Where Are They Now: FC Barcelona’s Champions League Winners XI 2006

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It’s ten years ago this year since Arsenal went on their magnificent run in the Champions League that saw them take on, and beat some of Europe’s elite before eventually being undone by a great Barcelona side in the Paris showpiece. Despite the bitter disappointment that ended the journey, the run still created some of the most special moments in the club’s  history. Who can forget Henry silencing the Bernabeu, downing Juventus at Highbury and Lehmann’s last minute penalty save versus Villarreal. I was only a kid at the time and these go down as some of my best memories of football growing up and much was expected of this young Gunners squad to go and achieve great things. However, notoriously, this did not happen and the club suffered several trophy barren years up until the FA Cup final in 2014.

Of course the victors on that night in Paris, Barcelona, had a much more successful time in the years to follow. The Pep Guardiola era brought huge success, dominating both domestic and European football and in a way triggering Spain’s success at international level. Although some greats of the modern era took to the field  on that night in Paris, it is interesting to look where they all finished up ten years on. Below, we have looked at the Barcelona XI that triumphed that night, seeing how the players continued on and also looking at how they finished up their careers.

Barcelona XI

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GK Victor Valdes

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Age: 34

Appearances for Barcelona: 535

Current club: Standard Liege

Valdes was well established as first choice at Barcelona by 2006 having broken into the side aged 20. He had a very successful career at the club making 535 first team appearances, picking up 21 major honours in that time. In 2014 he looked for a career change abroad and exited for Manchester United later that year. This however did not go to plan for the Spaniard and made only two appearances for Louis van Gaal’s side before joing Standard Liege in January 2016.

RB Oleguer

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Age: 36

Appearances for Barcelona: 167

Current club: Retired

Having progressed up through the Barcelona B side Oleguer was comfortable in the centre of defence or at right back. On the night of the Champions League final he had a torrid time marking Freddie Ljungberg before being substituted after 71 minutes. Known for his pro-Catalonia views, he never was capped for Spain, such were the strength of his views. He was often seen attending and supporting independence for Catalonia rallies during his time with Barcelona. The arrival of Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram in 2006 saw his first team opportunities diminish.  He retired aged 31 in 2011 after an unsuccessful stint with Dutch giants Ajax.

CB Rafael Marquez

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Age: 37

Appearances for Barcelona: 240

Current club: Atlas

A great footballing centre back, Marquez probably unfairly did not receive the same acclaim as some of the others in the Barcelona team of the previous decade. A 129 cap Mexican international, Marquez played a major role in both the 2006 and 2009 Champions League triumph. Always a dependable and solid player he went onto have spells in the MLS, Italy and his native Mexico where he now plays for Atlas. He also is one of few players to have scored at four consecutive World Cups, having netted at the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 edition of football’s biggest tournament.

CB Carles Puyol

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Age: 37

Appearances for Barcelona: 593

Current club: Retired

No words can capture how great this man was for Barcelona and Spanish football in general. An iconic leader on the pitch and a gentleman off it. He gave it his all while in the blue and red of his beloved side. Having worked his way through the youth academy he became a regular in the Barca team for 12 years, captaining his side to every possible honour in club football. He was also a vital part of the victorious Spain teams at Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 before injury forced him into retirement in 2014. He continues to be involved with the club having been appointed the assistant of Barcelona’s director of football for a short while.

LB Giovanni van Bronckhorst

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Age: 41

Appearances for Barcelona: 153

Current club: Retired

Giovanni van Bronckhorst or simply “Gio” originally played for the Gunners between 2001 and 2004 following a  move from Glasgow Rangers. He joined Barca from Arsenal on loan in 2003, before making the move permanent the following summer. He was the only player to play in all of the Champions League fixture in 2005/06, having made the left-back slot his own. He returned to boyhood club Feyenoord in 2007 and retired in 2010, after captaining the Netherlands to the World Cup final only to fall short to Spain. Since hanging up his boots Gio has taken to management. First as assistant manager for the Dutch under 21s, subsequently as Feyenoord assistant, before becoming manager of the Rotterdam side in 2015.

CM Mark van Bommel

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Age: 38

Appearances for Barcelona: 36

Current club: Retired

After many successful years in his native Holland with Fortuna Sittard and PSV, van Bommel made the move abroad in 2005 to join Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona. Although van Bommel only spent a year in Spain, it turned out to be hugely successful with a league title and European crown. He made nine appearances in Europe that season playing an important role in the club’s success. He joined Bayern Munich in 2006 before signing for Milan in 2011 before retiring at PSV in 2013. Like van Bronckhorst he was pivotal in Holland’s run to the World Cup final and became known for his bone crunching tackles.

CDM Edmilson

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Age: 39

Appearances for Barcelona: 71

Current club: Retired

After signing from Lyon for €10 million in 2004, Brazilian Edmilson never really got going at Barcelona. After injury hampered his early seasons at the club, his performances improved during the 2005/06 campaign and he featured in nine of Champions League matches en route to glory. The final did not go to plan however, and he was substituted at half time in favour of Andres Iniesta.  After being released by Barcelona in 2008, his career then petered out following unsuccessful spells at Villarreal and Real Zaragoza among others.

CM Deco

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Age: 38

Appearances for Barcelona: 161

Current club: Retired

After making his name during Porto’s European conquest in 2004, Brazilian born Deco became a key figure for Barcelona after signing for the Spanish giants ahead of the 2004/05 season.  After a blistering first season netting ten goals, Deco was named Barcelona Player of the Season following his performances during 2005/06. He played in eleven of the continental games acting as a midfield focal point linking defence to attack. He left Barca in 2008 in favour of a move to Chelsea. After a couple of years in London he signed for Fluminense where he retired on his 36th birthday in 2013. He was also a huge star internationally winning 75 caps during a golden era for Portuguese football.

RW Ludovic Giuly

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Age: 39

Appearances for Barcelona: 124

Current club: Monts d’Or Azergues Foot

Frenchman Giuly was signed in 2004 after starring in Monaco’s run to the Champions League final in the previous season. Although a player of fantastic ability he failed to earn the limelight like others, winning only 17 French caps reflecting this. He played a key role in Barca’s 2006 success, scoring the only goal in the semi final victory over Milan, before playing the whole 90 minutes of the final in Paris. Giuly actually netted in the final but the goal was chalked off following a foul by Jens Lehmann resulting in the German’s dismissal. Giuly lost his place in the Barcelona side in 2006/07 as a certain Lionel Messi started to gain headlines. He joined Roma in 2007 before a return to Ligue 1 where he retired in 2013 following a spell at Lorient. He has since rejoined boyhood club Monts d’Or Azergues Foot alongside former France teammate Sidney Govou. The 5,000 home stadium of the club is proudly named Stade Ludovic Giuly after his incredible success.

LW Ronaldinho 

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Age: 35

Appearances for Barcelona: 204

Current club: Unattached

Probably the most famous face in the Barcelona team, in 2006 Brazilian Ronaldinho was the best player on the planet as he won back-to-back Ballon D’Or awards. He played a pivotal role in the Spanish side’s triumph. He was named on the left hand side of an attacking three but as the game progressed he drifted more centrally controlling Barca’s attack. With Arsenal down to 10 men he was afforded more space and was central to breaking down Arsenal’s resilient defence. That was about as it got for the lovable Ronaldinho as he moved to Milan in 2008 and his career has declined since. After a nomadic time in his native Brazil he is currently 35 and without a club. We still love you Ronny!

FC Samuel Eto’o

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Age: 34

Appearances for Barcelona: 201

Current club: Antalyaspor

An exceptional player at Barcelona, a clinical finisher netting 129 goals in 201 games during his time at Camp Nou. He was particularly pivotal to the triumph in 2006 scoring six goals and assisting four others in the Champions League that season. He also played a significant role in the final as he was responsible for the sending off of Jens Lehmann and also scoring Barcelona’s equaliser giving the platform to go on and win the game. Since then the Cameroonian has achieved great success winning the Champions League twice more before he began a nomadic spell across various European leagues that saw spells at Anzhi, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria and Antalyaspor all in the space of three years. Blimey!


By Peter Muldoon, TFN Founder/Editor on 22/02/2016 at 12:09

 

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