Football Features

What happened next? The Stoke City side that reached the club’s only FA Cup final in 2011

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:35, 1 March 2022 | Updated: 18:28, 24 November 2022


In 2011 Stoke City made it to their first-ever FA Cup final, losing 1-0 to hand Manchester City the first trophy of the Sheikh Mansour era.

Yaya Toure drove City to a 1-0 FA Cup win over rivals Manchester United in the semi-final, and the titanic Ivorian repeated the trick in the final as he scored the only goal to ensure his side lifted their first major trophy since the mid-1970’s.


Patrick Vieira came off the bench in the last minute, ensuring that he picked up his fifth winner’s medal, taking him to second-place in the all-time FA Cup winner’s table (Ashley Cole sits top with seven – while John Terry and Petr Cech are level with Vieira on five wins apiece).

Vieira will once again go face-to-face against Stoke in the fifth round of the 2021/22 FA Cup, albeit this time as manager of Crystal Palace. Stoke will be seeking revenge for 2011 in what is unquestionably one the most iconic squads ever assembled in Staffordshire. But, what happened to them?

Managed by Tony Pulis, whose fearsome reputation was such that some broadcasters touted them as the only possible antidote to the free-flowing, free-scoring antics of prime Leo Messi and Barcelona. So, who was in that fabled team that came so close to glory, and what happened next?


FA Cup 2021/22 outright winner odds (William Hill)

  • Man City 2/1
  • Liverpool 7/2
  • Chelsea 5/1
  • Tottenham 8/1
  • West Ham 11/1
  • Everton 11/1
  • Southampton 20/1
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Starters:

Thomas Sorensen

Position: Goalkeeper

Career path: OB, Vejle (loan), Svendborg (loan), Sunderland, Aston Villa, STOKE CITY, Melbourne City.

What Happened Next? By 2011 Sorensen had lost his first-choice spot to Asmir Begovic, but he still played in the cups (hence his appearances here). After a brief return to ‘starter status’ in 2011/12, he played four times in three seasons before leaving for Australia, where he played two final years before retiring in 2017, aged 41.

Andy Wilkinson

Position: Right-back

Career path: STOKE CITY, Telford (loan), Partick Thistle (loan), Shrewsbury (loan), Blackpool (loan), Millwall (loan).

What Happened Next? Born in Stone (a stone’s throw from Stoke), this rock solid defender represented Stoke for 15 years and was at his peak around 2011, including this final. After his Wembley appearance, he had a few more years as a starter before fading away. He retired in 2016, after sustaining a head injury that prevented him from reaching his previous level.

Ryan Shawcross

Position: Centre-back

Career path: Manchester United, Royal Antwerp (loan), STOKE CITY, Inter Miami.

What Happened Next? The towering centre-back was the heartbeat of Stoke’s defence and this continued after the 2011 final defeat. Though he could never get the Potters back to that level, he played on with them until 2021 when he finally left to join Inter Miami in the MLS. All told, Shawcross played 453 times for Stoke, leaving him 8th in terms of all-time appearances.

Robert Huth

Position: Centre-back

Career path: Chelsea, Middlesbrough, STOKE CITY, Leicester

What Happened Next? The giant German had by far the best post-2011 career of all the Stoke lads. In 2015 he joined Leicester, and then by May 2016, he was a Premier League champion. He stayed on at the King Power for a couple more years, playing in the Champions League again after doing so as a youngster with Chelsea, and then retired in 2018.

Marc Wilson

Position: Left-back

Career path: Portsmouth, Yeovil (loan), Bournemouth (loan), Luton (loan), STOKE CITY, Bournemouth, West Brom (loan), Sunderland, Bolton, Throttur Vogum.

What Happened Next? Wilson was a runner-up in back-to-back finals with Portsmouth and then Stoke, and he never reached those highs again. The Irishman played on in England until 2019, dropping into the Championship with Bolton at the end, and now turns out for Icelandic third division club Throttur Vogar.

Glenn Whelan

Position: Defensive midfield

Career path: Manchester City, Bury (loan), Sheffield Wednesday, STOKE CITY, Aston Villa, Heart of Midlothian, Fleetwood Town, Wythenshawe Amateurs, Bristol Rovers.

What Happened Next? Whelan was a Stoke stalwart for many years before and after the 2011 final. He joined Aston Villa in 2017, then toured around Scotland for a while. He is still playing for Bristol Rovers, down in League Two at the age of 38.

Rory Delap

Position: Defensive midfield

Career path: Carlisle, Derby, Southampton, Sunderland, STOKE CITY, Barnsley (loan), Burton Albion

What Happened Next? ‘The God of the Long Throw’, Rory Delap was a genuine sensation in the Premier League, who altered the way teams defended against Stoke as much as any of the elite players in the division.

Delap’s throw-ins were crucial to Stoke’s 2011 FA Cup run, but his influence waned majorly after, and he managed just one more season at the top level before joining Barnsley on loan — and then Burton Albion permanently. He barely featured for the League Two side and retired midway through the season in December 2013. He is currently back with Stoke as a first-team coach.


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Jermaine Pennant

Position: Right-wing

Career path: Notts County, Arsenal, Watford (loan), Leeds (loan), Birmingham (loan), Liverpool, Portsmouth (loan), Zaragoza, STOKE CITY, Wolves (loan), FC Pune City, Wigan, Tampines Rovers, Bury, Billericay Town.

What Happened Next? The former Arsenal ace was a driving force behind Stoke’s play, and it was at the Potters where he played more than he did for any one club. The journeyman left in 2014, joining various clubs around the world before retiring in 2019.

Matthew Etherington

Position: Left-wing

Career path: Peterborough, Spurs, Bradford (loan), West Ham, STOKE CITY.

What Happened Next? Etherington wasn’t 100% fit for the FA Cup final, having injured his hamstring weeks earlier. This definitely impacted the result, and the former West Ham and Spurs winger never got that close to greatness again, playing on until 2014, when he left Stoke and retired. He began youth coaching after hanging up his boots, starting at his first club Peterborough in 2018, and he has since progressed to being assistant manager of Posh.

Jonathan Walters

Position: Striker

Career path: Blackburn, Bolton, Hull (loan), Crewe (loan), Barnsley (loan), Hull, Scunthorpe (loan), Wrexham, Chester, Ipswich, STOKE CITY, Burnley, Ipswich (loan).

What Happened Next? A ferocious Irish international, Walters was coming to the end of his debut Stoke season in 2011 and went on to play over 270 times for the Potters, becoming the joint 20th all-time goalscorer. He left in 2018 for a spell at Burnley, but injury issues limited his impact and he retired in 2019 as a result.

Crystal Palace vs Stoke City betting tips from Squawka Bet

Kenwyne Jones

Position: Striker

Career path: Joe Public, W Connection, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday (loan), STOKE CITY (loan), Sunderland, STOKE CITY, Cardiff, Bournemouth (loan), Al Jazira (loan), Atlanta United, Central (loan).

What Happened Next? There were brief moments in his early career where Kenwyne Jones looked like he could become a big deal, but it just never came together. He scored 12 times that season for Stoke but never got close to replicating that form (scoring just 16 times across the subsequent three seasons). He left in 2014 for a spell with Cardiff before globetrotting across UAE, USA and ending back in Trinidad before retiring in 2017.

Substitutes:

Dean Whitehead

Position: Central Midfield

Career path: Oxford United, Sunderland, STOKE CITY, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield.

What Happened Next? Whitehead left Stoke in 2013 after four years at the club and had two decent spells with Middlesbrough and Huddersfield before retiring in 2018.

John Carew

Position: Striker

Career path: Valerenga, Rosenborg, Valencia, Roma (loan), Besiktas, Lyon, Aston Villa, STOKE CITY (loan), West Ham.

What Happened Next? The legendary John Carew only joined Stoke towards the end of his amazing career, and it was only on loan after he was struggling to get a game for Aston Villa. He did alright, and joined West Ham the following year. After helping Sam Allardyce’s Hammers gain promotion in 2012, he was linked with moves back to Valerenge, or to Inter Milan, but both fell through and he retired in 2013. After that he went into acting (no, seriously) and has been in a few films including Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Danny Pugh

Position: Midfielder

Career path: Manchester United, Leeds, Preston North End, STOKE CITY, Preston North End (loan), Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday (loan), Coventry, Bury, Blackpool, Port Vale.

What Happened Next? Pugh was a journeyman whose stop at Stoke was the longest of his professional career. However he left in 2012 and has since played for a variety of clubs. The Mancunian retired in 2018 to become a coach at Port Vale (where he had been a player-coach for a while) and he even had a spell as caretaker manager, before leaving the club in May 2021.

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