Football Features

What happened next? Barcelona’s last ‘Europa League’ XI – and the Celtic side who eliminated them

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 10:10, 16 February 2022

Barcelona are about to play Napoli in their first Europa League game since March 2004 when they drew 0-0 with Celtic.

Back then it was also Joan Laporta’s first season as Club President and the Blaugrana were undergoing an overhaul after years of financial corruption had left them on the verge of ruin.

Underperformance had seen them relegated to the UEFA Cup (as it was then called) where they made the round of 16 and faced off against Martin O’Neill’s Celtic side that had been beaten finalists the previous year.

After losing 1-0 at Celtic Park, a match where they had two players sent off, the Blaugrana could only draw 0-0 at Camp Nou and were eliminated from the competition.

But what happened to the players from that Barcelona side? And the Celtic one, at that? We’ve had a look.


2021/22 Europa League League outright odds with William Hill

  • Borussia Dortmund – 11/2
  • Sevilla – 13/2
  • Barcelona – 8/1
  • Atalanta – 9/1
  • West Ham – 12/1

All odds accurate at the time of writing. You must be 18 or over to gamble. For more information, visit begambleaware.org


Barcelona

Víctor Valdés

Goalkeeper

Barcelona appearances: 536

Career path: Barcelona, Manchester United, Standard Liege (loan), Middlesbrough

What Happened Next? Valdés went on to establish himself as one of the very best goalkeepers in the world and won countless trophies including three Champions Leagues and a threepeat in La Liga too.

A knee injury ruined the end of his time in Catalunya and his subsequent club spells were miserable exercises in failure. Went into youth coaching where he proved perhaps a bit too fiery to make it.

Michael Reiziger

Right-back

Barcelona appearances: 255

Career path: Ajax, Milan, Barcelona, Middlesbrough, PSV

What Happened Next? Barcelona was one of the last stops of Reiziger’s long career and he followed it up with mediocre spells with Middlesbrough and PSV. He went into youth coaching and rejoined Ajax in 2017 as youth team coach. He is currently assistant coach with the first-team.

Oleguer

Centre-back

Barcelona appearances: 175

Career path: Barcelona, Ajax

What Happened Next? Oleguer’s football was no match for his politics and philosophy. He played his part in Barcelona’s ascension to world power under Frank Rijkaard but Pep Guardiola shipped him out to Ajax where he spent three average seasons.

Carles Puyol

Centre-back

Barcelona appearances: 593

Career path: Barcelona

What Happened Next? Puyol looked like a cult hero when Celtic dumped Barcelona out. The Catalan defender continued to improve and became a club legend under both Rijkaard and Guardiola, as well as a key part of the greatest Spanish team ever, winning Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. Injuries slowed him down and forced a retirement so he just missed out on a second Treble, but he remains a colossal figure in Catalunya and a club ambassador and sporting agent.

Phillip Cocu

Left-back

Barcelona appearances: 292

Career path: AZ, Vitesse, PSV, Barcelona, PSV, Al Jazira

What Happened Next? The Dutch legend left Barcelona at the end of this season and had one final adventure in that iconic PSV side containing Park Ji-Sung and Mark Van Bommel. He went into management and found great success, winning three titles in five seasons as PSV manager. He was last coaching Derby where he got sacked in 2020.

Gabri

Midfielder

Barcelona appearances: 194

Career path: Barcelona, Ajax, Umm Salal, FC Sion, Lausanne-Sport

What Happened Next? The Sergi Roberto of his day, injuries wrecked Gabri’s chance to become a legend and he left Barcelona in 2006. A brief spell at Ajax was successful and he spent the rest of his time moving around Europe. He moved into coaching and has been managing smaller clubs in Catalunya ever since (currently boss of Lleida Esportiu).

Xavi

Midfielder

Barcelona appearances: 767

Career path: Barcelona, Al Sadd

What Happened Next? Where to begin? Xavi established himself as one of the greatest central midfielders in the history of football during his time at Barcelona and with Spain, dominating world football between 2008 and 2013 to a degree no one has since Pelé and Zito for Santos and Brazil between 1958 and 1963.

A true ideologue and the embodiment of Barcelona’s style, he was the heartbeat of perhaps the greatest club side and the greatest international side the game has ever seen at the same time.

Xavi left Barcelona after his second Treble in 2015, spending years in Qatar as a player and coach before returning this season in the club’s hour of need, and is currently trying to bring about the third era of Barcelona’s Cruyffist project, following in the footsteps of the Dutchman, Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.

Gerard

Midfielder

Barcelona appearances: 135

Career path: Valencia, Alaves (loan), Barcelona, Monaco, Recreativo Huelva

What Happened Next? Injuries stifled Gerard’s career at Barcelona and he left the club in 2005 for short spells elsewhere. He retired in 2011 and soon went into management with the Catalan national side and even coached Barcelona B from 2015-2018.

Luis Garcia

Winger

Barcelona appearances: 38

Career path: Barcelona, Valladolid (loan), Toledo (loan), Tenerife (loan), Valladolid (loan), Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Atlético Madrid, Racing Santander, Panathinaikos, Puebla, UNAM, Atlético Kolkata, Central Coast Mariners

What Happened Next? A true journeyman, Luis Garcia left Barcelona in 2004 for his longest spell at a club where he helped Liverpool win the Champions League and FA Cup. He left and had a decent two year joint back in Spain with Atleti before ending his career with a series of continent-hopping spells with various clubs. He retired in 2016.

Ronaldinho

Winger

Barcelona appearances: 207

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

What Happened Next? The Living Legend himself. Ronaldinho lifted Barcelona up off the floor and helped make them the best club in the world, bringing joy back to not only Catalunya but the whole world too. At a time when the game was all pace and power, the smiling Brazilian was a shining light in the darkness.

Of course the brightest flames can never burn the longest, and decline set in soon after the 2006 Champions League win. He left Barcelona in 2008 and had a joyous tour of various clubs, spreading footballing love wherever he went. He retired in 2015 but won a prison futsal tournament in Paraguay in 2020 after getting arrested for entering the country with a fake passport. He scored five goals and assisted six in an 11-2 win in the final. He was released from prison a few months later.

Luis Enrique

Striker

Barcelona appearances: 300

Career path: Sporting Gijón, Real Madrid, Barcelona

What Happened Next? The man with the iron lungs, Luis Enrique retired at the end of the 2003/04 season, so this draw was actually his last European match as a player! He began coaching in 2008, first with Barcelona B and then, after a poor spell with Roma, with Celta Vigo. He did well enough there to earn a shot with Barcelona where he coached the legendary M-S-N trident attack to win the Treble in 2015.

Lucho left Barcelona in 2017 and took over Spain a year later. A family tragedy forced him to leave for a while, but he returned and almost won Euro 2020 with a side not many fancied pre-tournament but nevertheless turned in many great displays. With Lucho at the helm and a talented generation coming through, look out for Spain at the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024!

Celtic

David Marshall

Goalkeeper

What Happened Next? Celtic’s hero of the tie came on at half-time in the first leg and repeatedly denied Barcelona with a string of miraculous saves. He then went on a tour of clubs south of the border, notably playing over 250 games for Cardiff. Currently with QPR.

John Kennedy

Centre-back

What Happened Next? A knee injury curtailed Kennedy’s promising career so he went into coaching. He is currently assistant manager at Celtic.

Stanislav Varga

Centre-back

What Happened Next? Stan The Man gave Celtic his final peak years before moving south for quick spells at Sunderland and Burnley. He retired in 2008.

Jackie McNamara

Centre-back

What Happened Next? McNamara left Celtic a year after this incredible result and following a poor spell in England with Wolves returned to Scotland for brief spells at Aberdeen, Falkirk and Partick Thistle. He had spells in management with Partick, Dundee and York and is now a consultant for Dunfermline Athletic.

Didier Agathé

Wing-back

What Happened Next? Didier Agathé gave it all to Celtic but was released in 2006. He ended up playing briefly for Martin O’Neill again with Aston Villa before a final spell back in Reunion playing for JS Saint-Pierroise.

Neil Lennon

Midfielder

What Happened Next? Lennon left Celtic in 2007 before brief spells with Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers. He had a tremendous spell as Celtic manager, winning three straight titles. He was less impressive with Bolton and Hibernian, but a dramatic return to Celtic in 2019 delivered two more titles before he was sacked a year ago.

Stephen Pearson

Midfielder

What Happened Next? Pearson enjoyed a journeyman career that included a long spell with Derby County and two different spells with two different clubs in India.

Stilyan Petrov

Midfielder

What Happened Next? Celtic’s other Stan The Man was an absolute dynamo and a club legend when he left in 2006 to join Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa. There he became captain and a club icon before having to leave the game he loved due to a battle with leukaemia. These days he is spearheading Player 4 Player, an initiative to help players after retirement.

Alan Thompson

Winger

What Happened Next? The tie’s only goalscorer, Thompson was a feature of Celtic’s iconic Champions League nights. He left in 2007 for brief spells with Leeds and Hartlepool before retiring in 2008. He has been coaching around various clubs since then.

Chris Sutton

Striker

What Happened Next? Celtic was Sutton’s final serious club. Like many he left in 2006 for brief spells south of the border. He retired in 2012 and is now a pundit for BT Sport.

Henrik Larsson

Striker

What Happened Next? Larsson so impressed Barcelona that he joined them a few months after this game. There he fought through a cruciate ligament injury to help the Blaugrana become the best team in the world including his incredible match-winning turn off the bench in the 2006 Champions League final. Moved back home to Sweden, had a nice loan with Manchester United, and retired in 2013. Didn’t really cut it as a manager but was most recently seen on Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff at Barcelona.