Where are they now? Chelsea’s 2011/12 Champions League winners
The 2011/12 season was a bit of a funny one for Chelsea.
The Blues thought they had found the next Jose Mourinho in Andre Villas-Boas, having paid a record £13.3m in compensation to Porto to sign the boss in the summer, but he only made it to March. Fourth place was slipping away and Champions League elimination looked likely after a 3-1 loss to Napoli in the last 16 first leg.
Chelsea needed to win the Champions League to qualify for Europe’s top competition next season, and they only went and did exactly that.
With Roberto Di Matteo at the helm, Chelsea burst past Napoli, Benfica, Barcelona and finally Bayern Munich to lift the most important trophy in their history, adding the Champions League title to the FA Cup as well.
Di Matteo was handed the permanent job as a reward, only to be ruthlessly sacked in November, when everything started to unravel once again. The circle of life.
Here’s what happened to that squad.
By 2011/12, Cech was widely accepted to be one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the Premier League. He was the hero in the Champions League final, saving three penalties across the entire occasion to keep Chelsea alive, and he was rewarded with a new four-year contract.
He didn’t see that deal out. After losing his spot in the team to young Thibaut Courtois, Cech was sold to Arsenal in 2015, only to return to Stamford Bridge in 2019 as a technical and performance advisor. He’s even in the 25-man Premier League squad, but only as emergency cover.
Brought to Chelsea in 2009 as cover for Cech, Turnbull was the League Cup goalkeeper in 2011/12 and managed two Premier League appearances in the final two games of the season. He even won a Champions League medal for sitting on the bench in the final.
Turnbull was released in 2013 and spent time with Doncaster, Barnsley and Leeds United, and after being released from the latter in 2017, he retired from playing to take up a coaching role with Hartlepool.
Three years into his Chelsea career at this point, Ivanovic was firmly on the way to establishing himself as a fan-favourite. He scored the winner in the second-leg comeback against Napoli and will always be remembered as a hero for it.
Age caught up to the dominant Russian and his performances began to drop as the years went by. He lost his spot in the team in 2016/17 to Victor Moses of all people, before being granted a move to Zenit in 2017. He spent three years in Russia, but is now back in England with West Brom.
Brought to Chelsea in the summer of 2011, Luiz impressed in his debut year and was a core part of the team. He was so good, in fact, that PSG made him the most expensive defender ever at the time by splashing out £50m to sign him in 2014.
Luiz returned to Chelsea in 2016 but was out the door again in 2019, having been told he was no longer needed by manager Frank Lampard. Arsenal took him on, and Luiz remains there to this day.
Cahill began the 2011/12 season as a relegation favourite with Bolton, and ended it lifting both the FA Cup and Champions League with Chelsea. How’s that for an upgrade?
The centre back remained with Chelsea until 2019 after being frozen out by Maurizio Sarri. Fans weren’t happy with his treatment and wished him nothing but the best when he left to join Crystal Palace.
Club legend Terry famously missed the Champions League final but still donned his full kit to lift the trophy, and we’re all for it. Nobody deserved to lift that trophy more than him.
Terry made it to 712 appearances and five Premier League titles before leaving the club in 2017. He spent one season playing for Aston Villa, before retiring to become the Villans’ assistant manager.
One of England’s best ever left backs, Cole was an influential figure in 2011/12, but saw his spot in the team taken by Cesar Azpilicueta in 2013/14, so he left to join Roma that summer.
After a meme-worthy spell in Italy, Cole moved to La Galaxy in 2016, but made his return to English football with Derby County in January 2019. He retired at the end of the 2018/19 season and is now working as an academy coach at Chelsea.
A regular at right back in 2011/12, this turned out to be Bosingwa’s final season in Chelsea blue as he was released and allowed to join QPR that summer.
His spell at Loftus Road didn’t exactly go well, and so he was shipped off to Trabzonspor in 2013, eventually hanging up his boots in 2016.
Coming towards the end of his playing career at this point, Ferreira struggled for minutes under Villas-Boas and eventually walked away from the game in 2013 once his Chelsea contract had expired.
He stayed at Stamford Bridge and took up a number of roles behind the scenes. He has spent time as an ambassador and a loan player coach, and he’s currently part of Chelsea’s scouting network.
Famously handed his Champions League debut in the final as a left winger, Bertrand did an excellent job neutralising the threat of Arjen Robben, and it seemed like the start of a fantastic career in blue.
However, he stayed on the fringes behind Cole, and Azpilicueta’s arrival effectively pushed Bertrand out the exit door. He joined Southampton in 2014 on a loan which was made permanent, and he has racked up well over 200 appearances for the Saints.
Lampard remained a Chelsea player until 2014, after which he spent time with Manchester City (for whom he scored against Chelsea) and New York City, before turning to management in 2018.
An impressive debut season with Derby County saw him return to Chelsea as first-team manager. Lampard led Chelsea to the top four in his debut season, but was unceremoniously sacked in January 2021 after a poor run of form.
Injuries were taking their toll on Essien by the 2011/12 season. He struggled to win over Villas-Boas but saw more minutes under Di Matteo, although it was apparent that his time at Stamford Bridge was over.
He joined Mourinho’s Real Madrid on loan in 2012 and AC Milan in 2014, before embarking on a trip around the world. Essien spent time with Greece’s Panathinaikos, Indonesian side Persib Bandung and Sabail of Azerbaijan, and he has since been working at Nordsjaelland as a coach.
Player of the Year in his debut season at Chelsea, it looked like the Blues had struck gold with Mata. He was excellent in 2011/12 and out of this world in 2012/13, but Mourinho’s return to the Bridge brought the end for Mata.
The Spaniard was sold to Manchester United in January 2014, where he eventually reunited with and outlasted Mourinho.
One of the more underrated players in recent Chelsea memory, Ramires was a loyal servant for Chelsea up until his departure for Jiangsu Suning in 2016, with his memorable lob against Barcelona winning the club’s goal of the season award in 2011/12.
Controversy in China saw him return to Brazil with Palmeiras in 2019, but he left the club in November 2020 and was rumoured to be considering retirement.
A young Romeu was excellent after swapping Barcelona’s academy for Stamford Bridge, only for a serious knee injury in December to derail his career in London.
He spent time on loan with Valencia and Stuttgart before being sold to Southampton in 2015, where he has managed to prove himself and live up to some of the potential he showed earlier in his career.
John Obi Mikel
The cult-est of cult heroes at Chelsea, Mikel was excellent in 2011/12 and offered up five more years of reliable service before seeing his contract released in 2017.
Mikel left to join Chinese side Tianjin TEDA, but he returned to England with Middlesbrough in January 2019. A spell with Trabzonspor followed, and Mikel is now once again in England with Stoke City.
This was Meireles’ one and only season at Chelsea, and he offered up a handful of memorable moments. His worldie against Benfica earned him a spot in club folklore.
A move to Fenerbahce followed, where he spent four controversy-ridden seasons before walking away from football in 2016.
The man for the big occasion, Drogba’s final kick of a ball in his first Chelsea spell was the winning penalty against Bayern, after which he headed over to China to join Shanghai Shenhua.
Drogba came back to Europe with Galatasaray in 2013 and had another spell at Chelsea under Mourinho in 2014/15 before heading over to America. He spent a year with Montreal Impact and another as player-owner with Phoenix Rising, eventually retiring in 2018 to focus on off-field work.
The man who made Gary Nevile ooooooooooo with his goal against Barcelona, Torres didn’t have too many better moments at Chelsea before leaving to join AC Milan in 2015.
Torres returned to Spain with Atletico Madrid in 2015 before retiring in Japan with Sagan Tosu in 2018/19, and he looks like he’s spent his retirement eating pure metal as Torres is huge these days.
Billed as the heir to Drogba’s throne, Lukaku’s debut season didn’t exactly go well, and so he was sent out on loans to West Brom and Everton to prove himself, joining the latter permanently in 2014.
Lukaku blossomed into an elite striker and earned a huge move to Manchester United, rejecting a return to Chelsea in the process, and he’s currently strutting his stuff with Inter as one of the world’s best.
A young squad player during the 2011/12 season, things never really worked out for Sturridge at Chelsea, and he ended up being sold to Liverpool in 2012.
Part of a lethal strike force alongside Luis Suarez, Sturridge nearly led the Reds to the Premier League title, but injuries soon took their toll. He failed to prove his fitness on loan with West Brom and was offloaded to Trabzonspor in 2019. Released in March 2020 after being hit with a global ban for betting infringements, Sturridge has not played since.
An incredibly reliable backup, Kalou filled in anywhere across the attacking line for Chelsea, so it came as a surprise to see him released shortly after the Champions League final triumph.
A move to Lille followed, after which Kalou spent six years in Germany with Hertha Berlin, and he’s currently playing out in Brazil with Botafogo after joining the club last summer.
Malouda struggled during 2011/12 but pledged to improve next year, only to try and force a move away from the club in the summer. He refused to take a pay cut and was left to rot in the reserves until his release in 2013.
He was a busy man after leaving Chelsea, spending time in Turkey, France and India, before hanging his boots up in Luxembourg. Malouda joined Zurich as a coach in early 2019 but was released after just two months.
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