Unlikely Champions League Final Heroes

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Roy Keane observed in his (first) autobiography that it wasn't just 'stars' who captured the imagination in the Champions League but guys 'no one had ever heard of' who did all the right things on the big Champions League nights. Here, we look at the surprising figures whose efforts proved decisive in the Champions League Final.



The 2003 Champions League final in Old Trafford would have been Gianni Brera's dream match. The great Italian football journalist is most famous in these parts for saying that 'the perfect game of football ends 0 - 0', generally regarded up here as the most Italian football comment of all time.

AC Milan and favourites Juventus played out what, to English eyes, was a dreary and cagey 0 - 0 draw. There wasn't even much in the way of chances. Penalties seemed inevitable from a long way out.

Ancelotti, scruffy and unshaven, stood there on the line looking pent up and in need in of a fag, while Lippi, elegant and calm, stood there talking to a colleague, looking remarkably unmoved as he watched his team go down in the shoot-out.

The shootout was a shoddy affair with missed spot kicks all round. AC Milan triumphed 3-2 in no small thanks to the efforts of their unheralded Brazilian goalkeeper. Where Bruce Grobbelar wobbled his legs in 1984, Dida tiptoed off his line. A fair bit off his line. For the final penalty, he was about four yards away from the kicker when the penalty was struck.


Predrag Mijatovic



Probably the most mediocre Madrid side ever to win the Champions League. Barcelona dominated Spanish football for the bulk of the 1990s and Real Madrid went in as underdogs against a Juventus team appearing in their third Champions League final in a row. Their Yugoslav striker Predrag Mijatovic had a ropey enough spell in the Madrid jersey. On 66 minutes, he, somewhat inventively, scooped home the winning goal from about five yards out.




Vladmir Smicer


Smicer was at Anfield for a long time, but during his time there he was often plagued by injury, and he struggled to get a decent run in the first team. He was overshadowed by others even in the context of Liverpool's underachieving side.


However he cemented himself into history for his display in the freakish Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005. Essentially, Smicer was part of a Liverpool team that trounced Milan 3-0 in the second half as the Czech was sprung from the bench at half-time with the game already apparently gone from Liverpool. His speculative shot dipped under Dida's arms and squirted into the top corner of the net, making the game 3 - 2 and really putting the frighteners up Milan. The effect of two goals in two minutes shattered the psyche of the Italian team.


Daniele Massaro


With all their Dutch Masters having moved on, it looked like Milan's dominant period in the early 90s would surely draw to a close. However, with a largely Italian team, plus the talents of Marcel Dessailly, Zvonimir Boban and Dejan Savicevic, they unleashed their most devastating performance yet in a final, smashing the champions of 1992, 4 - 0 in Athens. With Marco Van Basten still out injured and about to officially retire, Daniele Massaro stood up, scoring the opening two goals of the night, sending Milan on their way to a commanding win. He would go to play regularly for Italy in that World Cup, missing a penalty in the final shoot-out.


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