17th May 2006. FC Barcelona were taking on Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League Final. While this was the Spanish club’s 5th final, Arsenal had reached the grandest stage in club football for the first time. Barcelona eventually ended up 2-1 winners winning their second Champions League title starting an era of dominance. There were some absolute legends on display that night and we decided to find out what those 22 players are up to now.
Victor Valdes- Valdes went on to achieve great things with FC Barcelona winning 2 more UCL titles in 2009 and 2011. He also won 6 League titles with Barca and 2 Copa Del Reys. One of the most decorated goalkeepers in history, Valdes’ career hit a roadblock last season when he fell out with Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal. Unable to displace United number 1 De Gea and after being isolated, he was recently signed by newly promoted Middlesbrough.
Oleguer Presas- Not everyone’s career lifted off after 2006. Presas courted controversy when he was accused of assaulting a policeman. Eventually, after surgery kept him out of the side, he moved to Ajax in 2008. After being released by Ajax in 2011, he turned to political writing. He is a supporter of Catalonian rights.
Rafael Marquez- Marquez had a highly successful career at Barcelona forming effective partnerships with Milito and then Puyol even after the departure of Rijkaard. A stalwart of Mexican football, he’s currently plying his trade at Atlas in Mexico, the club he made his debut with.
Carles Puyol- Carles Puyol is one of the greatest central defenders and one team men to ever play the game. He’s also one of the most successful captains having an illustrious career for club and country which involved winning a historic treble along with the World Cup and UEFA Euro. After retiring in 2014, he was appointed as the assistant of Andoni Zubizarreta, the director of football at Barcelona. He resigned last year but still maintains close ties with the club.
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst- After playing in every single UCL match that season, he left at the end of the 2006-07 season joining Feyenoord. He’s currently the manager of the Dutch club.
Edmilson- Another one of those players who failed to make a major mark. He left Barcelona after a disappointing season and ended his career at Ceara, a club back in his native country of Brazil.
Deco- Deco is one of the most famous players to play the game from Portugal. He had a disappointing spell at Chelsea after leaving Barcelona before ending his career in Brazil in 2013. Most recently he was a pundit for the SONY network during EURO 2016. He’s also an ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Mark Van Bommel- He left Barcelona after winning the UCL for Bayern Munich where he was appointed as the first non-German captain. He retired in 2013 after a stint at PSV Eindhoven. He’s been working on earning his coaching badges and he is the assistant of the Saudi Arabian National Team as he told fifa.com.
Ludovic Giuly- It is safe to say that winning the UCL has been the biggest moment of Guily’s career. Still playing at the age of 40, he finds himself at fourth tier Monts d’Or Azergues in France.
Ronaldinho- Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. After a highly successful career with Barcelona, he had a stint with Milan before moving back to Brazil where he last appeared in 2015 for Fluminense. He most recently represented Team Goa in the Premer Futsal tournament in India.
Samuel Eto’o- The Cameroonian has the distinct honour of winning the treble with two different clubs in two consecutive seasons with Barcelona and Inter Milan. He had stints in Russia, Italy and England. He’s currently playing in Turkey for Antalyaspor where he was even made interim manager till Jose Morais took over in January this year.
Jens Lehmann- Lehmann was sent off in the 2006 Final and eventually left Arsenal in 2008. Apart from being the ambassador of Power-Child Campus South Africa, he’s also been working on earning his coaching badges.
Emmanuel Eboue- Eboue had left Arsenal for Galatasaray in 2011, but a move to Sunderland saw him return to the Premier League. However, he was banned from all football-related activity in March this year for failing to pay an agent.
Kolo Toure- Toure was one of the many Arsenal players to make the move from the Emirates to the Etihad. After spending time with Manchester City and Liverpool, Toure recently sealed a move to Scottish Champions Celtic.
Sol Campbell- After leaving Arsenal, Campbell only really found some joy at Portsmouth. He turned to politics intending to run for Mayor of London, however, he was chosen as the candidate.
Ashley Cole- Cole is one of the best fullbacks to play in the Premier League enjoying a lot of success with Chelsea after leaving Arsenal. Currently, he plays for LA Galaxy in the MLS alongside Steven Gerrard.
Robert Pires- An Arsenal legend, the UCL Final was his last game for the club. He most recently played for FC Goa in the Indian Super League. He was released by the Indian franchise and announced his retirement earlier this year.
Gilberto Silva- Gilberto left Arsenal two years later and eventually retired in 2015 after two years without a club. He’s been serving as the technical director of Panathinaikos since May this year.
Cesc Fabregas- The highly rated youngster went on to captain Arsenal before returning to hometown club Barcelona. He currently plays for Chelsea where he won the League in his first season.
Alexander Hleb- Hleb joined 2006 UCL Final opponents Barcelona after leaving Arsenal. He’s had a string of clubs since then without any real success. Currently, he plays for Belarusian club Bate Borisov.
Freddie Ljungberg- He left Arsenal in 2007 and most recently found himself playing for Mumbai in the ISL. He’s currently the coach of Arsenal U-16s.
Thierry Henry- An absolute legend and one of the greatest to ever represent Arsenal. He ended his career with New York Red Bulls in the MLS. He currently appears as a pundit on Sky Sports.