Football Features

Where are they now? The Claude Puel-led Lyon side that reached the Champions League semi-finals

By CJ Smith

Published: 15:30, 7 November 2023

Lyon are in trouble.

After 10 games of the 2023/24 Ligue 1 season, Les Gones sit bottom of the league, still without a victory. In fact, they are one of just three teams in Europe’s top five leagues yet to win a game, alongside Salernitana in Serie A and Almeria in La Liga.

The French club are under new ownership with Jean-Michel Aulas having sold up last year, and the uncertainty off the pitch is seeping through to the players. They have drawn four and lost six of their opening 10 matches, six points outside the relegation play-off spot. Of course, there’s still a long way to go in the season, but it’s looking bleak right now.

It wasn’t always that way. In 2010, Lyon still had fresh memories of their seven-year spell of domestic dominance and made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League, knocking out Real Madrid along the way.

Bayern Munich ended their dream run, but it was a Lyon side laced with some pretty recognisable names.

Some of those players are revered footballing talents even now, others not so much. But exactly where are those players now and what did their career paths have in store for them following that famous clash with footballing royalty? Let’s take a look.

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Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris

Age: 36

Lyon appearances: 201

Current club: Tottenham Hotspur

He hasn’t won a major trophy at club level since leaving Lyon, but it’s fair to say Hugo Lloris made a huge success of himself during that time.

The now-veteran goalkeeper has made over 400 appearances between the sticks for Spurs, playing in League Cup and Champions League finals. Although silverware in north London has eluded him, he was an ever-present in what was the strongest Spurs side of the Premier League era. He has fallen out of favour now though, clearly not in Ange Postecoglou’s plans.

It’s at international level that Lloris has truly excelled, though, picking up 145 caps for France and, in 2018, helping Les Bleus to a second World Cup title, the crowning moment of his career.

Right-back: Anthony Reveillere

Age: 43

Lyon appearances: 399

Current club: Retired

One of the less famous members of this squad, Anthony Reveillere’s career path after leaving Lyon in 2013 – having made almost 400 appearances for the club – is certainly an interesting one.

First, he pitched up at Italian side Napoli but was unable to really make an impact with the Partenopei, gathering just 18 appearances for the club across all competitions during his one-season stay.

Next, he ended up in the Premier League with Sunderland, who reportedly beat off competition from Arsenal for his signature. His time in the North East was initially a success, with manager Gus Poyet even suggesting he could extend his contract to stay on at Wearside for another season. But Poyet was soon relieved of his duties and replaced by Dick Advocaat, who favoured the more attack-minded Billy Jones at right-back.

Reveillere lost his place and at the end of the 2014/15 season, then called time on his career.

Centre-back: Cris

Age: 45

Lyon appearances: 309

Current club: Retired

Nicknamed “the policeman” by his teammates, Brazilian centre-back Cris was a real stalwart of that classic Lyon side, putting in 309 appearances across all competitions during an eight-year stay at the club.

Cris remained at Lyon for another two seasons after their famous win over Real, delivering another Coupe de France title for good measure before moving to Galatasaray in 2012.

But the Brazilian made just 12 league appearances in Turkey before terminating his contract, with short, unsuccessful spells at Gremio and Vasco de Gama to follow in his homeland before finally calling time on his playing career in 2014.

Cris has since turned to management, last in charge of French third tier side Versailles.

Centre-back: Jean-Alain Boumsong

Age: 43

Lyon appearances: 85

Current club: Retired

Easily one of the most recognisable members of this Lyon squad for English football fans, although not for the right reasons. Before pitching up with the French club, Jean-Alain Boumsong had endured a mistake-ridden, nightmare spell at Newcastle United and, somehow, was part of Juventus’ Serie B-winning side in 2006/07.

Boumsong joined Lyon to try and boost his chances of making France’s Euro 2008 squad, which he did, and following a relatively successful spell with Les Gones, spent three years at Panathinaikos before retiring in 2013.

Since then, he’s picked up a mathematics degree and been assistant manager of Cameroon under Clarence Seedorf.


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Left-back: Aly Cissokho

Age: 36

Lyon appearances: 136

Current club: Lamphun Warrior

Aly Cissokho’s solid appearances at left-back in this Lyon squad eventually earned him a move to Valencia in 2013 but since then, he’s been something of a journeyman.

The one-time France international spent a season on loan at Liverpool, playing a not-so-important role in their 2013/14 title challenge under Brendan Rodgers, had a couple of years at Aston Villa and has also taken in loan spells at Porto – his second stint there – and Olympiacos.

He’s moved around in recent years, playing in Turkey and currently out in Thailand.

Central midfielder: Jeremy Toulalan

Age: 40

Lyon appearances: 209

Current club: Retired

Considering he’s had grey hair for years, it seems like Jeremy Toulalan is much older than he actually is. A player of class, Toulalan left football with a whimper, terminating his contract with Bordeaux in January 2018 in support of Jocelyn Gourvennec, who was sacked as manager after a 15-game winless run.

Between then and leaving Lyon in 2011, Toulalan has represented Malaga – where he was signed by Manuel Pellegrini to try and cope with the demands of Champions League football – and, after injury and financial issues curtailed his Spanish spell, he joined Monaco.

Toulalan left Les Monegasques the year before their famous 2016/17 Ligue 1 title success to join Bordeaux before calling time on his career.

Central midfielder: Jean II Makoun

Age: 40

Lyon appearances: 104

Current club: Retired

It was Jean Makoun’s thunderbolt which gave Lyon their unlikely lead over Real Madrid after the first leg and in all honesty, his career peaked at that moment. The Cameroon international remained at Lyon for another year before heading to England for an ill-fated spell with Aston Villa, making just 11 appearances.

Makoun had a loan spell at Olympiacos, winning the Greek double, before moving back to France to join Rennes, where, for a short time, he rediscovered something of his former self.

He last turned out for Antalyaspor in Turkey but given that he’s been without a club since 2017, it’s safe to assume he has quietly called time on his playing career (after brief flirtation with a potential Ligue 2 return in 2020).

Central midfielder: Miralem Pjanic

Age: 33

Lyon appearances: 121

Current club: Sharjah

There are some big names in this Lyon side – both good and bad – but none perhaps as successful as Miralem Pjanic, the man who scored the winning goal against Real Madrid in the first leg of their 2010 meeting.

The Bosnian midfielder actually had to battle for his place during his final season at Lyon following the arrival of Yoann Gourcuff and eventually left for Roma in 2011.

It took some time for him to nail down a starting XI spot there, too, but a goal in the Derby della Capitale against Lazio soon propelled him as one of Roma’s most important players.

He left Roma in 2016 as Serie A’s joint-highest assist provider alongside Paul Pogba with 12, joining the dominant force in Italian football, Juventus. His time with the Old Lady yielded over 150 appearances, four Serie A titles, two Coppas Italia and a reputation as one of Europe’s most consistent, well-rounded midfielders thanks to his ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch.

His midfield brilliance caught the eye of Barcelona, who went all out to prise the Bosnian away from Turin in a deal thought to be worth around £54.9m. However, things didn’t go well and he is now in the UAE Pro League with Sharjah, following a loan spell at Besiktas.

Right-winger: Sidney Govou

Age: 44

Lyon appearances: 408

Current club: Retired

Sidney Govou garnered a reputation as a deadly goalscoring winger during his time with Lyon but left shortly after their Champions League success against Real Madrid to join Greek giants Panathinaikos.

It’s safe to say Govou was well and truly over the hill by that point and the former France international managed just two league goals in five years, also taking in spells at Evian, in Lyon’s reserve team, Monts d’Or Azergues and FC Miami City in the American fourth tier before retiring in 2015.

Left-winger: Cesar Delgado

Age: 42

Lyon appearances: 101

Current club: Retired

Cesar Delgado came so close to doubling Lyon’s lead in the first leg, rattling Iker Casillas’ post with a volley, and although he wasn’t a regular goalscoring threat, he more than played his part for the French side.

Since leaving Lyon in 2011, the former Argentina international has been a double Concacaf Champions League winner with Mexican side Monterrey and most recently played for Club Atlético Central Córdoba in the fourth tier of his homeland, following a short stay with Rosario Central. Delgado retired in July of 2019.

Striker: Lisandro Lopez

Age: 40

Lyon appearances: 168

Current club: Sarmiento

Lisandro Lopez notched the assist for Pjanic’s winner but it’s his own goalscoring exploits which made him so well known on the continent.

The Argentina international scored 82 goals in all competitions for Lyon, having already bagged 63 times before that for Porto.

He left France in 2013 to join Qatari side Al-Gharafa and after a short stay in Brazil with Internacional, he returned to his homeland to join Racing Club, where he started his career.

The 40-year-old is still going strong, back in Argentina, playing for Sarmiento.

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Substitutes

Kim Kallstrom

Age: 41

Lyon appearances: 282

Current club: Retired

We all know what’s coming here, don’t we?

Kim Kallstrom left Lyon in 2012 to join Spartak Moscow and after some relative success in Russia, joined Arsenal on loan in 2014. The Sweden international did pick up an FA Cup winner’s medal during his time in north London and actually scored in Arsenal’s penalty shoot-out win over Wigan Athletic, describing that performance as the “best 15 minutes of his life.”

But, of course, that’s not what he’ll be remembered for. Kallstrom is widely regarded as one of the Gunners’ worst-ever signings, making just four appearances as a back injury limited his usefulness. That’s some doing, considering his loan move didn’t cost anything in transfer fees.

He returned to Spartak at the end of the season and is now retired after short stays with Grasshoppers in Switzerland and Djurgårdens IF in his native Sweden.

The bio shot on his Wikipedia entry hardly screams elite-level footballer, but readers should be aware he’s actually Sweden’s fifth-most capped player ever with 131 appearances, and he’s represented his nation at four European Championships.

Michel Bastos

Age: 40

Lyon appearances: 142

Current club: Retired

Michel Bastos only managed a late substitute appearance during the first leg against Real but forged a good career for himself as an attacking full-back/wing-back, notching 35 goals and 21 assists during his time at Lyon.

He left in 2013 to join Schalke on loan and turned out for Al Ain, Roma, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras, Sport do Recife and Club America before finally calling time on his career in September 2019.

Bafetimbi Gomis

Age: 38

Lyon appearances: 244

Current club: Kawasaki Frontale

Bafetimbi Gomis joined Lyon at the tail end of their domestic dominance and managed to win a Coupe de France crown with the club, scoring 91 goals in 239 games along the way.

He was unable to translate that goalscoring prowess to English football, managing just 17 goals in 71 games between 2014 and 2016 for Swansea City, but since leaving South Wales, he’s rediscovered his scoring touch, netting 21 and 32 goals respectively during single-season spells with Marseille and Galatasaray. He joined Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia in 2018, scored an impressive 116 goals in 156 games, before returning to Galatasaray. After 18 months, Gomis left Galatasaray again, this time joining Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale in the summer.

Maxime Gonalons

Age: 34

Lyon appearances: 334

Current club: Clermont Foot

Maxime Gonalons was a second-half substitute in the second leg against Real remained at Lyon until 2017, finally leaving for Roma after 334 appearances for the club.

It’s been tough for the France international since, though, with first-team football at a premium in Italy. After a four-year stay in Spain with Sevilla and Granada, on loan and then permanent, Gonalons returned to France and is currently playing for Clermont Foot.

Ederson

Age: 37

Lyon appearances: 114

Current club: Retired

Ederson joined Lyon as a replacement for Juninho Pernambucano and despite playing in an unfamiliar wing position, performed well in France. He left to join Lazio in 2012 and despite not nailing down a starting spot, did win a Coppa Italia title. The 35-year-old last played for Flamengo in his native Brazil but persistent knee problems forced him out of the game and he retired in 2020.

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