Ronaldo, Banega and other tournament ‘owners’…

Date published: Thursday 13th August 2020 8:11

Watching Wolves against Sevilla on Tuesday night we were struck by the thought that Ever Banega is the most Europa League player ever. We were so struck by that thought that we even tweeted it.

See? His – and Sevilla’s – Europa League presence was a lovely comfort blanket of familiarity in these unprecedented times we find ourselves stumbling through. But now we’re thinking who are the most Other Tournament players out there? Here are some answers to that idle thought.

Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo
Boring and obvious but it is sadly the correct answer. Has scored a frankly daft 896665362 (subs, please check) goals on those great Gazprom Nights at Old Trafford and the Bernabeu and Allianz Stadium. He’s won the big cup a big five times and such is his unrivalled and unquestioned dominance of the event that Juventus – who have their own domestic title sewn up every year no matter how messed up the world becomes – chucked all the money at Madrid to bring Ronaldo in to try and end their Champions League drought. It hasn’t worked as yet, placing just about the only blemish on his record in the competition.

Europa League: Ever Banega
Has Ever Banega ever played a game of football that wasn’t in the Europa League? We don’t know and frankly we don’t want to know.

Cup Winners’ Cup: Nayim
Tricky with the dear old CWC because by the very nature of its qualification criteria, teams were unlikely to run up year upon year upon year in the competition like they can with the Champions League or Europa League. Barcelona are the only team to have won it more than twice. Not even the defending champions could be relied on to definitely turn up the following year, liable as they were to win their domestic league as well and go gallivanting off to the European Cup/Champions League instead. These are all among the reasons for its eventual withering and demise, and a long-winded justification for picking a player who only won the Cup Winners’ Cup once and only had a couple of cracks at the tournament. But we still reckon that if asked to name one thing that happened in the entire history of the Cup Winners’ Cup then a good chunk of respondents would look blankly at you for an extended period of time, perhaps start edging slowly away, maybe look frantically around for an exit and then, right at the last, blurt out “Nayim lobbing Seaman from 50 yards”. And that’s good enough for us.

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FA Cup: Ashley Cole
We’re (clearly) not being as strict as saying that the most successful player has to get the nod, but with the FA Cup you’re being wilfully obtuse if you pick anyone else here. Ashley Cole won a genuinely insane seven FA Cups in the space of 11 seasons with Arsenal and Chelsea. To put those already ludicrous numbers into even clearer context: in the space of little more than a decade, Cole won the FA Cup more often than all but four clubs have in their entire histories. And one of those four is Chelsea, who had Cole on board for half their eight wins. Only Manchester United and Tottenham have won more than seven FA Cups without any help at all from Cole.

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League Cup: Emile Heskey
Before the 2016 miracle, Leicester’s main claim to trophy fame was the four-year run at the end of the 90s when for reasons that are unclear they decided to simply boss the League Cup for a while. Across a four-year period they won it twice as well as losing a final despite never finishing higher than eighth in the Premier League during that time or reaching so much as a quarter-final in the FA Cup. At the heart of it all was Emile Heskey, who would go on to lift the trophy twice more with Liverpool. It’s true that he scored only three goals across those four successful campaigns put together, but Heskey was never about such vulgar and simplistic frippery as goalscoring.

Dave Tickner

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