Where Are They Now? 96-97 Cup Winner's Cup Team.

96-97 CWC TEAM

Long before the club won their three UEFA Champions league trophies in the last 20 years, the club’s first European ever UEFA trophy was the discontinued Cup Winners’ Cup. It is true that Barça had won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup on three separate occasions, those trophies were not under the affiliation of UEFA at the time.  The club would win a total of 4 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups. The first cup was won in 1979 followed by winning a second one in 1982 with the final taking place in the Camp Nou that year. The third cup was won in 1989 during Cruyff’s second season as manager of FC Barcelona. May 14, 1997 is the date that FC Barcelona won their fourth and final Cup Winners’ Cup after they defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the Feyenoord Stadion in Rotterdam. Ronaldo’s penalty in the 37th minute was the only goal of the game. The manager that day was the legendary English manager Bobby Robson who would only manage Barcelona for the 1996-1997 season with Jose Mourinho by his side as his assistant. 13 years have since passed and the cup was abolished by UEFA following the 1989-1999 season.  We now look at where life took  the players and coaches after their time at the club had come to an end.

Long before the club won their three UEFA Champions league trophies in the last 20 years, the club’s first European ever UEFA trophy was the discontinued Cup Winners’ Cup. It is true that Barca had won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup on three separate occasions, those trophies were not under the affiliation of UEFA at the time.  The club would win a total of 4 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups. The first cup was won in 1979 followed by winning a second one in 1982 with the final taking place in the Camp Nou that year. The third cup was won in 1989 during Cruyff’s second season as manager of FC Barcelona. May 14, 1997 is the date that FC Barcelona won their fourth and final Cup Winners’ Cup after they defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the Feyenoord Stadion in Rotterdam. Ronaldo’s penalty in the 37th minute was the only goal of the game. The manager that day was the legendary English manager Bobby Robson who would only manage Barcelona for the 1996-1997 season. 

Sir Bobby Robson & Jose Mourinho

robson 7 mou

Mr. Robson had a rich history of coaching in England and abroad. He had managed Fulham, Ipswich Town, England national team, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting CP and Porto before joining FC Barcelona.Although his popularity with the fans regarding the style of football being played was met with mixed reception, he still managed the club to 3 titles and miss out on the league title by a mere 2 points. The team was remembered for some lopsided victories such as defeating Logrones 8-0, but their most memorable victory that season was coming back from being down 3-0 to defeat Atletico Madrid 5-4 in the second leg of the Copa Del Quarter-finals. Mr. Robson would not manage the team the following season as he would be replaced by Louis van Gaal with Mr. Robson get promoted to the position of General Manager. His tenure with the club would cease after the 1997-1998 season and would resume his coaching career by managing PSV Eindhoven for a season before managing Newcastle United from 1999 to 2004. His last involvement with football was being hired as an International football consultant for the Republic of Ireland national team that would end after Ireland failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Sadly, Mr. Robson passed away over a year ago on July 31, 2009 following a long battle with cancer.

His assistant during his time with Porto and FC Barcelona was none other than Jose Mourinho. Mourinho was Robson’s interpretor when Robson was hired as Sporting CP’s manager. Mourinho then impressed Robson with his football intelligence when it came to tactics and followed Robson to Porto and FC Barcelona and was also van Gaal’s assistant when Robson was replaced by van Gaal. He then went to have a successful managerial career after leading Porto to UEFA Cup and Champions league glory in back to back season before managing Chelsea to successive league titles in the Premier League before capturing a treble with Inter last season. He is currently Real Madrid’s manager and although his history with the club was a great one, it has become sour with the fans during his time with Chelsea where the fans taunt Mourinho with the chants “Traductor” which means translator.

We now look at where life took  the players after their time at the club had come to an end.

 

The Starters:

starting 11

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vítor Baía

baia

Vítor Baía is a former Portuguese National team starting keeper and a legend for Porto.  He was signed from Porto for the 1996-1997 season for 800 million pesetas (around 7 million dollars back then) and would start for in all competitions. He would feature in 37 league games , 5 Copa Del Rey Matches (missing the semi-final legs), and 8 out of the 9 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup matches and featured in the first leg of the Spanish Super Copa. After that amazing 4 cups seasons, Louis Van Gaal would replace Bobby Robson as manager and thus benched Baía in favor of Ruud Hesp. He would feature in only 4 games in all competitions the next season and halfway through the following season, was loaned back to Porto on January 15, 1999 during the winter transfer period.

 

He would remain with Porto and be their starting keeper to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in back to back seasons. His manager during that amazing run was Jose Mourinho, who also was Bobby Robson’s assistant in Barcelona. Sadly his time with the club had it share of blunder moments.

Baía retired from the game after the 2006-2007 season and was involved with Porto a the head of Porto's public relations until leaving that post last month.

 

Albert Ferrer

chapi

Albert "Chapi” Ferrer was profiled as part of the 1992 European Cup Champions as the right back for that  team.  He would feature in 29 games for Barcelona in all competitions and started in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final. During that season, he made 18 league appearances, 5 Copa Del Rey appearances, 1 appearance in the Spanish Super Copa in the second leg and made 5 appearances in the UEFA Cup Winners’Cup. Four of those five Cup Winners’Cup matches were starts consisting of both leg of the semi-finals and the final against P.S.G.

 

He would play for one more season with the Blaugrana before joining Chelsea for five years until his retirement in 2003. He currently is a sports commentator for TV3, La Sexta, and has made some appearances on Sky Sports News and Sky’s Revista De La Liga the last few years. He also pens a column for El Mundo Deportivo.

 

Fernando Couto

Cuoto

Fernando Couto is a former Portuguese international defender who was transferred to Barcelona from Parma for 400 million pesetas (almost $3.5 million) for the 96-97 season. He started off his career with Porto and featured for Familicão and Académica Coimbra before establishing himself as a star with Porto. He then transferred to Parma before Barcelona bought him.

 

The center-back featured in 26 league games, 5 appearances in Copa Del Rey where he scored in the second leg of the semi-finals against Las Palmas and making 4 starts in the Cup Winners’ Cup, including the final, and also scored in the second leg of the semis against Fiorentina. Couto would play for another season making 25 appearances in all competitions before being sold to Lazio for 500 million pesetas (almost $4.5 million). Couto would remain with Lazio before returning to Parma for the 05-06 season. He would retire after the 07-08 season at the age of 39. He spent his retirement between his home country Portugal and Italy.  He was officially appointed as S.C. Braga's sporting director.

 

Abelardo

Abelardo

Abelardo was a mainstay on Barcelona’s and the Spanish national team’s defense during the late 90’s. Abelardo joined Barcelona in 1994 after spending 12 years with Sporting Gijon’s youth and first team. He would feature for many seasons as Nadal’s partner in the center back position. He featured in over 30 games for the club in all competitions. He featured in 21 league games, scoring 3 goals and was a substitute in the first leg of the Super Copa and started the second leg. He also started three games in the Copa Del Rey, both leg of the quarterfinals and the final while making 6 appearances in the Cup Winners’ Cup with 5 of them as a starter.

 

The 2001-2002 would be his last season with Barcelona before joining  Deportivo Alavés. He would play one season and then retire because of a knee injury.  During his tenure, Abelardo won 2 league titles, 2 Copa Del Rey titles, 2 Super Copa titles, 1 Copa Catalunya, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.  He also represented Spain in the 1996 and 2000 Euro Cups and the 1994 and 1998 World Cup. After his retirement, he successfully contested his right to receive Social Security benefits because of his knee injury. He was currently managing the Sporting Gijon B squad until he resigned from that position during this past season. He was appointed as the new manager of Candás Club de Fútbol back in May who are in Spain’s third division (Tercera División de España).

 

Sergi Barjuan

Sergi

Sergi is another fine example of FC Barcelona’s youth product coming through the ranks and featuring for the club for many years. Sergi, a left back, was promoted to the first team, after 3 years with Barcelona B team, by Johan Cruyff back in the 93-94 season for a Champions League match against Galatasaray even though he had not featured in a league game with the club. The former Barcelona B player would start in the Champions League final loss to Milan that year. Under Bobby Robson, Sergi appeared in 34 league games, scoring once and started both legs of Super Copa. He also made 6 appearances in the Copa Del Rey competition, 5 as a starter including the final and 7 starts in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

 

After his contract expired in 2002 and the former club captain realized that he was not going to be in the plans of Louis van Gaal, and left the club and joined Atlético Madrid and ended up playing 3 more seasons before finally retiring at the end of the 2004-2005 season. Since he hung up his boots directs his own company marketing: Group Númenor. He has also created their own football academy, SergiCampus for children between the age of six and 15. Sergi is currently the coach of FC Barcelona juvenil B and was a member of the Barcelona’s team in the Spanish indoor football league the past two seasons in which he captained the team to the league title last season.

 

Gheorghe Popescu

Gica

Gica Popescu was coming off disappointing spells with PSV and Tottenham when he was bought in 1995 for 550 million pesetas during Johan Cruyff’s era. He was signed as Ronald Koeman’s replacement in the defense and for his offensive skills. The following season under Robson, Gica, the captain of the team, appeared in 29 league matches, scoring in 4 games and started in both legs of the Super Copa. He also started 4 out of 5 Copa Del Rey games, with his only substitute appearance coming  in the final in extra time and started 8 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup games, scoring in the first leg Quarter-final  against AIK Solna.

 

After that season, Gica was sold to Galatasaray for 700 million pesetas. He would win the UEFA Cup there in 2000 with another former Barcelona player, Gheorghe Hagi, who also happened to be his brother in law. He would go on to play for Lecce, Dinamo Bucarest and Hannover 96 before retiring after the 2002-2003 season. After retiring from football, he became a businessman and founded his own football academy,(Gica Popescu Football Academy) in Craiova. In 2005, he ran against the current president for the Romanian Football Federation presidency, but in the elections held on November 21, 2005, he lost with 102 votes to 187.  In January 2008, he was called before the Romanian National Anti Corruption Agency, being accused of fraud, and money laundry in a file regarding the transfer of 12 footballers from 1999 to 2005. Popescu is one of the 10 agents and club owners against whom the National Anti Corruption Agency decided to start criminal investigation for fraud, evasion and money laundry as well as prejudicing 4 football clubs with the sum of 10 million Euro. He is still a person of interest regarding this investigation. He recently announced investments he is intending to launch, i.e. a bazaar type shopping center [called Doldora Bazaar] in Bucharest, which cost him 10 million Euro which will be a joint project with two other Romanian investors.

 

Josep Guardiola

Guardiola

Another member of the 1992 European Cup Champions, Guardiola would feature in over 50 games for the club during the 96-97 season, starting in the Spanish Super Cup, Copa Del Rey Final and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. He featured in 38 league games that season after starting both legs of the Super Copa. He also made 6 appearances in the Copa Del Rey, 5 of them as a starter including the final. He also appeared in 7 games in the Cup Winners’ Cup, 5 of them as a starter and scored in the second leg of the semi-finals against Fiorentina.

 

Guardiola’s playing career has brought similar results as a manager.  In his first year on the job, Guardiola became the first manager in Spanish football history to win the treble after FC Barcelona won the league, Copa Del Rey and Champions League title during the 2008-2009 season. He became just one of the few to have won the Champions League trophy for the same club as a player and manager. The new season has also brought more trophies with the club first capturing both the Spanish and UEFA Super Cups and then the club’s first ever FIFA Club World Cup intercontinental trophy before retaining the league crown again. He extended his contract with the club for another season.

 

Luís Figo

Figo

Luís Figo is one that hardly needs an introduction. He is fondly remembered as one of the best players that club ever had in the 90’s and was considered one of the best wingers in the game when he played for Barcelona. He was the first signing by Johan Cruyff to follow in the footsteps of Michael Laudrup. He was bought from Sporting Lisbon for 350 million pesetas after some controversy involving Parma and Juventus that was  resulted in law suits being filed in Italy.

 

Under Robson, Figo appeared in 36 leagues matches, scoring 4 goals and started the first leg of the Super Copa. He started 8 Cup Winners’ Cup matches, scoring once against RS Belgrade and also started in 5 Copa Del Matches, scoring in the great 5-4 Quarter-final second leg victory against Atlético Madrid and scoring a brace in the final against Betis, including the game winner in extra time.

 

Sadly, Figo’s departure to Real Madrid after Euro 2000 for $56 million hurt and upset a lot of fans and has become a hated figure for Barcelona fans. After five seasons with Real Madrid, Figo signed for Inter and played for four seasons before calling it a career after last season. Following his retirement, he was appointed ambassador of Inter Milan and was in attendance at the Camp Nou for Barcelona Inter Champions League recently. He also has been a prominent ambassador on the joint Spain-Portugal 2018 World Cup bid.

 

Iván De La Peña

Ivan

Iván de la Peña is one of the most recognized former Barcelona youth players. The midfielder joined the youth setup in 1991 and finally shined in the 96-97 season under Bobby Robson. The Little Buddha would feature in 43 games in all competitions. He featured in 33 league matches, scoring 2 goals and was a substitute in first leg of the Super Copa where he scored the 4th goal of the game. He also started three Cope Del Rey matches, including the final and featured in 6 Cup Winners’ Cup matches, 4 of them as a starter.

 

Sadly his career with the club was cut short when Van Gaal replaced Robson and would transfer to Lazio. He endure a miserable four years where after one season with Lazio, he was loaned to Marseille, and back to Barcelona and then return to Lazio for another season. He then returned to Barcelona in 2002 to play for Espanyol where he currently is the captain of the club following the death of Daniel Jarque in the summer and is currently fighting a battle to be fit for the upcoming league season.

 

Luis Enrique

Lucho

A product of his local side, Real Sporting de Gijón, Luis Enrique starred for the club's youth teams before bursting on to the scene in 1990, before joining Madrid in 1991 as a striker but soon became known as the Santiago Bernabéu's resident utility man - operating mostly as a left-winger or left-back. He would help Spain win the Gold Medal in the 1992 Olympics.  In 1996, he stunned the Merengues by seeing out his contract and moving to Barcelona on a free transfer.  In his first season with Barcelona, he featured in 35 league matches, scoring 17 goals during that magical 96-97 season.  He started both legs of Super Copa and appeared in 7 Copa Del Rey games, 6 of them as a starter including the final. He also started 7 games in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

 

Lucho would remain with the club until his retirement after the 2003-2004season. After the 96-97 season, he would go on to win another Copa Del Rey and two league titles with Barcelona. He spent his retirement participating in Iron Man competitions and played for Barcelona’s team in the Spanish indoor football league. In June of 2008, Luis Enrique was appointed as Guardiola’s replacement as manager of Barça Atlètic team. Although the team failed to gain promotion in his first year there, he succeed in his second season n leading the club to the Segunda División de España for the first time since the late 90’s in a season where the team went through a long unbeaten streak and only lost six times this past season. He extended his contract with the club for another season.

 

Ronaldo

Ronaldo

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1976, Ronaldo joined Barça in 1996 from PSV Eindhoven for $20 million, a record at time until it was surpassed by the transfer of Shearer to Newcastle, playing in their ranks quickly and winning his first international prize, the FIFA World Player award. He was only at the club for one season, but certainly proved his worth, scoring 48 goals in 51 games, the kind of stats you rarely see in the modern game. He appeared in 37 league matches, scoring 34 goals and started the first leg of the Super Copa, scoring a brace. He also started 4 Copa Del Rey games, scoring 8 goals with a hat trick coming in that epic game against Atlético Madrid, but would miss the final to be in South America for Copa America. He also started 7 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup matches, scoring five goals, including the only goal in the final against PSG when he converted his penalty kick in the first half.

 

At only 20 years of age, he looked destined for big things at Barça, but an unfortunate series of episodes involving the Board of Directors and his own agents led to him wanting to go to Inter Milan. At the end of the season, following tough negotiations with FC Barcelona president Josep Lluis Nunez on the renewal of his contract, Ronaldo decided to accept the offer from Inter Milan by paying FC Barcelona $32 million, which was the termination clause of the contract for Ronaldo. He would then go on to play for Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and AC Milan. In December of2008, Ronaldo was officially unveiled to the Corinthian fans where he is still currently playing and has stated that he plans to retire in 2011.

 

The Substitutes:


Amor

Amor

Amor  was also profiled as part of the 1992 European Cup Champions team as one of their best attacking midfielders of that decade for the club. He featured in 37 games for the club in all competitions and, unlike the 1992 European Cup Final, he would not miss the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final due to suspension and would come on as a second half substitute.  He was a member of the FC Barcelona veterans’ indoor squad and was a sports commentator for Telecinco in which he got to commentate on the FIFA Club World Cup Final. His involvement in the media also led to him penning a column on El Mundo Deportivo’s website. He was recently unveiled by new FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell as the club’s new director of youth teams.

 

Pizzi

Pizzi

Juan Antonio Pizzi joined Barcelona from Tenerife in 1996. Born in Santa Fe, Argentina, Pizzi began his club career with Rosario Central and then Mexican club Toluca. He joined Tenerife in 1991 and after one season with Valencia during the 93-94 season, he returned to Tenerife before joining Barcelona. His first season with the club saw him net 16 goals in all competitions. He scored in the first leg of the Super Copa as a starter.  He featured in 4 Copa Del Rey matches, with 3 of them as a starter and scored 5 goals, with one coming in the final to send the game to extra time. However, he is also remembered for scoring the decisive goal in the second leg come from behind victory against Atlético Madrid in the Quarter-finals. He also featured in 33 league games and scored 9 goals that season and made 7 appearances in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with 2 starts, and scored only once against AIK Solna.

 

Pizzi would remain for another season before leaving the club for Argentinean club River Plate. He would later play for Rosario Central, Porto and Villarreal before retiring from the game at the conclusion of the 2001-2002 season. He then began a new career as club manager with Argentinean club Colón de Santa Fé and then Peruvian side Universidad San Martin. He was the manager of the Chilean club Santiago Morning for the 2009-2010 season and currently was appointed club manager of the Chilean side, Club Deportivo Universidad Católica for the upcoming season.

 

Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo

Stoichkov was also profiled as part of the 1992 European Cup Champions team. Following the 1994-1995 season, Hristo went to Parma for an uneventful year and then returned to Barcelona where he would help lead the team capture the Super Copa, Del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup. He started in both legs of the Super Copa, scoring Barcelona's only goal in the second leg loss. He also featured in 4 Copa Del Rey matches, starting 3 games and was one of the substitutes brought on by Robson in the great memorable second leg come from behind victory against Atlético Madrid in the Quarter-finals. He featured in 7 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup matches, starting 5 of them but failed to score and made 22 league appearances where he scored 7 goals.

 

He would play sparingly under van Gaal the following season and would leave the club forever. He would go on to play for CSKA Sofia, Al-Nasr, Kashiwa Reysol, and Chicago Fire before retiring after one year with D.C. United in 2003. Since then, Hristo became involved in management and was back with Barcelona as the striker’s coach under Frank Rijkaard in his first year with the club, before taking the Bulgarian national team manager position in 2004. He would then step down after three unsuccessful years. His first club managerial position was with Celta Vigo in 2007 but his two year stint was a disappointing one and would lead to his sacking. He was hired in June of 2009 as the manager of the South African club, Mamelodi Sundowns FC but resigned back in March after leading the club to second place. His resignation stemmed from the club’s failure to give him a new contract

 

Busquets

Busquets

Carles Busquets is also another member profiled from the 1992 European Cup Champions team.  Currently  more remembered  as the father of current FC Barcelona Sergio Busquets, he  was also the long time backup keeper Zubizarreta. Just like his son, he was promoted from Barcelona B and remained a part of the first team from 1988 to 1999. Under Robson, he would make 4 league starts, start both legs in the semifinals against Las Palmas and only one start in the UEFA Cup Winners’Cup tournament against AIK Solna.

 

Unfortunately, his tenure at the club is remembered mostly for some of his blunders in net but was in goal for the 4-0 victory against Manchester United in the 94-95 Champions League match. He would remain with the club for a few more years before joining UE Lleida for the 1999-2000 season and retired from the game after the 2002-2003 season. He is also is a member of the FC Barcelona veterans indoor squad that won the league title last season. He has been a long time keepers coaches with the Barcelona academy and was recently promoted to goal keeper’s coach of the first team after Carlos Unzué left that position to become the new Numancia manager.

 

Giovanni Silva de Oliveira

Giovanni

Giovanni started his career in 1991 at Tuna Luso before moving on to other clubs such as Remo, Paysandu and Sãocarlense before joining Santos in 1995. After two seasons there, the attacking midfielder was one of the new re-enforcements for Bobby Robson. He started the first leg of the Super Copa  and scored his ever goal as a Barcelona player and would go on to feature in 30 league matches, scoring 7 goals. He also featured in 4 Copa Del Rey matches, 1 as a starter, and scored the game winning goal in first leg encounter against Real Madrid round of 16. As for the Cup Winners’ Cup, he featured in 8 matches, starting 6 of them, and scoring three goals, all of them against ER Belgrado over two games in the group stages.

 

Giovanni would play two more seasons with the club before being sold to Greek powerhouse Olympiakos. He would go on to play for six seasons with Olympiakos before making a return to Santos for one season. He would then play in Saudi Arabia for Al Hilal, Greek club Ethnikos before returning to Brazil again to play for Mogi Mirim before retiring from football. Although he only scored 18 goals at his time with Barcelona, he is remembered for scoring in El Clásico against the arch rival Real Madrid and in one occasion, his “butifarra” celebration following scoring against Real Madrid. Currently, he  came out of retirement in January  to join Santos again and play alongside Robinho but then ended his comeback short when he retired in March.

 

The Rest:

 

Amuneke

Amunike

Emmanuel Amuneke joined FC Barcelona during the Cup Winners’ Cup season and would feature in 22 games for the club in all competitions in that season. The Nigerian International, mostly known for his international performances, had already played at the club level in Nigeria, Egypt and Portugal before joining Barcelona. Sadly, that season would be the only season of solid contribution from Amunike who would spend the following three seasons injured. He made 19 league appearances and 3 Copa Del Rey appearances and scored only 1 goal.  He managed to make only four appearances the following season and would not feature in any games the next two seasons.  After he left the club, he signed on with Albacete Balompié and Al-Wihdat in Jordan before calling it a day.

 

After Emmanuel brought an end to his career in 2004, he returned to Europe where he got his coaching license. He settled in Spain and worked as a media consultant at some of the bigger tournaments before going to Ghana at the beginning of this year as a scout for Manchester United at the Africa Cup of Nations. He then went on to become assistant coach at Al Hazem in Saudi Arabia. He was recently let go as manager of Julius Berger team in Nigeria and has his own football academy in Nigeria and worked as an analyst for Al Jazeera during the most recent World Cup and is one of the candidates to be the new manager of Nigeria.

 

Miguel Angel Nadal

Nadal

Nadal is another member of the 1992 squad, and just like that season, Nadal would not feature in the final. However, Nadal did feature in 37 games in all competitions that season and played a vital role in helping the club win three cups. He made 27 league appearances that season and scored one goal along with starting 1 Super Copa match and 6 Copa Del Rey matches and scoring one goal in the 3-2 win over Madrid in the first leg of Round 1. His contribution in the successful Cup Winners’ Cup competition consisted of 5 started and one goal coming in the 1-1 draw against Fiorentina in the Semi-Final.

He is also known for being the uncle of one of the best tennis players in the world at the moment, Rafael Nadal.  Nadal is also member of the FC Barcelona veterans’ indoor team which won the league title last season and did some broadcasting work for IB3, a Balearic television channel available in the Balearic Islands. He was recently hired, back in July, to be Michael Laudrup’s assistant at his first club Mallorca.

 

Bakero

Bakero

Bakero was also profiled as part of the 1992 European Cup Champions team as one of their attacking midfielders. The 96-97 season would be his last season with the club where he only featured in a few games in all competitions. He came on as a substitute in the second leg of the Super Copa and appeared in 4 leagues matches and managed to score a goal. He was hired by the Polish club Polonia back in November and managed to avoid them from being relegated and will be their manager for the upcoming season.

 

Blanc

Blanc

Laurent Blanc is the former French international known for helping France win the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro Cup. He was the last player bought by Cruyff before Cruyff’s firing.  Blanc was bought from French club Auxerre and featured in 38 games for the club in all competitions and scored one goal during his single season there. Unfortunately, he endured some injuries and decided to play in France for Marseille in order to get ready for the 1998 World Cup after the 96-97 season.  He would go on to play for Inter and Manchester United before calling it a career in 2003. He is currently the manager for  FC Girondins de Bordeaux with some success after winning the French league title two seasons ago and took his team deep into the elimination rounds of the Champions League from a group that had Juventus and Bayern Munich. He was chosen to be France’s new national team coach and has left Bordeaux to begin his new venture as the new manager of Les Blues.

 

Albert Celades

Celades

Albert Celades is another player who graduated from the team’s youth academy, but is also known for being one of the infamous Barcelona players to end up playing for Real Madrid. The defensive midfielder had a nine year career starting with the youth academy in 1990 and culminating in 1999 when he would leave the club to Celta Vigo. He only featured in six games for the 96-97 season.  After one season with Celta Vigo, Celades would join Real Madrid for five years, with a year on loan to Bordeaux in between, before playing a few more seasons with Real Zaragoza. Although he just his retirement from the game after playing a season in the MLS with the NY Red Bulls, he went on to sign a temporary contract to play in the Hong Kong first division for Kitchee SC.

 

 

Ángel Manuel Cuéllar

Cuellar

Ángel Manuel Cuéllar was signed by FC Barcelona in 1995 from Real Betis where he had played a great role in helping Betis finishing third in the league the prior season with 14 goals as a winger.  Unfortunately, Cuéllar debut for the club started in nightmare fashion when he ruptured his ACL in his first league game with the club. He would return later on that season but the manager who signed him, Cruyff, was fired and Cuellar ended up featuring in 15 games in all competitions that season. The 96-97 season would see him feature in only 12 games in all competitions largely due to the presence of Figo. He would leave the club the following season and return to Real Betis before bouncing around in the lower leagues with Racing Ferrol, Levante, Gimnastic Tarragona,  Lugo and Narón. He retired from the game after the 2007-2008 season with Narón and is currently enjoying his retirement by representing the club’s indoor football team.

 

Francesco Arnau

Arnau

Arnau is a former youth product who was the third string goal keeper for the club  during the 1996-1997 season.  He came up through the ranks with a year at Barcelona C for the 1994-1995 season and then Barcelona B the follow season which would see him go back forth between the senior team and Barcelona B. During that 1996-1997 season, Arnau featured in only one league match, a 3-3 draw against Atlético Madrid. He left the club in 2001 after constantly being the backup goal keeper and joined Malaga and would spend two season sitting on the bench as a backup before becoming the team’s number one keeper for the 2003-2004 season. He is currently still with Malaga but is reduced to being a third keeper at the age of 35 and did not feature in any matches least season.

 

Oscar Garcia

Oscar G

Oscar Garcia is a former youth product of FC Barcelona back in the early 90’s but did not get to feature much for the club and was loaned out to Albacete for the 1994-1995 season. He would feature more following his return from his loan spell along with his brother Roger Garcia. Under Bobby Robson, he only made 18 appearances – 14 League appearances and scored 4 goals and Copa Del Rey Matched where his lone goal coming in the second leg Semi-Final against Las Palmas. He would leave the club and join Valencia and Espanyol before calling it a day after concluding the 2004-2005 season with UE Lleida in La Segunda División B. Following his retirement, he represented the club in their Spanish indoor football league but also made the leap from representing the Catalan national team to becoming one of its assistant managers under Johan Cruyff when the Catalan national team squared off against Argentina last December. He was recently appointed by new president Sandro Rosell to be the new manager of the club’s youth side, Juvenil A.

 

Roger Garcia

Roger G

Roger Garcia played for the club’s youth team and senior club from 1994 to 1999 and is the baby brother of Oscar Garcia. After coming through the ranks, he was called up for a game near the end of the 1994-1995 season by Johan Cruyff. For the 1996-1997 season, Roger made 1 start in the Copa Del Rey second leg of the Semi-finals and 4 starts in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Although he did not feature in the Super Copa games, he made 16 appearances in La Primera, scoring twice. He left the club and joined Espanyol in 1999 and then Villarreal in 2003 before retiring after one season with Ajax Amsterdam following the 2006-2007 season. He is currently enjoying his retirement, and unlike his brother, is not involved with the club right now.

 

Julen Lopetegui

Lopu

Lopetegui was the team’s 4th goal keeper.  He hardly featured for the club during the 1996-1997 season but he, like Luis Enrique, is known for being one of the players who joined the club after playing for the eternal enemy, Real Madrid. He began his career in 1983 with San Sebastián CF before stints with Castilla CF, Las Palmas, Real Madrid, CD Logroñés before joining Barcelona in 1994. He would leave the club in 1997 play for Rayo Vallecano until his retirement following the 2001-2002 season. During the 1996-1997 season, Lopetegui only featured in one game, starting in the 3-1 loss to Atlético Madrid in the second leg of the Super Copa. Following his retirement, he began a career as a manager and coached Rayo Vallecano for the 2003-2004 season. He then worked for La Sexta as a sports commentator  where he is remembered for fainting on the air in the studio. He finished a stint as Real Madrid Castilla manager during the 2008-2009 season and was recently announced as the new Spanish National U-19 team manager back in July.

 

victory

vicotry 2

 

* Special thanks to Miss Sonia for helping me out in this research.