Football Features

What happened next? The cult Paris Saint-Germain side of 2001/02

By Squawka News

Published: 12:00, 14 August 2019

Paris Saint-Germain is a club associated with glitz and glamour these days thanks to their lavishly assembled squad of world-class talent.

It’s only over the past seven years that France’s capital club has enjoyed sustained success, though, which has arrived courtesy of their takeover by the Qatar Sports Investment group – a move that resulted in PSG immediately becoming one of the world’s richest clubs.

Over the last seven years, they have claimed the Ligue 1 title in all but one of those seasons, yet prior to their first success in 2012/13, they had only lifted the French top-flight title twice since their inception in 1970.

Despite their lack of domestic title success pre-takeover, PSG still had a good pedigree in the game thanks to their exploits in cup competitions, most notably winning the Uefa Cup Winners Cup in 1996.

And while they have not always been one of the elite clubs on the continent, their location in one of the most iconic cities in the world and their impressive Parc des Princes stadium has always made them an attractive proposition for footballers.

However, while their squad now boasts immense talent all over the pitch, in bygone years, their team has often been a muddled collection of gifted technicians and career journeymen, an unpredictable blend that excited fans yet failed to yield much on-pitch success.

Their squad in the 2001/02 season is a prime example of this as Luis Fernandez’s rabble of household names and misfits thrilled, yet ultimately underachieved by finishing fourth in Ligue 1 and crashing out of the Uefa Cup prematurely.

Here is what happened next to PSG’s players from the 2001/02 season.

Lionel Letizi

Position: Goalkeeper

Career path: Nice, Metz, PSG, Rangers, Nice

PSG appearances: 176

Letizi started and ended his career with Nice but the best years of his career were spent with PSG, whom he represented with some distinction between 2000-06.

A French international with four caps, Letizi won the French Cup twice while wearing PSG’s colours before moving to Glasgow to sign for Rangers in 2006, where he lasted just six months.

Bernard Mendy

Position: Right back

Career path: SC Caen, PSG, Bolton Wanderers (loan), Hull City, OB, Brest, Chennaiyin FC, AEL Limassol, Chennaiyin FC, East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC

PSG appearances: 238

Mendy joined PSG in 2000 and enjoyed a breakthrough campaign the following season, alternating with Cristobal in the right back slot.

He was deemed slightly too raw to start regularly, however, which led to a loan move to Bolton in 2002, but following an impressive season at the Reebok stadium, he regained his place in the PSG side over the next five years.

Cristobal Parralo

Position: Right back

Career path: Barcelona, Real Oviedo (loan), Logrones, Barcelona, Real Oviedo, Espanyol, PSG

PSG appearances: 63

A product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy and a six-time Spanish international, Cristobal Parralo joined PSG ahead of the 2001-02 season and retired the following year.

He embarked on a managerial career after hanging up his boots and stepped in as caretaker manager of Deportivo de La Coruna in 2017, though Parralo remained in the position for only three months, more recently taking charge of Segunda Division side AD Alcorcon before stepping down last month.

Mauricio Pochettino

Position: Centre Back

Career path: Newell’s Old Boys, Espanyol, PSG, Bordeaux, Espanyol

PSG appearances: 95

Part of Marcelo Bielsa’s Newell’s Old Boys team that surprisingly won the Argentine Primera Division in the early 90s, Pochettino went on to achieve legendary status at Espanyol before joining PSG in January 2001.

He slotted in seamlessly to the club’s defence, becoming a mainstay of the side and securing a place in Argentina’s 2002 World Cup squad off the back of his performances in Ligue 1. After a brief stint at PSG’s Ligue 1 rivals Bordeaux, Pochettino returned to Espanyol, where he retired from playing.

Since then, Pochettino has become an extremely highly-rated manager thanks to successful spells in charge of Espanyol as well as Southampton. Most recently he has turned Tottenham Hotspur into European regulars, leading the north London club to their first ever Champions League final against Liverpool last season, where they lost 2-0 in Madrid.

Frederic Dehu

Position: Centre back

Career path: RC Lens, Barcelona, PSG, Marseille Levante

PSG appearances: 142

A graduate of RC Lens’ esteemed academy, Dehu earned a move to Barcelona in 1999 but failed to secure a starting place in the side, leading to his return to France to sign for PSG.

He enjoyed an excellent four-year spell with the club and also represented their fierce rivals Marseille prior to retiring in Spain with Levante.

Gabriel Heinze

Position: Left back

Career path: Newell’s Old Boys, Real Valladolid, Sporting CP (loan), PSG, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Marseille, Roma, Newell’s Old Boys

PSG appearances: 105

Similarly to Pochettino, Heinze started his career with Newell’s Old Boys and enjoyed a relatively brief, yet successful, spell with PSG via a stint playing in Spain.

It was with PSG that Heinze’s reputation began to blossom as he earned his international debut for Argentina while playing for the club and a transfer to Manchester United.

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Mikel Arteta

Position: Centre midfield

Career path: Barcelona B, PSG, Rangers, Real Sociedad, Everton, Arsenal

PSG appearances: 53

Arteta started his career at Barcelona but struggled to break into the first-team paving the way for an 18-month loan move to PSG in December 2001.

He initially found it difficult to break into the first-team but an exceptional 2001-02 season resulted in Rangers paying Barcelona £6m to sign him that summer.

During his two-years in Glasgow, Arteta lifted the Scottish Premiership and League Cup before establishing himself South of the border with Everton and Arsenal via a short-lived stint at Real Sociedad.

Now he’s a part of Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at Manchester City after hanging up his boots at the end of the 2015/16 season and has been tipped to become a rather successful coach.

Hugo Leal

Position: Attacking midfield

Career path: Benfica, Alverca (loan), Atletico Madrid, PSG, Porto, Academica (loan), Braga, Belenenses, Trofense, Salamanca, Vitoria Setubal, Estoril

PSG appearances: 62

Once tipped to become a world-class player and a star of Portugal’s exciting generation at the turn of the century, Hugo Leal never quite lived up to expectations, spending the final years of his career bouncing around mid-table Portuguese clubs.

He was part of the Atletico Madrid squad that was inexplicably relegated in 2000 and moved to PSG soon after, winning the Coupe de la Ligue in 2004.

Jay-Jay Okocha

Position: Attacking midfield

Career path: Borussia Neunkirchen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, PSG, Bolton Wanderers, Qatar SC, Hull City

PSG appearances: 97

PSG made a huge statement of intent when they splashed out £14m to sign Okocha just after he had impressed for Nigeria at the 1998 World Cup, making him the most expensive African footballer of all-time.

Blessed with exceptional natural ability, Okocha spent four years in Paris but despite showing flashes of his genius he perhaps didn’t have the impact expected of him upon his arrival.

Following the expiration of his contract, Okocha moved to Bolton in 2002. There he became a club legend and one of the Premier League’s great entertainers.

Ronaldinho

Position: Attacking midfield

Career path: Gremio, PSG, Barcelona, Milan, Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro, Fluminense

PSG appearances: 86

Paris was the first European stop in Ronaldinho’s career as he joined them after bursting onto the scene with Gremio as well as the Brazilian national team as a teenager.

Although he made a slow start at PSG, Ronaldinho eventually became a resounding success, scoring 25 goals in 86 matches for the club across two seasons.

He became a world champion while contracted to PSG, playing a key role as Brazil lifted the 2002 World Cup and his form the following season convinced Barcelona to sign him.

Ronaldinho played a key role in re-establishing Barcelona as a major force domestically and continentally by winning two La Liga titles and a Champions League while he also won the Ballon d’Or in 2005. He finally retired from playing in early 2018.

Nicolas Anelka

Position: Striker

Career path: PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, PSG, Liverpool (loan), Fenerbahce, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Juventus (loan), West Brom, Mumbai City

PSG appearances: 66

Anelka progressed through the PSG academy, making ten competitive appearances as a 17-year-old and his immense promise was spotted by Arsene Wenger, who brought him to north London in 1997.

After establishing himself as one of the world’s brightest young attacking talents at Arsenal, Anelka earned a move to Real Madrid but after falling out of favour at the Bernabeu, he returned to his first club.

Again, Anelka failed to provide the spark and goals expected of him and he was loaned out to Liverpool midway through the 2001-02 season before leaving permanently for Manchester City.

Since retiring the once lethal marksman has dabbled in management, taking on a player-coach role with Shanghai Shenhua and a player-manager role with Mumbai City FC, before returning to his homeland to coach the Lille youth teams.

Aloisio

Position: Striker

Career path: Flamengo, Guarani, Goias, Saint-Etienne, PSG, Rubin Kazan, Atletico Paranaense, Sao Paulo, Al-Rayyan, Vasco Da Gama, Ceara, Brasiliense, Brusque, CRB, Francana, Gama, Santa Rita, Uniao Barbarense, Sport Atalaia, Ipanema, Gremio Maringa, Comercial-MS, Sete du Dourados, Gama

PSG appearances: 54

Aloisio retired after playing for his 23rd professional club at the grand old age of 42 in 2017, but his most notable time in football was spent at PSG between 2001-03 as he scored 14 goals in over 50 matches.

Upon leaving PSG, Aloisio’s career took him to Russia and Qatar as well as across the whole of Brazil by the looks of things.