Post-Premier League European winners
There are plenty of people out there who'll tell you that the Premier League is the best in the world – but this motley crew might disagree.
Each was cut adrift by some of England’s biggest clubs (and Charlton). Sometimes it was down to timing. Occasionally, club politics played a part. A few of them were just a bit rubbish. In any case, each found a new home and then Champions League success with a different club...
10. Jorge Costa (Charlton)
The defender nicknamed ‘The Tank’ by Porto supporters pitched up at The Valley in 2001 after falling out with manager Octavio Machado in Portugal. Acquired as part of a bizarre season-saving loan double act alongside Chris Bart-Williams – and lining up in a back four that read Young Fish Costa Fortune – he fulfilled his remit by helping Charlton avoid relegation to the second tier.
However, coach Alan Curbishley opted against making his move permanent and Costa returned to Porto that summer, by which time Machado had been succeeded by one Jose Mourinho. Within two years, the centre-back was captaining Porto to Champions League glory.
9. Claudio Pizarro (Chelsea)
Jose Mourinho looked to have pulled off a brilliant piece of business when Pizarro arrived at Stamford Bridge on a free transfer in summer 2007. The Peru international had notched 100 goals in 256 appearances for Bayern Munich and signed for Chelsea after failing to secure a bumper pay rise at the Allianz Arena.
Pizarro’s move didn’t work out, however, and he returned to Germany the following year with Werder Bremen after netting only two league goals for the west Londoners. The forward eventually re-joined Bayern and helped the Bavarians win the 2013 Champions League.
8. Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Arsenal)
Van Bronckhorst was signed to to fill the gap in midfield left by Emmanuel Petit when he arrived at Arsenal in 2001. But midway through his debut campaign, the Dutchman suffered a cruciate ligament injury that ruled him out for nine months.
Edu stepped up in his place and Van Bronckhorst never truly regained his starting spot. He moved to Barcelona in 2003 and was successfully converted into a left-back, the position he played as Barça beat Arsene Wenger’s side in the 2006 Champions League Final.
7. Marco Materazzi (Everton)
Materazzi suffered a serious malfunction in his one and only season in England, racking up three red cards and 11 bookings in just 33 matches in 1998-99. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Italian was soon back on his way to Perugia, the club Everton had signed him from.
There, Materazzi went on to break Daniel Passarella’s record for the most goals by a defender in a single Serie A season (12). That was enough to attract Inter, where his physical approach made him a popular figure with supporters – and a Champions League winner under Jose Mourinho in 2010.
6. Gerard Pique (Manchester United)
The 2007-08 season was supposed to be the one in which the 20-year-old Pique completed his transition from youth prospect to Manchester United regular. But the defender was soon in the firing line after a lapse of concentration led to Nicolas Anelka scoring the only goal in a loss to Bolton.
Pique dropped out of contention once more and, citing homesickness, submitted a transfer request at the campaign’s end. He returned to Barcelona and has since won the Champions League on three occasions – two of which came with triumphs over United in the tournament showpiece.
5. Jerome Boateng (Manchester City)
A combination of bad fortune and poor management put paid to Boateng’s Manchester City career. Signed after the 2010 World Cup, the German had to wait more than a month to make his debut after aggravating an injury following a collision with an aeroplane drinks trolley.
When the German was finally fit, Robert Mancini insisted on playing him at full-back rather than in central defence. Boateng was omitted from City's squad for the 2011 FA Cup Final, then departed for Bayern Munich that summer – where he went on to lift the Champions League with victory over Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
4. Sylvinho (Arsenal)
Arsenal beat off stiff competition from neighbours and rivals Tottenham to sign Sylvinho, who was earmarked as the long-term successor to left-back Nigel Winterburn. The first Brazilian to represent the Gunners enjoyed a fine first year at the club, but a combination of injuries, passport issues and the emergence of Ashley Cole ended his Arsenal career.
He was sold to Celta Vigo in 2001 and then joined Barcelona three years later; in 2009, he started the Champions League Final as Barça completed their Treble under Pep Guardiola.
3. Gary Cahill (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa fans must rue the day they allowed Cahill to join Bolton in 2008 – particularly as boss Martin O’Neill had just spent almost double that to make loanee Curtis Davies’ move permanent.
In four years with Wanderers, Cahill did enough to earn an England call-up and, eventually, a move to Chelsea. The defender went on to win both the FA Cup and Champions League in his first season with the Blues, as Roberto Di Matteo’s men overcame Bayern Munich on penalties at the Allianz Arena.
2. Arjen Robben (Chelsea)
Robben spent an increasing amount of time on the treatment table with a variety of minor injuries towards the end of his Chelsea career, so manager Jose Mourinho was happy enough to ship him off to Real Madrid in summer 2007.
The flying Dutchman had the last laugh, though: after two campaigns at the Bernabeu, he joined Bayern Munich and made up for the disappointment of missing a penalty against Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League Final by scoring the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley the following year.
1. Patrik Andersson (Blackburn)
Many Blackburn supporters might have forgotten Andersson was even at Ewood Park a decade before his most famous moment, a stoppage-time goal which won Bayern Munich the Bundesliga title in 2001.
The Swede was among the first foreigners to move to the Premier League in 1992-93, but he played just 12 top-flight matches before joining Borussia Monchengladbach.
Six impressive seasons there earned him his Bayern switch, and Andersson experienced European glory in 2001 by playing all 120 minutes in the Germans’ triumph over Valencia in the Champions League Final.
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