Football News

What happened next? The Atletico Madrid side who won the ‘first’ Europa League final in 2010

By Harry Edwards

Published: 20:00, 25 April 2021

In 2009 the UEFA Cup underwent a change before re-emerging with a new identity; the Europa League.

The new format made Europe’s secondary cup competition more of a slog, bringing in the teams that would have been in the Intertoto Cup alongside the usual suspects. Eight groups consisting of five teams turned into 12 of four, and only two teams from each group reached the knockout stages, rather than the previous three.

Fans in England may remember the debut Europa League season for Fulham’s run to the final, which saw them dramatically knock Juventus out. But Roy Hodgson’s men would see their fairytale ended in devastating fashion, losing to Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the final after extra time.

Atletico had entered the Europa League in the knockout stages, after finishing third in their Champions League group, led by Quique Sanchez Flores and boasting some of Europe’s brightest stars.

Diego Forlan gave Atletico the lead just after half an hour though Fulham equalised moments later through Simon Davies. However, Forlan struck again in the 116th minute, securing Atleti their second major European title, capping Quique Sanchez Flores’ first season with glory after he replaced Abel Resino in October 2009.

Atletico would later add another two Europa League trophies to their cabinet under Diego Simeone in 2012 and 2018, but the first will always be remembered.

So, what has happened to that victorious Atletico team since?

Goalkeeper: David de Gea

Atletico Madrid appearances: 84

Current club: Manchester United

The 2009/10 season was David de Gea’s first as Atletico’s starting goalkeeper, having replaced Sergio Asenjo midway through the campaign. Starting all but one of Atletico’s Europa League games that season, De Gea kept three clean sheets including what would be a crucial one in the semi-final first leg against Liverpool.

De Gea spent one more year at Atletico, as first-choice goalkeeper before signing for Manchester United. A slow start at the Red Devils was quickly forgotten as the Spaniard grew to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world, integral to Manchester United’s team under various managers. In recent years, De Gea’s standards have dropped, but the Spaniard remains unstoppable on his day, though he has recently lost his place to Dean Henderson.

Right-back: Tomas Ujfalusi

Atletico Madrid appearances: 133

Current club: Retired

Tomas Ujfalusi missed just one of Atletico Madrid’s nine games in their successful Europa League campaign, sitting out the semi-final second leg defeat to Liverpool – their only loss of the run. The veteran Czech Republic defender had a tough evening trying to keep Simon Davies and Paul Konchesky quiet, but emerged with a winners’ medal.

Like De Gea, Ujfalusi left Atletico in 2011, joining Galatasaray. After two Turkish league titles in two years, the defender briefly joined Sparta Prague before retiring at the end of 2013. He returned to Galatasaray shortly after as sporting director, though he did not spend too long in the role.

Centre-back: Luis Perea

Atletico Madrid appearances: 304

Current club: Retired

A legend at Atletico Madrid perhaps forgotten by some outside the club, Luis Perea was in his sixth year with the club when he starred at centre-back to secure the Europa League in 2010. Perea remained with Atletico for another two seasons, lifting the Europa League again in 2012 and becoming the foreign player with the most competitive appearances for Atletico Madrid at the time of his departure. However, he has since been overtaken by both Filipe Luis and Diego Godin.

After leaving Atletico, Perea spent three years with Mexican club Cruz Azul before retiring in 2015.

Centre-back: Alvaro Dominguez

Atletico Madrid appearances: 120

Current club: Retired

Coming through Atletico Madrid’s academy, Alvaro Dominguez partnered Luis Perea at centre-back for the majority of the Europa League campaign having started the season at left-back.

Dominguez would spend four years as part of the Atletico first team before joining Borussia Monchengladbach in 2012, like Perea earning another Europa League winners’ medal in 2012. The defender had a good start at Gladbach but eventually suffered chronic back problems, forcing him to retire in 2016.

Left-back: Antonio Lopez

Atletico Madrid appearances: 259

Current club: Retired

Club captain Antonio Lopez spent eight years with Atletico between 2004 and 2012, winning two Europa League trophies and was a key part of the 2009/10 side having regained his spot from the injured Mariano Pernia.

After leaving in 2012, Lopez spent two years with Mallorca before retiring.

Right-midfielder: Jose Antonio Reyes

Atletico Madrid appearances: 154

A Spanish legend, Jose Antonio Reyes spent five years at Atletico after joining from Arsenal in 2007. A thrilling player on the wing, the Spaniard was vital to Atletico’s success in 2010 and did his part in the 2012 win too, despite leaving for Sevilla midway through the campaign.

The Europa League would end up being Reyes’ competition, with the Spaniard winning it a further three times with Sevilla, standing alone as the most decorated player in Uefa Cup and Europa League history with five titles. After four years at Sevilla, Reyes spent a season with Espanyol and later moved to Cordoba. Reyes also had a brief spell in China with Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard before returning to Spain with Extremadura.

Sadly, Reyes passed away in 2019.

Central midfielder: Paulo Assunção

Atletico Madrid appearances: 147

Current club: Retired

The tough tackler at the heart of Atletico’s midfield, Brazilian Paulo Assuncao was key to the club’s Europa League win, playing every minute of the successful 2009/10 campaign. Assuncao remained at Atletico for the 2012 victory but by that time he had lost his place in the starting XI, having to make do with the rare appearance.

Assuncao left Madrid for Sao Paulo in the summer of 2012 but returned to Spain just six months later, signing for Deportivo La Coruna. Another brief spell in Greece followed, before Assuncao retired in 2014.

Central midfielder: Raul Garcia

Atletico Madrid appearances: 329

Current club: Athletic Bilbao

At the time of the 2010 Europa League final, Raul Garcia had lost his spot in the Atletico starting XI following the loan signing of Tiago. But the Portuguese was cup-tied in the Europa League, handing Garcia his spot back for the showpiece event.

Garcia spent a further five years with Atletico, helping them win La Liga in 2014, although he was absent for the 2012 Europa League victory, having been sent on loan to Osasuna. Now at Athletic Bilbao, Garcia plays further forward, switching between an attacking midfield role and striker. In the 2019/20 campaign, Garcia recorded his best return of 15 league goals and also became the first player to score in every calendar month.

Left-midfielder: Simao

Atletico Madrid appearances: 168

Current club: Retired

Portuguese legend Simao was in his final full season at Atletico when they won the Europa League, with the midfielder scoring in the last-16 win over Galatasaray. Simao left Atletico in December 2010, signing for Turkish side Besiktas, where he enjoyed more success, winning the Turkish Cup.

The Portuguese midfielder returned to Spain with Espanyol in 2012, spending two years with the club before being released. A short spell in the Indian Super League preceded his retirement.

Striker: Diego Forlan

Atletico Madrid appearances: 198

Current club: Retired

The goalscoring hero on the night, Forlan enjoyed the most successful spell of his career at Atletico, scoring 96 goals in total. But Forlan’s time at Atletico would only last one more season before he joined Inter Milan in 2011.

That move started Forlan’s journey around the globe including spells in Brazil, Japan, Uruguay, India and Hong Kong before his retirement. Forlan is now back in his native Uruguay, managing Atenas de San Carlos.

Striker: Sergio Aguero

Atletico Madrid appearances: 230

Current club: Manchester City

Although he did not find himself on the scoresheet against Fulham, Sergio Aguero was involved in both goals, with his shot falling to the feet of Forlan for the first and then providing the cross for the winner.

Aguero spent one more year at Atletico, before interest from elsewhere peaked and he completed a move to Manchester City. The Argentinian has not looked back since. Aguero has been vital to Man City’s growth as a super power in England, scoring the goals to help them win four Premier League titles — soon to be five — one FA Cup and six League Cups.

Aguero stands clear as the greatest goalscorer in Man City’s history, scoring 257 goals in all competitions so far, and will leave the club this summer upon the expiration of his contract, bowing out as an Etihad immortal.

Atletico Madrid's Europa League 2010 winners: What happened next?

Substitutes

Jose Manuel Jurado

Atletico Madrid appearances: 125

Current club: Free agent

Midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado spent four years with Atletico Madrid and featured regularly, but the 2009/10 campaign was his final season at the club – though what a way to cap it off. Leaving a Europa League winner, Jurado signed for Schalke and spent two years with the German club before joining Spartak Moscow initially on loan.

In 2015, Jurado moved to England with Watford but spent just one year at the club before returning to Spain and Espanyol. Jurado has since represented Al-Ahli, Changchun Yatai and Cadiz, joining the latter at the start of the 2019/20 season, though he was often a substitute as they gained promotion to La Liga and has since left.

Eduardo Salvio

Atletico Madrid appearances: 69

Current club: Boca Juniors

Eduardo Salvio had only joined Atletico in January 2010 from Argentinian club Lanus, featuring 21 times over the campaign. But his Atletico career was not a long one, leaving for Benfica on loan in August 2010.

Salvio did return to Atletico for another season – and another Europa League – in 2012, before signing for Benfica permanently. The Argentinian international spent seven years with Benfica and was vital to their domination of Portugal during that period, scoring 66 goals as they won five league titles, two Portuguese Cups and four Portuguese League Cups. Salvio is now at Boca Juniors and won the league in his first season at the club.

Juan Valera

Atletico Madrid appearances: 97

Current club: Retired

Used as a late substitute to wrap up the trophy, Juan Valera was called upon sporadically in his six years at Atletico, one of which was spent on loan at Racing Santader.

Valera left Atletico in 2011 for Getafe and spent four years there before retiring in 2015.

Unused substitutes: Joel Robles, Juanito, Leandro Cabrera, Ignacio Camacho

Europa League final 2010: Atletico Madrid line-up

David de Gea, Tomáš Ujfaluši, Luis Perea, Álvaro, Domínguez, Antonio López (c), José Antonio Reyes, Paulo Assunção, Raúl García, Simão, Diego Forlán, Sergio Agüero.

Subs:

Juan Valera, Jose Manuel Jurado, Eduardo Silva.

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