Football Features

Where are they now? The last Celtic team to play Champions League knockout football

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:27, 8 April 2021

After decades of giant killings and famous nights at Parkhead, it’s been something of a slog in the Uefa Champions League for Celtic in recent years.

Long gone are the days where the Hoops would go toe-to-toe with Lionel Messi and Barcelona, with Celtic most recently crashing out of Uefa’s flagship competition at the hands of Hungarian minnows Ferencváros.

In fact, it has now been eight years since the Bhoys played a Champions League knockout game, falling 2-0 away to a Juventus side containing the likes of Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Quagliarella in March 2013, which sealed a 5-0 aggregate exit.

The side lining up for Celtic nowadays is incredibly different to that night in Turin, so, with that in mind, let’s take a look where the players who fell to Juventus are now.

Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster

Age: 33

Current club: Southampton

Forster spent another year in Glasgow following this Champions League exit, lifting the 2013/14 Scottish Premiership title in the process, before moving to the opposite end of the UK to become Southampton’s number one.

Forster was an initial success on the South Coast, playing 124 games across all competitions during his first four seasons with the Saints and picking up a handful of senior England caps in the process, but a loss of form and fitness saw him lose his place to Alex McCarthy.

Forster had another stint on loan at Celtic last season, impressing across 39 games before returning to Southampton once again.


Right-back: Adam Matthews

Age: 29

Current club: Charlton Athletic

There was plenty of expectation placed upon Matthews following his initial emergence at Cardiff City and a move to Celtic following the expiry of his contract was supposed to be the move to truly kick-start his career.

Matthews performed well during his 150 appearances for the Hoops but since leaving in 2015, the 29-year-old has struggled with the likes of Sunderland, Bristol City and Charlton Athletic. His lack of consistency at club level has also limited Matthews to just 14 senior caps for Wales, when he should have so many more.

Centre-back: Kelvin Wilson

Age: 35

Current club: Ilkeston Town

Although he had been very solid in the Championship with Nottingham Forest, Wilson’s time with Celtic was short-lived, returning to the City Ground in 2013 after just two full seasons in Glasgow.

His career has very much been on the downturn since then and having been unable to re-cement his place at Forest, Wilson now plays non-league football with Ilkeston Town after a short spell at Rotherham United.

Centre-back: Victor Wanyama

Age: 29

Current club: CF Montreal

As he has done throughout his career, Wanyama filled in as a make-shift centre-back against Juventus and overall, was a key member of the Celtic squad in this period.

At the end of the season, he left to join Southampton for £12.5m, making him the first-ever Kenyan to play in the Premier League. At St Mary’s, Wanyama notched up 97 appearances and did enough to convince Tottenham to part with £11m for his services in 2016.

Wanyama was initially a success in north London, playing 47 times during the 2016/17 season but injuries soon crept into his game and limited him to just 18, 13 and two Premier League appearances across the next three campaigns, although he did help Spurs reach the 2018/19 Champions League final.

At 29, Wanyama now finds himself in MLS with the newly rebranded Canadian side Club de Foot Montreal.


Left-back: Emilio Izaguirre

Age: 34

Current club: Marathon

Arguably one of the best players in this side, Izaguirre was consistently linked with a move to the Premier League during his time with Celtic, although it never quite transpired.

The Honduran’s first spell at Parkhead saw him play 252 times for the Hoops, lifting six league titles along the way, before he took off for a one-year stay in the Saudi Professional League with Al-Fayha.

Izaguirre returned for another season at Celtic in 2018/19 but despite playing 19 times across all competitions, rejected a 12-month contract extension. The 34-year-old left-back now plays back in his homeland with Marathon after a spell with fellow Honduran giants FC Motagua.

Right-wing: Kris Commons

Age: 37

Current club: Retired

Commons was one of the key attacking pieces to this Celtic side and the season following this defeat to Juventus saw the Englishman net no fewer than 32 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions — enough to win him PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year and SFWA Footballer of the Year titles.

The goalscoring wideman carried on for another couple of years thereafter but with his influence in the final third declining, Commons retired in 2017 after a five-game loan spell with Hibernian.

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Central midfield: Beram Kayal

Age: 32

Current club:Bnei Sakhnin

Such was the pressure Celtic came under, Beram Kayal often found himself dropping in as an extra centre-back against Juventus and ended the night with a team-high five tackles — his versatility and willingness to work for the good of his team were qualities that made him well-liked at Parkhead.

Unfortunately for Kayal, injuries disrupted his time in Scotland and the 46-time Israel international is now back in his homeland with Bnei Sakhnin after a five-and-a-half-year stay with Brighton and a short loan spell at Charlton.

Central midfield: Joe Ledley

Age: 34

Current club: Newport County

Ledley is one of the real success stories of this team, leaving Celtic in January 2014 for Crystal Palace and playing 127 times in the top two tiers of English football with the Eagles, Derby County and Charlton. At international level, the midfielder was also part of the Wales side which went all the way to the semi-finals at Euro 2016.

Nowadays, after injuries hindered his ability to compete at a Premier League level, the 34-year-old Ledley finds himself playing for Newport County after a short spell in the Australian A-League with Newcastle Jets.

Left-wing: Charlie Mulgrew

Age: 35

Current club: Fleetwood Town (on loan from Blackburn Rovers)

A hugely versatile player, Mulgrew was deployed on the left of midfield in this match in a bid to nullify Juventus in wide areas. His six-year, 207-game spell with Celtic — which ended in 2016 — saw him most often line up at left-back and the Scotland international lifted five league titles during his time in Glasgow.

Since leaving Celtic, Mulgrew has been plying his trade for Blackburn Rovers, although his relationship with the club has become strenuous, to say the least, leading to a loan move to Fleetwood Town.

Striker: Georgios Samaras

Age: 36

Current club: Retired

After struggling in the Premier League with Manchester City, Samaras found his home north of the border with Celtic, scoring 74 goals in 249 games and helping the Hoops to four Scottish Premiership titles. The Greek target-man is just as well-loved for his exploits off the field as he is for his goalscoring, too.

Unfortunately for Samaras, Celtic was the high-point of his career and he never quite found his best form again throughout spells with West Brom, Al-Hilal, Rayo Oklahoma City, Real Zaragoza and Samsunspor. Now 36 years old, Samaras has been retired since 2018.

Striker: Gary Hooper

Age: 33

Current club: Kerala Blasters

Joining from Scunthorpe United in 2010, Gary Hooper was ridiculously prolific during his three seasons at Celtic, scoring 82 goals in 138 games — including a 31-goal haul in his final season at Parkhead.

He joined Norwich City in 2013 but managed just six goals in 32 Premier League games and was unable to keep the Canaries in the top-flight. Since then, he’s turned out for Sheffield Wednesday and A-League side Wellington Phoenix, while he’s now in India with Kerala Blasters.


Efe Ambrose

Age: 32

Current club: Livingston

Going from brilliant to baffling at a moment’s notice, Ambrose was often scapegoated during his time at Celtic, despite holding his own across 168 games. The 51-time Nigeria international left for Hibs in 2017 and after a short spell at Derby County, is back in Scotland with Livingston.

Lassad Nouioui

Age: 35

Current club: Retired

Nouioui played just 19 games during a fairly uneventful spell with Celtic in 2012/13, leaving for Portuguese side Arouca after just one season. After only 15 appearances there, the three-time Tunisia international retired in 2014.

James Forrest

Age: 29

Current club: Celtic

Forrest was just starting to come into his own around this time and since the 2012/13 season, has done nothing but improve. A one-club man, Forrest has played 408 times for Celtic so far, scoring 91 goals and winning nine league titles along the way.

At international level, Forrest has five goals in 35 caps for Scotland though, curiously, they all came within three days in November 2018 during Uefa Nations League matches against Albania (2) and Israel (3).


Celtic unused substitutes:

Lukasz Zaluska (GK, now a free agent)
Dylan McGeouch (CM, now plays for Aberdeen)
Miku (ST, now plays for Deportivo La Coruna)
Anthony Stokes (ST, now a free agent)