A 20-year-old Ronaldo took centre stage as Barcelona met Paris Saint-Germain in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in Rotterdam, the Brazilian getting the only goal from the penalty spot just before half-time – a personal highlight in a season in which he scored 47 times in 49 games. Nearly two decades later, two less celebrated members of that Barcelona side are gearing up for a reunion in the UEFA Champions League.
Twice recipient of the Ballon d’Or, ‘Il Fenomeno’ (the Phenomenon) hit 62 goals in 98 matches for Brazil, and sparkled in Europe with PSV, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan. At Madrid, he famously received a standing ovation from Manchester United fans after one hat-trick at Old Trafford. He retired in 2011 and, now 40, co-owns a sports marketing company and has a stake in US soccer franchise Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
2 Iván de la Peña
The graceful midfielder had just turned 21 when he lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup but he left Barça the following year for Lazio, where he won the same trophy in 1999 and also sustained a serious knee injury. Following loan spells with Marseille and Barcelona, he had nine seasons with Espanyol, claiming a Spanish Cup and reaching the 2007 UEFA Cup final, before hanging up his boots in 2011. Briefly assistant to Luis Enrique at Roma, De La Peña now works as a footballers’ agent in Barcelona.
The reliable left-back represented Spain at four major tournaments and spent nine years with Barcelona before seeing out his career at Atlético Madrid. After retiring he turned his hand to coaching, first working in Barcelona’s youth set-up before taking over at Recreativo de Huelva and later Almería. He is currently a pundit on Catalan television and turns out for Barcelona’s veterans.
4 Albert Ferrer
Along with Josep Guardiola and Hristo Stoichkov, the only 1992 European champion to win the Cup Winners’ Cup. ‘Chapi’ also collected five Liga titles, two Spanish Cups and two UEFA Super Cups in a glorious decade with his home-town club. A shorter stint ensued at Chelsea, where he picked up another UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup. Having retired in 2003, he has coached Dutch team Vitesse and Spanish sides Córdoba and Mallorca, and does occasional punditry work in Spain and England.
5 Luís Figo
Ballon d’Or winner in 2000, FIFA World Player of the Year the next year, UEFA Champions League winner 12 months later – Figo was never short of success in a career that started with Sporting CP and took in stays at both Madrid and fierce rivals Barcelona (winning two Liga titles with each). The former Portugal winger ended up at Inter and has held various ambassadorial roles at San Siro since finishing his playing days in 2009.
6 Josep Guardiola
‘Pep’ rose through Barcelona’s youth ranks to land six Liga championships, one European Cup, the Cup Winners’ Cup and two Copa del Reys between 1990 and 2001, winding down abroad before hanging up his boots in 2006. Capped 47 times by Spain, he has eclipsed all that as a coach. His glorious four-season reign with the Catalan giants yielded 14 trophies, including two UEFA Champions League crowns and, after a 12-month break, he amassed seven trophies in three seasons at Bayern München before taking over at Manchester City.
7 Luis Enrique
One of an elite band of players to represent both Real Madrid and Barcelona (three of the 33 figured in this match), the prolific midfielder plundered over 100 domestic goals, winning the Liga and Copa del Rey with Madrid before securing both trophies twice during an eight-year sojourn at Camp Nou. A 62-time Spanish international, Guardiola’s successor as Barcelona B coach held the reins at Roma and Celta Vigo before making a triumphant return to Barça in 2014.
The Gijon native spent the bulk of his centre-back career with Barcelona. After hanging up his boots with Basque outfit Alavés, he returned to his Asturian roots to take up coaching and began working his way up the ladder of his boyhood club Sporting Gijón, assuming the role of assistant, reserve-team coach and, since 2014, head coach. He steered the cash-strapped side back to the top flight in his first full season, subsequently helping them remain in the Liga. He remains a close friend of Luis Enrique, a former team-mate at Sporting as well as Barcelona.
9 Fernando Couto
The first Portuguese footballer to make 100 international appearances, Couto was a highly accomplished centre-half who secured league titles in Portugal, Italy and Spain. A product of Porto, he also landed the 1994/95 UEFA Cup with Parma and a subsequent Cup Winners’ Cup with Lazio. Senior national-team honours eluded him, though, and Couto retired with 110 caps after Portugal’s UEFA EURO 2004 final defeat (he was an unused sub). He has since worked as a director of football and assistant coach at Braga.
10 Vítor Baía
The goalkeeper acquired 31 winners’ medals over 18 years as a professional, but scooped the biggest prize of all under José Mourinho in the 2004 UEFA Champions League final – 12 months after beating Celtic in the UEFA Cup final – to write his name into Porto legend. He made 406 top-flight outings for the Dragons across two stints, either side of two and a half years at Barça. He accrued ten Liga championships, five domestic cups and eight Super Cups in Portugal. Baía hung up his gloves in 2007 and is presently a television pundit.
11 Gheorghe Popescu
A force field for defences throughout a career spanning nearly 20 years, including a 15-year international odyssey – only Dorinel Munteanu and brother-in-law Gheorghe Hagi have more than his 115 caps for Romania. Popescu won silverware with Steaua, PSV, Barcelona and Galatasaray, where he converted the penalty that clinched the UEFA Cup in 2000. A veteran of three FIFA World Cups and two EUROs, he finally quit playing in 2003. Popescu worked as an agent yet was convicted of money laundering and tax evasion in 2014.
Other snap shots
- Maradona’s Napoli reign supreme, 1989
- When Benfica beat Mourinho’s Porto
- When Celtic got the better of Barcelona
- Barcelona sink Arsenal’s ‘Invicibles’
- When Valencia got the better of Barça
- When Paris beat Barcelona’s dream team
- Trezeguet sets up Juve for Madrid win
- When Monaco stunned mighty Madrid
- Barcelona silence Madrid at the Bernabéu
- Ronaldo’s Old Trafford standing ovation
- Liverpool’s Istanbul heroes