It’s rare for such contrasts to be contained within the career of a footballer – but it does happen. Each of the 12 players on this list played for the winning side in a Champions League final, and have also also been relegated from the Premier League – so sadly there’s no room for Euro benchwarmers like Jonathan Greening, Bojan or Darren Fletcher.
It could have been worse, too: Edgar Davids holds the distinction of winning the Champions League with Ajax and being relegated from the entire Football League with Barnet. So at least there’s that…
Nwankwo Kanu (Ajax 1995/West Brom 2006)
‘King Kanu’ was integral to Ajax’s 1995 Champions League success. He scored a spectacular diving header to open the scoring in the Dutch side’s quarter-final win over Dinamo Zagreb, and came off the bench in the final to help the Amsterdam giants to a famous 1-0 win over Milan.
Eleven years later, however, it was an altogether different story. The Nigerian’s wastefulness in front of goal contributed to a miserable season for West Brom, who were relegated with two games to spare. The highs and lows continued at Kanu’s next club Portsmouth where, incredibly, he won the FA Cup before suffering back-to-back relegations from the Premier League and Championship.
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United 2008/QPR 2015)
Harry Redknapp looked to have pulled off a wheeler-dealer bargain in 2014 after convincing Ferdinand to join newly-promoted QPR. The former Manchester United man had won 14 trophies during his 12 years at Old Trafford, including the 2008 Champions League, and was seen as the ideal man to marshal Rangers’ ramshackle defence.
But Ferdinand was a shadow of his former self, battling the personal tragedy of losing his wife Rebecca to cancer. Redknapp tried out a variety of formations to try to accommodate Ferdinand’s fading talents, but to no avail. The ex-West Ham chief resigned that season and QPR finished bottom, shipping 10 more goals than any other side that term. Ferdinand retired that summer.
Nicky Butt (Manchester United 1999/Newcastle 2009)
Butt was a dependable squad player under Sir Alex Ferguson, but Roy Keane’s suspension meant he started Manchester United’s memorable 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final. Butt won 10 major trophies during his time at Old Trafford, but left for Newcastle in 2004 in search of first-team football.
It proved to be a difficult transition, though, with injury and the sudden sacking of manager Sir Bobby Robson curtailing Butt’s initial impact on Tyneside. Newcastle were in terminal decline by the time he returned to contention, culminating in their relegation from the Premier League in 2009. Butt played on for another season, though, helping the Magpies return to the top flight before hanging up his boots.
Fabrizio Ravanelli (Juventus 1996/Middlesbrough 1997, Derby 2002)
Ravanelli scored five goals for Juventus on route to Champions League glory in 1996, including one in the final against Ajax. But that summer he swapped Turin for Teesside and newly-promoted Middlesbrough, in a move few saw coming.
The fact Boro were paying Ravanelli a reported £42,000-a-week helped, of course, but the White Feather was no freeloader and scored 31 goals in all competitions that season. Boro reached the League Cup and FA Cup finals but ended up losing both and, to make matters worse, were relegated on the final day. Though Ravanelli initially vowed to stay and gain promotion from the First Division, he left two games into the season for the significantly sunnier Marseille.
The not-so-Fab Ravanelli curse struck again when he signed for Derby in 2001, and the Rams were relegated at the end of his first season.
Michele Padovano (Juventus 1996/Crystal Palace 1999)
Padovano had carved out a journeyman striker’s career before Marcelo Lippi plucked him from obscurity to back up Ravanelli and Gianluca Vialli at Juventus. He certainly proved his worth, netting the decisive goal in Juve’s quarter-final win over Real Madrid as well as a penalty in the Bianconeri’s 1996 Champions League Final shootout victory over Ajax.
The Italian’s European pedigree was enough to convince newly-promoted Crystal Palace that they should shell out £1.7m to bring him to Selhurst Park in the summer of 1998. Padovano struggled to adjust to the demands of the English top flight, though, scoring once in 12 outings for a Palace side that ended the season bottom and on the brink of administration. He left for Metz the following summer.
Steve Finnan (Liverpool 2005/Portsmouth 2010)
Finnan holds the remarkable record of having played in the World Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of the English league football and the Conference – but that’s only the half of it.
The Irishman is also among the select few to experience the joy of Champions League success and Premier League relegation. Finnan was part of the Liverpool side that lifted the famous Champions League trophy in 2005, and also in the Reds’ starting XI for the 2007 final they lost to Milan.
After a short spell in Spain with Espanyol, he returned to England with Portsmouth in 2010. They were relegated that season, though, with Finnan’s final game as a professional coming in that season’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.
NEXT: A three-time winner goes down – and someone finally does it in the right order