19 he was crowned a Russian league champion for the first time – although he was scared by their celebratory flares.

Gary Cahill

He was an unused sub in the 2019 final before moving to Crystal Palace after eight years and 290 appearances for the Blues.

Ashley Cole

The England left-back spent just one more season as a Chelsea player after the 2013 final, playing fewer than half of the available league games and leaving for Roma in the summer of 2014.

After a spell in MLS with LA Galaxy, he returned to England with Derby County in January 2019 and played what proved to be his last ever game in the 2019 Championship play-off final.

The 39-year-old then returned to Stamford Bridge as an Under-15 Academy coach.

Frank Lampard

Cole’s team-mate in 2013 became his manager in 2019, taking over from Gary Rowett at Derby and leading them to a top-six finish.

The interim period saw the England midfielder spend time at Manchester City and New York City FC, with both spells ending up being both more and less successful than anticipated, somehow.

Then, in 2019, Lampard got his dream job: Chelsea manager.

David Luiz

The Brazilian played in midfield in the final, and while we’re not saying the use of a centre-back in the middle of the park was the only reason Benitez was unpopular at Chelsea, it didn’t help – even if it did bring that goal against Fulham.

Luiz left for PSG in 2014 but returned two years later and started the win over Arsenal in 2019 before joining the Gunners that summer.

Ramires

The unsung hero of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League run faded a little towards the end of his Blues career, the odd exciting moment aside, and was allowed to leave for China with relatively little fanfare.

Ramres spent two productive seasons with Jiangsu Suning, including a second-place finish in 2016, but was frozen out in 2018 and did not play for over a year until joining Palmeiras back in Brazil.

Juan Mata

Mata, who set up Ivanovic’s winner, only had a few months left as a Chelsea player after the final.

He joined Manchester United in January 2014, arriving via helicopter with an impeccable pocket-square, and somehow is still there today, having outlasted three managers.

Oscar

The third of Chelsea’s Brazilians, who scored a stunning goal earlier that season against Juventus, would end up being the second Blue to move to China.

The 2014 World Cup veteran is now into his fourth season with Shanghai SIPG, having hit double figures for league goals as they won the title in 2018.

There’s still time for him to return to Europe, but he might not be in any great rush after becoming one of the most popular players with the Chinese club.

Fernando Torres

There were suggestions when Benitez arrived that the Spanish coach was brought in as a ‘Torres whisperer’, and the £50million striker enjoyed his best goalscoring season under the man who first brought him to England with Liverpool.

Torres scored 22 goals in all competitions in the 2012-13 season, seven under Roberto di Matteo and 15 under Benitez – including six in nine Europa League games – and he opened the scoring in Amsterdam.

After spells with AC Milan and Atlético Madrid, he moved to Japan in 2018, signing for Sagan Tosu. He scored six goals in 39 appearances across two seasons before hanging up his boots.

Substitutes

Chelsea didn’t make a single substitution in the final, which seems a little strange until you realise Benitez was probably saving them for extra-time only for Ivanovic to strike late on.

Nevertheless, what happened to the seven men named on the bench that evening is pretty interesting.

Ross Turnbull

Turnbull was the back-up to Čech for both of Chelsea’s victorious finals, meaning he left the club with two European trophies despite playing just 19 times in his four years at the club. One of his final appearances in a Chelsea shirt came in the infamous Eden Hazard ball-boy game, while the European final marked the penultimate time he made a matchday squad for the club.

After spells at Doncaster, Barnsley and Leeds, Turnbull retired in 2017 and moved into coaching, joining Matthew Bates at Hartlepool when his former Middlesbrough team-mate took over as manager of the National League club and stook around after Bates was replaced by Craig Hignett.

Paulo Ferreira

Benitez could have given Ferreira a proper send-off by bringing him on for a final European appearance before retirement, and perhaps he would have done just that if Chelsea had been more comfortable. Instead, the Portuguese defender was given a farewell against Everton in the league a few days later, replacing Oscar in the closing stages.

The two-time Champions League winner was already 34 at the time of the final and has since worked on Chelsea’s coaching staff as a technical coach to the club’s huge loan army.

John Obi Mikel

If Oscar (or Ramires) wants any advice on returning to England after a stint in China, Mikel can offer some help.

The midfielder spent a few more years as a Chelsea player before joining Tianjin Teda in early 2017, playing two full seasons in the Chinese Super League before joining Middlesbrough in January 2019.

He joined Trabzonspor ahead of the 2019-20 season, but left the Turkish club in March 2020 after expressing his concerns about the Super Lig continuing amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Nathan Aké

At the other end of the scale, Aké was only just starting out at Chelsea when the game rolled around, having made his debut on Boxing Day 2012, just a few weeks before his 18th birthday.

The Dutchman had played twice in the Europa League, starting against Rubin and coming on as a sub at home to Basel, but was left on the bench for the final and left out for much of the following season by José Mourinho.

Aké ultimately left permanently in 2017, joining Bournemouth for a £20million fee which is looking shrewder by the day.

Yossi Benayoun

The Israeli international midfielder turned 33 a week before the final but still had a few years left in the game.

After helping (well, we say ‘help’) Harry Redknapp’s QPR earn (well, we say ‘earn’) promotion from the Championship, he returned to Israel and played for four (!) different clubs in his homeland.

Benayoun eventually hung up his boots in April, following a second spell with Beitar Jerusalem, and is now the club’s ‘professional manager’ (effectively a director of football).

READ: Yossi Benayoun: The featherweight footballer who packed a punch

Marko Marin

Big things were expected of Marin after he was signed under Roberto di Matteo’s watch, but he had struggled to make an impact even before the Italian was dismissed.

The German started just five times for Chelsea, though one of those came in a Europa League win at Sparta Prague, and spent the following three seasons out on loan before eventually securing a permanent move to Olympiakos in 2016.

Marin joined Red Star Belgrade in 2018 and is now playing for Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli.

Victor Moses

If you were to guess which players from the 2012-13 squad would still be on Chelsea’s books by the time of the next final in May 2019, Moses probably wouldn’t be top of your list.

Indeed, the Nigeria international would spend the next three seasons out on loan, with Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham respectively, before returning and becoming an integral part of Antonio Conte’s wing-back set-up.

Moses didn’t play against Arsenal in Baku, however, having joined Fenerbahçe on loan in January, and in 2020 he headed out on loan again to join Conte’s Inter.


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