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

Quick Reads

Six years on from their last Europa League victory, Chelsea are aiming to repeat the trick against Arsenal in Baku.

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 Čech

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

Cesar Azpilicueta

Still at Chelsea, and now back at right-back after the end of the 3-4-3 years. The Spain international will almost certainly captain his team against the Gunners.

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 St Petersburg in January 2017, and the 2018-19 season has seen him crowned as a Russian league champion for the first time – although he was scared by their celebratory flares.

Gary Cahill

Still at Chelsea. Technically.

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 could end up being his last ever game in the 2019 Championship play-off final.

Frank Lampard

Cole’s team-mate in 2013 has become 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.

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 is still around. Obviously.

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 is now available on a free transfer.

The Brazilian is still just 32, so could be worth a punt, but has played just once in the last 18 months after a failed move back to former club Benfica.

Juan Mata

Mata, who set up Ivanović’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 five years on, 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.

Still just 27, the 2014 World Cup veteran is now in his third 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 is one of several Spaniards in the J1-League, along with club team-mate Isaac Cuenca and former international colleague Andrés Iniesta.

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 Ivanović 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 sticking 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 was unable to help Boro seal a play-off place during his short spell in the north-east and is now looking for a new club at the age of 32.

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.

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.

After two seasons in Greece, Marin joined Red Star Belgrade ahead of their Champions League group stage campaign this season. He played in five of the Serbian club’s six group games, including the surprise victory over Liverpool, and even scored in a defeat away to PSG.

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

Victor Moses

If you were to pick one player from the 2012-13 squad to still be on Chelsea’s books 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 won’t play against Arsenal in Baku, having joined Fenerbahçe on loan in January, and his stint with the Turkish side is due to run until the end of the 2019-20 season.


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