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Six worst players to win a Champions League medal over the past decade

FOOTBALL By Mirror | March 2nd 2021
Britain Soccer Football - Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final - The National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff - June 3, 2017, Real Madrid's Marcelo celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final [Reuters / Eddie Keogh Livepic]

It's often said that winning the Champions League is the most prestigious honour for any club player.

Just ask Gianluigi Buffon who is prolonging his legendary career with the sole aim of picking up the famous trophy.

But while the Italian's search for a medal goes on, there is a list of players who managed to snag one without being anywhere near his ridiculous talents.

For every Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there are names etched into European football history, who simply found themselves in the right place at the right time.

Here is a look at six of the worst players to pick up a winners’ medal in the last ten years.

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool)

Football - Liverpool v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - Anfield - 25/10/15 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in action with Southampton's Victor Wanyama [Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic]

The Spaniard arrived on Merseyside with a stellar reputation after winning the Europa League with Sevilla in 2014.

However, Moreno failed to ever show the kind of consistency that would enable him to be a Liverpool regular.

First displaced by Joe Gomez, he would ultimately be deemed surplus to requirements by the arrival of Andy Robertson.

Moreno was an unused sub in the 2019 final against Tottenham, something that will have come as a relief to fans after his poor performance in the Europa League equivalent two years before.

Three days after the win over Spurs, Moreno was released on a free transfer.

Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid)

Casilla remained on the bench as Los Blancos beat Liverpool in the 2018 final.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Group Stage - Group G - Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid - Doosan Arena, Plzen, Czech Republic - November 7, 2018, Real Madrid's Kiko Casilla during the warm-up before the match [REUTERS/David W Cerny]

In three-and-a-half years at the Bernabeu, the keeper made just 25 La Liga appearances, despite uncertainty in the position raised by Iker Casillas’ departure.

He would go on to join Leeds United in January 2019, becoming a regular in the Championship, only to replaced by Illan Meslier following promotion back to the Premier League.

Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid)

With stints at Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, Jese has an impressive CV on paper. But on the field, he has built a much less impressive resume.

Real Madrid's forward Jese Rodriguez (L) celebrates a goal with Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs RC Celta de Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 5, 2016. [AFP / GERARD JULIEN]

Injuries curtailed his time with Real, but he did play a small part in their run to the 2016 title.

Following that, he joined the French champions, where he would make just 18 appearances in four years.

Unsuccessful loan spells at Las Palmas, Stoke City, Real Betis and Sporting followed, with his time in the Premier League particularly poor.

Aged just 28, the Spaniard is now plying his trade in the Spanish second tier, a far cry from where many expected him to be at the start of his career.

Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona)

The utility defender had won just one major jonour in the first 12 years of his professional career.

Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos (L) heads for the ball with FC Barcelona's French defender Jeremy Mathieu (R) during the Spanish Liga Primera Division soccer match played at Camp Nou stadium, in Barcelona, Spain, 22 March 2015. [EPA/ANDREU DALMAU]

That changed after he joined Barcelona in 2014, winning La Liga and the Champions League in his first season.

Mathieu was arguably the least well known member of a squad also including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Unlike some of the others on this list, Mathieu actually tasted action in the final, replacing Neymar as an injury time substitute.

Ross Turnbull (Chelsea)

The fact that Turnbull’s stint at Chelsea is sandwiched by spells at Cardiff City and Doncaster Rovers, makes his stay in Stamford Bridge appear even more strange.

His Champions League success appears even more unusual for a player that failed to hit 200 appearances throughout his playing career.

Signed in 2009, Turnbull warned he would contend with Petr Cech for the No.1 jersey, a fight he would ultimately lose, making just 19 appearances in four seasons.

Regardless, he ended his career with two FA Cup winners’ medals and a Champions League honour after the Blues’ dramatic win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz.

Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona)

The second player who went from Champions League winners to Stoke City outcast, Afellay never lived up to his brilliant potential as a youngster.

After bursting on the scene with PSV, he earned his dream move to the Camp Nou in 2010. And that is pretty much where his promising story ended.

Since that move more than a decade ago, the winger has played just 94 matches. Afellay was a late, late substitue for Pep Guardiola as Barca beat Manchester United at Wembley in 2011.

That was one of 35 apperances for Barca, with loan spells at Schalke and Olympiacos failing to see him return to form.

He then made the move to Stoke in 2015, but ultimately proved he was not cut out for the Premier League and was demoted the Under-23s before he returned to PSV in 2019 for a season, before retiring last month.

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