It was a great time to be a Stoke fan in 2011, as our Wembley demolition of Bolton allowed a new generation of fans to experience The Potters in Europe. Though it would end in disappointment at The Mestalla, we did experience a proper Europa League run, playing six different clubs from all quarters of Europe (and parts of Asia).
What happened to the memorable players from those fixtures? It’s a question that could well be asked of some of that Stoke squad (Kenwyne Jones is at Atlanta United, apparently), but we’ll look at some of the guys we faced in Tony Pulis’ one and only European campaign.
Side note, Bunny from Duck mag joined us back in Episode 16 for a trip down memory lane, if you haven’t heard that already, it’s here.
Yoav Ziv – Maccabi Tel Aviv
Contender for greatest piece of slapstick in Britannia Stadium history, Yoav Ziv went down in Potters folklore for the mother of stupid red cards. Already a pantomine villain for his role in getting Cameron Jerome dismissed, Ziv petulantly kicked his boot in frustration. Unfortunately for Ziv, his boot collided with the linesman and he landed himself a red card.
Where is he now? Ziv retired from football this summer, where he has taken the role of First Team Manager at Tel Aviv. According to Wikipedia, this is logistical role rather than what we’d consider a first team manager to be – Jordi Cryuff is Head Coach. However, it’s an odd little backroom set-up, with Steve McClaren also there as a coaching consultant.
Ricardo Quaresma – Besiktas
European journeyman Quaresma treated us to one of the best individual displays we’ve ever seen at Stoke. The Portugese was in scintilating form, pretty much taking the game to us on his own. Although we edged the game 2-1, Quaresma’s display still has us purring now.
Quaresma had been at Barca, Inter and even had four games for Chelsea before his Britannia Stadium apperance. After his spell at Besiktas ended in 2012, he played for Al-Ahli and Porto before returning to the Istanbul club in 2015. He also won Euro 2016, replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in the final against France.
Andreas Wittwer – FC Thun
In case you’re ever asked who scored the first European goal against Stoke in the 21st century, it’s this guy – who grabbed a consolation for FC Thun in our 4-1 second leg win. The left-back, still only 26, made 184 appearances for Thun before joining St. Gallen in 2016.
Ognjen Vukojevic – Dynamo Kiev
Remember Kiev away? Cameron Jerome scoring on his debut, and that utterly heartbreaking last minute free-kick? Well, it was Vukojevic who stuck that free-kick away, denying us a famous win in Kiev.
Vukojevic stayed with Dynamo until 2015, and after having had loans at Spartak Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb and Austria Wein, the former Croatia international retired this year to take up a scouting role in Kiev.
Mehmet Topal – Valencia
Topal’s absolute thunderbastard at The Brit gave Valencia an important first-leg lead to hold onto in our round of 32 clash.
That was Topal’s second and last season in Spain, having been on the fringes of the starting XI throughout most of his spell at Valencia. He moved to Fenerbache for €4.5m, where he’s still playing. Topal has been a mainstay of the Turkish national side, playing every game in their Euro 2016 campaign, and collecting 69 caps.
Jonas – Valencia
Jonas scored the goal at The Mestalla, which killed the tie and sent a spirited, if under-strength, Stoke side home.
Since then, Jonas’ career has really kicked on. With a modest 36 in 113 for Valencia, he left for Benfica in 2014. He’s scored 69 in 83 for the Portugese club, and was top scorer and player of the season in Portugal for 2015-16. Along the way, he’s picked up a few caps for Brazil and three Portugese league titles. He’ll be facing off against Man United in this season’s Champions League.
Some more of the famous names we came up against included Andriy Yarmelenko, the Ukrainian winger who’s name always seem to crop up in Stoke fans’ conversations when the transfer window is open. Also, the Kiev game at The Britannia was the final European away game that Andriy Shevchenko, one of Europe’s greatest ever strikers, played in.
Next week, we’ll be trying to find out what happened to Europa League legends Wilson Palacios, Salif Diao and Matthew Upson.
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