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McDonald Mariga, Mathieu and the 3 Worst Players to Win the Champions League in Recent History
- Not every Champions League winner is a superstar who dominates the game
- From players who didn't even play a single minute to others who were simply fortunate to be in the right team at the right time
- Sports Brief takes a look at some of the "worst" players to have won Europe's premier club competition
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Erling Haaland have all been prominent figures in claiming the Champions League winner's medals, but there are others who bask in their glory without even getting a chance to touch the ball.
From McDonald Mariga, who became the first Kenyan to win the UCL, to Ross Turnbull, not everyone can secure a vital role and make a significant impact.
Here is a list of the five "worst" players to have won the prestigious club competition who barely lifted a finger as their teammates did the heavy lifting and put in the hard yards.
Ross Turnbull - Chelsea
After joining Chelsea in 2009, Turnbull was well aware of the daunting challenge of vying for the highly sought-after No.1 goalkeeper spot against the formidable Petr Cech.
Unfortunately, he could not emerge victorious from this fierce competition, leading to only 19 appearances across four seasons during his time with the Blues.
Regardless, Turnbull's career reached a satisfying conclusion as he proudly accumulated two FA Cup winners' medals and experienced the glory of a Champions League triumph, earned through Chelsea's unforgettable victory over Bayern Munich at the iconic Allianz Arena in 2012.
Jeremy Mathieu - Barcelona
Jeremy Mathieu's relatively empty trophy cabinet changed when he joined Barcelona in 2014, as he swiftly clinched La Liga and the Champions League in his debut season with the club.
Mathieu, perhaps the least renowned member of a star-studded squad that boasted the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta, simply found himself in the right place at the right time.
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One of his most notable moments came in the 2014-2015 season when he scored a crucial goal against Real Madrid in the El Clásico, helping Barcelona secure a 2-1 victory.
McDonald Mariga - Inter Milan
McDonald Mariga's time with Inter Milan was relatively brief but noteworthy. Although his appearances were limited, Mariga became the first Kenyan player to win the UEFA Champions League when Inter triumphed over Bayern Munich in the final, Daily Star reports.
Despite being part of the Inter Milan squad that completed a treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010, McDonald Mariga did not have the opportunity to play a single minute in the final.
Alberto Moreno - Liverpool
Moreno struggled to demonstrate the level of consistency necessary to secure a regular spot in Liverpool's lineup. Initially displaced by Joe Gomez, his chances further diminished with the arrival of Andy Robertson, ultimately rendering him surplus to the club's requirements.
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Despite being a bit-part player with the Reds, he still managed to get a winner's medal around his neck when Jurgen Klopp's men beat Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 Champions League final. Just three days following the triumph over Spurs, Moreno's association with the club came to an end as he was released on a free transfer.
Kiko Casilla - Real Madrid
Undoubtedly, Kiko Casilla stands out as the most significant beneficiary of his association with the Champions League-winning squad, having lifted the prestigious trophy on three separate occasions during his time with Real Madrid.
Notably, Casilla, predominantly serving as the backup goalkeeper to Keylor Navas, boasts an impressive record of three UCL triumphs.
Surprisingly, he shares the same number of Champions League trophies as esteemed clubs like Manchester United and Inter Milan while surpassing the title count of both Chelsea and Manchester City.
According to Transfermarkt, his presence in between the sticks for Los Blancos during his three-and-half spell at the Bernabeu was reduced to a meagre 43 appearances before heading to Leeds United in 2019. He is currently on the books of the Spanish side Getafe.
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The Greatest XI never to win UCL
Despite the successes of Ross Turnbull and Alberto Moreno, who secured their places in the annals of the competition as winners, there exists a notable group of football legends who were never afforded the chance to raise the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy, Sports Brief reported.
Amongst them, esteemed figures such as Diego Maradona, Ronaldo de Lima, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, regarded as deities in the realm of football, have all missed out on the opportunity to lift the prestigious prize.
Sports Brief takes a look at the greatest footballers who missed out on winning the Champions League, despite their illustrious careers.