Football Features

Where are Porto’s class of 2011 now? The last club outside Europe’s ‘big five’ to win a Uefa competition

By Harry Edwards

Published: 9:00, 22 July 2023

Over the years, clubs in Europe’s top five leagues have opened up a gap in quality over the rest of the continent.

Teams from Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France have all flourished in European competitions — from the Champions League to the Europa League, and now even the Europa Conference League — often dominating the latter stages and eventually being crowned the winners.

In fact, since the start of the 2011/12 season, no team outside of Europe’s big five leagues has won the Champions League, Europa League or the Conference League — though Feyenoord did reach the inaugural final — with Spain (15), England, (seven), Germany (three) and Italy (one) taking the plaudits.

The last team from outside of Europe’s big five leagues to taste glory was Porto, who lifted the 2010/11 Europa League by beating fellow Portuguese side Braga 1-0 in the final in Dublin.

Led by Andre Villas-Boas, before his move to Chelsea, Porto lost just two of their 15 games in the competition with a team full of stars. But where are they now?

Goalkeeper: Helton

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 45
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 15
Current club: Retired

The Porto goalkeeper of the era, Helton kept goal all throughout the Europa League campaign, and prevented opponents from scoring on four occasions, including a clean sheet in the final.

Helton continued at Porto until his retirement in 2016, ultimately spending 11 years with the club during which he made 332 appearances and won a plethora of trophies to add to the Europa League glory.

Incredibly, at the age of 42, Helton came out of retirement to play in goal for U.D. Leiria, the club Porto signed him from, in the Portuguese third-tier before once again hanging up his gloves.

Right-back: Cristian Sapunaru

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 39
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 11
Current club: Rapid Bucuresti

Cristian Sapunaru shared the right-back responsibilities with Jorge Fucile during the 2010/11 campaign and got the nod in the final, due to the Uruguayan’s injury.

After winning the Europa League, in his third season with Porto, Sapunaru spent just one more year with the Portuguese club before joining Real Zaragoza. The defender had another spell in Spain with Elche before returning to his native Romania and now plays for Rapid Bucuresti.


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Centre-back: Rolando

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 37
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 13
Current club: Retired

Another name often synonymous with this Porto side, Rolando was a defensive rock during his seven-year stay, winning four league titles and four domestic cups to add to his Europa League glory.

In 2015 Rolando made the move to Marseille and had another fairly lengthy spell there, four years, before being released in the summer of 2019. After a brief stint without a club, Rolando returned to Portuguese football with Braga in February 2020, before leaving in July 2022. He is yet to join a new club.

Centre-back: Nicolas Otamendi

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 35
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 13
Current club: Benfica

Rolando’s centre-back partner for the final was Nicolas Otamendi, who missed just two of Porto’s games in the Europa League that season – his first campaign outside his native Argentina.

Otamendi would spend four years with Porto before joining Valencia in 2014, but just one season later he made his £32m move to Manchester City where enjoyed domestic success despite frequent scrutiny over his performances. Otamendi is now back in Portugal with Porto’s rivals Benfica, slotting straight into the defence.

Left-back: Alvaro Pereira

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 37
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 12
Current club: Retired

Completing the defence in the final was Uruguayan left-back Alvaro Pereira, who joined Porto the previous season from Romanian club Cluj.

Pereira spent three years in total at Porto before being sold to Inter Milan in 2012 but the left-back didn’t have as much success in Italy. Two loan spells preceded a permanent sale to Argentinian side Estudiantes and, after stints with Nacional in his native Uruguay and River Plate Asuncion in Paraguay, Pereira moved to Venezuela with Estudiantes de Merida, before bowing out in 2021.

Defensive midfielder: Fernando

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 35
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 12
Current club: Sevilla

Known mostly in England for his spell at Man City, Fernando spent seven years with Porto before that move and was a key figure in their Europa League-winning side.

Adding four league titles to European glory, Fernando went on to Man City but joined between their Premier League successes in 2014 and 2018. Fernando left Man City in 2015 for Galatasaray and spent two years with the Turkish club before joining Sevilla where he remains having added two more Europa League triumphs.

Central midfielder: Fredy Guarin

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 37
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 14
Current club: Retired

Fredy Guarin was Porto’s second-highest scorer in the 2010/11 Europa League campaign, scoring five goals while also adding three assists, including one in the final.

The Colombian’s performances for Porto over his three-and-a-half-year stay piqued the interest of Inter Milan, who initially loaned the midfielder before signing him permanently. Guarin would spend four years at Inter before moving to Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, Vasco da Gama in Brazil and eventually Millonarios whom he left in 2021.

Central midfielder: Joao Moutinho

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 36
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 15
Current club: Free agent

The key midfield man for Porto, Joao Moutinho was in his first season at the club having signed from Sporting CP in the summer of 2010.

Moutinho spent just three years at Porto before his move to Monaco, who were threatening to build a thrilling squad to rival Paris Saint-Germain. The Portuguese left five years later, with a Ligue 1 title under his belt, joining Wolves where he continued to exude class in the middle of the pitch. This summer, Moutinho’s time at Wolves came to an end after five years and though he is yet to find a new club there are links with a move to Saudi Arabia.

Right winger: Hulk

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 37
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 15
Current club: Atletico Mineiro

It was during his four-year spell at Porto that Hulk made a name for himself in European football, having spent the early periods of his career in Brazil and Japan, and he scored four goals in the Europa League-winning campaign.

Hulk was constantly subject to Premier League interest but joined Russian club Zenit in 2012 and continued to hassle defences before his move to Shanghai SIPG four years later. The 37-year-old returned to Brazil to play for Atletico Mineiro in 2021, helping them win the Brazilian top flight, Copa do Brasil and reach the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.


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Striker: Radamel Falcao

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 37
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 14
Current club: Rayo Vallecano

There may not have been a more terrifying striker in European football than Radamel Falcao at the time of Porto’s Europa League glory. The Colombian grabbed the only goal of the final, taking his total tally for the campaign to 17 — a Europa League record.

That summer Falcao was snapped up by Atletico Madrid and continued to grow as a fearsome striker, scoring 70 goals in 91 games. But after a move to Monaco in 2013 injuries began to plague Falcao’s career and, despite a decent return for the French club, the Colombian may be more remembered for unsuccessful Premier League loans at Manchester United and Chelsea. Falcao is now at Rayo Vallecano after enjoying a brief spell with Galatasaray.

Left winger: Silvestre Varela

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 38
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 10
Current club: Retired

Completing the front three in the final was Silvestre Varela, who was a frequent member of the Europa League squad.

Varela spent eight years in total at Porto, but his final season was split between loan spells at West Brom and Parma, before an eventual move to Kayserispor. After two years in Turkey, Varela was released in the summer of 2019 and eventually returned to Portugal with Belenenses before joining FC Porto B. After two years back at the club, Varela retired.

Substitutes

Fernando Belluschi

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 39
Position: Central midfielder
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 11
Current club: Estudiantes

Most of Fernando Belluschi’s appearances during the Europa League-winning campaign come from the bench and it was no different in the final as he replaced Fredy Guarin.

After three years at Porto, which included a loan to Genoa, Belluschi was sold to Turkish club Bursaspor – spending a further three years there. Belluschi is now back in his native Argentina, joining Estudiantes in 2022 after spells at Lanus, Cruz Azul, San Lorenzo and Newell’s Old Boys.

James Rodriguez

Porto 2010/11 Europa League winners: Where are they now?

Age: 32
Position: Attacking midfielder
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 9
Current club: Free agent

A teenager in his first season with Porto, James Rodriguez was also restricted to substitute appearances in 2010/11, but the breakthrough was on its way.

Over the following two years Rodriguez’s performances caught the eye of clubs around Europe but it was Monaco who won his signature in 2013. Rodriguez spent just one season in France before being signed by Real Madrid, a move helped by his performances for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup. After failing to reach the high expectations placed on him, Rodriguez moved to Everton to revive his career but that stay was short and he’s now a free agent after brief spells with Al-Rayyan and Olympiacos.

Manager: Andre Villas-Boas

Age: 45
Current club: Unattached

The Europa League final was Villas-Boas’ penultimate game in charge of Porto, as he left the club after securing the Portuguese Cup. Chelsea was his next destination, tasked with bringing through a new era at Stamford Bridge, but Villas-Boas was sacked by February due to poor results and management of the club’s senior players.

Villas-Boas stayed in London for his next job, taking charge of Tottenham Hotspur for 18 months, but once again struggled to lift them up the table. The Portuguese manager did enjoy success with Zenit, winning the Russian league and cup in separate seasons before a year-long stint in China. Villas-Boas returned to Europe and guided Marseille back to the Champions League in his first season, finishing second in Ligue 1 in 2020/21. However, after a sensational falling out over the club’s sale of Morgan Sanson and subsequent signing of Olivier Ntcham where he offered his resignation to Marseille, Villas-Boas is once again without a club.

Other squad members

Maicon

Age: 34
Position: Centre-back
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Vasco da Gama

Not to be confused with the former Inter Milan right-back, Maicon spent six years with Porto and started the Europa League campaign at the heart of the defence before a red card ultimately cost him his place.

After being sold to Sao Paulo in 2016, Maicon quickly returned to European football a year later, signing for Galatasaray where he remained until 2020 before joining Al-Nassr in the United Arab Emirates. The veteran centre-back left the club, however, claiming he hadn’t been paid in months and returned to Brazil with spells at Cruzeiro, Santos, and now Vasco da Gama.

Jorge Fucile

Age: 38
Position: Right-back
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 10
Current club: Retired

As previously mentioned, Jorge Fucile was one of the first-choice full-backs for Porto during the Europa League campaign and only missed the final due to injury.

After leaving Porto in 2014, Fucile returned to his native Uruguay with Nacional and spent five years at the club. A brief spell in Spain in late 2019 preceded the defender’s retirement. Like Helton, Fucile has returned to the game, signing for Juventud de Las Piedras in his homeland but called time on his career for the second time recently.

Josef

Age: 34
Position: Defensive midfielder
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Beijing Guoan

Josef spent just two-and-a-half seasons at Porto, with the 2010/11 campaign being his first, although he was unable to truly impact the squad.

The three-cap Brazilian international was sold to Gremio in 2013 before joining Sao Paulo two years later. A return to Europe in 2015 saw Josef sign for Fenerbahce and, after three years, he joined Al-Ahli where he remained until 2020. Josef returned to Turkey with Besiktas, but has taken his globetrotting to China this year, recently signing for Beijing Guoan.

Andre Castro

Age: 35
Position: Central midfielder
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 1
Current club: Braga

Andre Castro came through the academy at Porto but played just four minutes during their Europa League-winning campaign and was on loan at Sporting Gijon when they lifted the trophy.

The midfielder was eventually sold to Kasimpasa in 2014 and stayed in Turkey for his next move three years later, to Goztepe. But Castro is now back in Portugal, signing for Braga in 2020.

Ruben Micael

Age: 36
Position: Central midfielder
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Retired

Ruben Micael was an unused substitute in the final but did help Porto on their way to the trophy, scoring three goals. The 2010/11 campaign was Micael’s only season at Porto, joining Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011.

After two years and no appearances for Atleti, spending his time on loan, Micael returned to Portugal with Braga. Spells in China and Israel followed before another return to Portugal, turning out for Pacos Ferreira and Vitoria Setubal and finally Nacional before his retirement.

Cristian Rodriguez

Age: 37
Position: Left winger
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 11
Current club: Retired

Cristian Rodriguez was a frequent starter in attack for Villas-Boas in the Europa League and would have likely taken Varela’s place in the starting XI had he not been injured.

The Uruguayan midfielder left Porto two years later, joining Atletico Madrid and spent three years in Spain before moving to Argentinian side Independiente. Rodriguez finished up his career at Plaza Colonia after enjoying a stay with boyhood club Penarol.

Walter

Age: 34
Position: Forward
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 4
Current club: Pelotas

Walter joined Porto in the summer of 2010 and made four appearances in their Europa League-winning campaign but his time at the club was littered with loans. Spending eight different temporary spells away from the club, Walter finally left Porto permanently in 2019 but did not find a new club until the summer of 2020, joining Paranaense, but he’s now at Pelotas after spells with Vitoria, Sao Caetano, Botafogo SP, Amazonas, Goiania, Santa Cruz and Afogados.

Ukra

Age: 35
Position: Right winger
2010/11 Europa League appearances: 1
Current club: Rio Ave

Ukra came through the academy at Porto but played just 44 minutes in the Europa League, actually being loaned to Braga for the second half of the 2010/11 campaign – although he was cup-tied for the final.

He left Porto in 2013 for Rio Ave but left Portugal in 2016, moving to Saudi Arabian side Al-Fateh. After a spell with CSKA Sofia, Ukra is now back in Portugal with Rio Ave after spending time at Santa Clara.

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