One whole decade ago, AC Milan were the defending European champions and were favourites to retain their title. They headed to Spain to defend a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead they had gotten in the first leg against Deportivo La Coruna. However, on this night, Deportivo shocked the world and booked a semi final place with a stunning 4-0 victory over a side containing Maldini, Pirlo, Shevchenko and many more. Here’s what has happened to the men who pulled off this shock…
1. Jose Molina (Goalkeeper)
Goalkeeper Molina had already fought back from testicular cancer the previous year and made a number of crucial saves to deny Milan a key points of the game. He continued as Deportivo’s first choice goalkeeper until 2006 when his contract expired and he was allowed to leave for Levante in his hometown of Valencia. He was first choice for the 2006-07 season as Levante stayed in La Liga but he chose to retire in the summer of 2007 from playing. Molina began his coaching career with former club Villarreal in 2009, working his way through the C and B teams before being appointed head coach in December 2011. He only lasted until March 2012 as Villarreal slumped towards relegation that season. Molina is currently coaching the Getafe B team and has done so since 2013.
2. Manuel Pablo (Right Back)
A loyal servant to the club, Pablo had battled back from a horrible leg injury to regain his place at right back for this game and he did not disappoint, turning in a fine performance. He remained the club’s first choice right back, proving himself to dependable and providing some consistency as the club struggled in recent years. As of the time of writing, Pablo has amassed an incredible 462 appearances for the club with only 3 goals and has appeared in the majority of Deportivo games this season at the grand age of 38.
3. Enrique Romero (Left Back)
Another loyal servant to the club, Romero was a solid left back who – like Manuel Pablo – could be relied upon to perform. He continued as the club’s first choice full back but he was eventually ousted by the emerging Joan Capdevila and left the club in 2006 for Real Betis. He only lasted a season at Betis and decided to retire in the summer of 2007.
4. Noureddine Naybet (Centre Back)
Another of the dependable defenders was Moroccan Naybet, who almost signed with Manchester United in 1999 but concerns over his knee prevented that from happening. Nevertheless Naybet did eventually get his move to England but it was in the summer of 2004 to Tottenham where he was initially a key member of the side but the departure of Jacques Santini changed that. New manager Martin Jol went with Ledley King and Michael Dawson at centre back while Naybet was used as experience from which they could learn. He left Spurs in 2006 and retired from playing. He has made the most appearances for the Moroccan national team and was last seen as Henri Michel’s assistant during his spell in charge.
6. Mauro Silva (Defensive Midfield/Captain)
Captain Silva was the man who held everything together for Deportivo and his experience was vital for the Spanish side against Milan. A World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994, Silva only played for one more season before retiring in the summer of 2005 after 369 league appearances for Deportivo in 13 years with the club.
7. Walter Pandiani (Striker)
Never truly the undisputed starter up top, Pandiani was still a crucial part of Deportivo’s success in the early 2000s. He opened the scoring against Milan after 5 minutes and was booked late on. Pandiani had a reputation for being hot-headed and by January 2005 he was no longer wanted at Deportivo so he left for Birmingham City, initially on loan then permanently in the summer. His time at Birmingham was a disappointment and he left in January 2006 for a return to Spain with Espanyol, firing them to the UEFA Cup final in 2007. He left that summer for Osasuna where he was a key component of their attack but became more notorious for a spat he had with one Cristiano Ronaldo during a match with Real Madrid (Ronaldo even said that Pandiani may have “a screw loose”). Pandiani left Osasuna in 2011 for a return to Espanyol for a season. His recent spells with clubs have coincided with where his son Nico plays – Villarreal, Atletico Baleares and current club Miramar Misiones.
8. Sergio Gonzalez (Midfielder)
The hard working and reliable Gonzalez was a key player in the midfield but was replaced late on against Milan by Aldo Duscher. Gonzalez continued to be a key component for the Deportivo midfield long after the Milan game, never making less than 28 league appearances a season. He finally left the club after nearly a decade in 2010 for Levante. He was a key player in Levante’s start to the season but injuries soon caught up with him and he retired in 2011. Gonzalez was hired as assistant coach of the Espanyol B team in 2013 before he took over the reigns earlier this year.
14. Jorge Andrade (Centre Back)
A big money signing from Porto, Andrade was a key player at the heart of the defence when fit for Deportivo. A Portuguese international, Andrade would be sent off in the semi final against Porto for a friendly kick at former team mate Deco. He was allowed to leave Deportivo in 2007 for Italian giants Juventus but his time in Italy was marred by serious injuries to his knee and he only played five times in total for the club. He was released by Juventus in April 2009 and, after unsuccessful trials with Malaga in Spain and Toronto FC in the MLS, he retired.
18. Victor (Winger)
A product of the Real Madrid academy, Victor was booked after 67 minutes against Milan. A key component on the right wing, Victor was often the creator of Deportivo goals and impressed in the Champions League. He remained at the club until the summer of 2006 when his contract expired. He moved to Greece to join Panathinaikos that summer but he was rarely used and returned to Spain in October 2007 to join Elche. He stayed with the club until the summer of 2008 when he decided to retire at just 32. He joined Getafe in 2010 as assistant to former team mate Michel before moving to Sevilla with him in 2012. He is currently assisting Michel at Greek side Olympiacos.
19. Albert Luque (Winger)
Another big money signing, Luque added the crucial third goal just before half time before being replaced by Fran Gonzalez in the second half. Luque was a star of the Deportivo team and continued his impressive form the following season. This earned him a big money move to English side Newcastle United in the summer of 2005 but unfortunately for Luque, his career stalled as injuries, poor form and few opportunities turned his £9 million fee into a bad joke. He left Newcastle for Ajax in Holland in the summer of 2007 but, after a promising start, he was frozen out after a bust up with team mate Luis Suarez. He left Ajax in the summer of 2008 for a return to Spain with Malaga, first on loan before joining permanently. He started promisingly for Malage before dropping out of contention altogether and being released in January 2011. He has since retired.
21. Juan Carlos Valeron (Midfielder)
A true Deportivo legend, Valeron scored the second goal on the night and was replaced by Djalminha in stoppage time. A classy playmaker, Valeron was central to everything Deportivo did going forward but his career was stalled between 2006 and 2008 by serious knee injuries. He eventually regained his place in the first team, continuing to run the show for Deportivo but he could not keep them up in 2011. He stayed loyal though before finally leaving the club in 2013 for a return to first club and current side Las Palmas where he is still playing regularly at 38.
13. Gustavo Munua (Goalkeeper)
An unused substitute against Milan, Uruguayan Munua was mostly an understudy during his time at Deportivo. He backed up Molina until his departure in 2006 before spending most of his time losing out to Israeli Dudu Aouate which evetually led to a bust up in 2008. Munua evetually left in the summer of 2009 for Malaga, starting all their games as they narrowly avoided relegation. He left for Levante in the summer of 2010 and was the undisputed first choice during his three years there. However, he left under a bit of a cloud after being accused (with others) of a lack of effort. He joined Fiorentina in the summer of 2013 but rarely played and recently rejoined his first club Nacional in Uruguay.
9. Diego Tristan (Striker)
A deadly striker when on song, Tristan was an unused substitute against Milan. Tristan spent much of the rest of his time at Deportivo struggling to provide the same threat he did during his initial seasons at the club and he was allowed to leave in 2006. He rejoined previous side Mallorca but his return was a huge bust as he didn’t score and was released in January 2007. He joined Italian side Livorno that summer but flopped there too scoring just once. He then moved to English side West Ham in October 2008 where his goal record improved a little (3 in the league) but he was still ultimately a bust. He returned to Spain in the summer of 2009 joining Cadiz where he regained some form, hitting 8 goals in the league but they were relegated and Tristan retired in the summer of 2010.
10. Fran Gonzalez (Winger)
A product of the youth system at Deportivo, Fran scored the fourth goal after coming on for Luque in the second half. A one club man, Fran nearly joined Real Madrid in 1995 but could not leave Deportivo. In total, he racked up more than 600 appearances for Deportivo from his debut in 1991 until his retirement alongside Mauro Silva in the summer of 2005.
15. Joan Capdevila (Left Back)
Another unused substitute, Capdevila was a regular for Deportivo but struggle to truly dislodge Romero from his starting spot at left back. He eventually succeeded however and was the undisputed first choice until 2007 when he joined Villarreal. At Villarreal he impressed and established himself as the club’s and Spain’s first choice left back (winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in the process). He eventually left Villarreal in 2011 for Portuguese giants Benfica. His time in Portugal was not successful as he only played 11 games before returning to Spain after only a season to rejoin first and current club Espanyol.
16. Djalminha (Attacking Midfielder)
A late substitute for Valeron, Djalminha was on the fringes of the first team in 2004 in no small part due to his temper which had caused a bust up with boss Javier Irureta. A key component of Deportivo’s 2000 title win, he would leave the club in the summer of 2004 for Mexican side America. He would only play 5 times for America before retiring later that year.
23. Aldo Duscher (Midfielder)
Notorious for being the man who broke David Beckham’s foot in 2002, Duscher was a late substitute for Gonzalez. Duscher was a long time back up to Mauro Silva but once the Brazilian retired he was a key player in the Deportivo midfield. He was allowed to leave Deportivo in the summer of 2007 for Racing Santander where he helped them earn a UEFA Cup place. His performances also earned him a move to Sevilla in the summer of 2008 where he spent two years before joining Espanyol. He played little for Espanyol and, after a season on loan in Ecuador with Barcelona, he was released in the summer of 2012. After short spells with Enosis Neon in Cyprus and Veria in Greece, he retired in 2013.
24. Hector Berenguel (Right Back)
Brought in as a back up for Manuel Pablo, Hector was another unused substitute against Milan. He was a solid back up for Deportivo but was allowed to join Mallorca in the summer of 2006. After two solid seasons with Mallorca, Hector retired in the summer of 2008. He spent much of his time post-retirement doing youth coaching in his local area before becoming head coach at Poli Ejido in the summer of 2011. However, the team folded midway through the season due to overwhelming financial difficulties leaving Hector unemployed.
Javier Irureta (Manager)
Brought in from rivals Celta Vigo, Irureta had already guided Deportivo to their first La Liga title in 2000 before masterminding the victory over Milan. He stayed with Deportivo until 2005, leaving alongside Fran and Mauro Silva. He returned to management in the summer of 2006 with Real Betis but did not even see it until the new year as he was sacked after a poor start to the season. He took over at Real Zaragoza in 2008 but lasted barely six weeks as he resigned citing the fact that he had never lost four games in a row before as a manager and didn’t feel that he could stop Zaragoza from going down. He is still out of work.
That is the latest edition of Where Are They Now? Stay tuned for more from The Long Ball soon.