The Champions League final isn’t always won by the most talented team in Europe in any given season, but that doesn’t always mean every single player in the winning squad is one of the greats.
Some of those to lift the trophy, while still a few rungs above Sunday League standard, are not what you’d call Champions League level – at least not on the level where you’d expect them to win the whole thing.
We’ve picked out seven of the best (well, worst) here, while making an executive decision to leave out reserve goalkeepers.
It’s not that the likes of Oier, Ross Turnbull and Tom Starke aren’t underwhelming names, but we just didn’t want the list to be goalkeeper-heavy.
So, without further ado, here are our lucky seven…
Victor Wanyama’s brother became the first Kenyan to earn a Champions League winner’s medal when he was an unused sub for Jose Mourinho’s Inter in 2010.
The midfielder played three times in the knockout stages that year, each time as a substitute, and was on the pitch as Barcelona’s late semi-final goal was disallowed by referee Frank de Bleeckere.
Mariga played a couple more Champions League games under Rafa Benitez the following season, but never added to that tally beyond 2010 and retired in 2018 aged 31.
When Bosingwa won his first Champions League title with Porto in 2004, he was still a young prospect with plenty of time to see if he’d justify his potential.
When he made it two, playing the full 120 minutes for Chelsea against Bayern, he’d shown us exactly how high his ceiling was.
The Portugal international only started the game due to a number of Blues players missing out through injury and suspension, and his performances the following year at QPR gave a fairer representation of his defensive level.
Bosingwa had at least tasted more action than Bertrand that season, but the academy product was thrown in as a gamble by Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo.
It was Bertrand’s first ever Champions League appearance, and while he gave a good account of himself in Munich he did not kick on and become a European regular.
Bertrand isn’t the worst player out there, and has been solid enough at Southampton, but he deserves his spot here.
Arbeloa had been a good defender earlier in his career, but by the time he sat on the bench for Real Madrid against Atletico in 2014 he was very much on the wane.
The Spaniard was still at the Bernabeu when they beat the same opponents in 2016, but his only European action that season came against Malmo in the group stages and he didn’t even make the matchday 18 for the final in Milan.
A few months after that, he had taken a comically bad West Ham stint as his cue to retire from football altogether, which says it all.
It’s still a little weird to think of Mathieu as a Barcelona player at all, let alone a European champion with the club.
Mathieu, who looks a little like a Hollywood version of Tony Hibbert, came off the bench in the final minute of the 2015 final, shortly before Neymar put the gloss on Barca’s 3-1 victory over Juventus.
He has played just two Champions League knockout games since, the second of which saw him hauled off at half-time with the Catalan club on their way to a 3-0 defeat at Juventus in 2017.
The 2019 final saw Liverpool and Spurs allowed more substitutes than previous finalists, though we thought it would be unfair to include Caoimhin Kelleher or Rhian Brewster after the duo were given opportunities by the extra bench space.
Moreno, though? He definitely counts.
The Spaniard was seen as Liverpool’s weak link on a fair few occasions during Jurgen Klopp’s tenure, and played just five games in the entire 2018-19 campaign, but was handed a non-playing send-off in Madrid before leaving the club over the summer.
Also on the bench that evening was Lovren, who featured a little more frequently earlier in the campaign.
There’s a case for calling the Croatia international the worst player to be involved in a Champions League final and a World Cup final, though he stayed on the sidelines for the Reds’ victory after playing 90 minutes for his country against France the previous summer.
Lovren is still comfortably better than your average footballer, of course, but the error-prone centre-back – at least the 2019 version of him – wouldn’t be most people’s first, second, or even third pick when selecting a line-up capable of Champions League glory.