Long before Rijkaard’s and Guardiola’s Champions League winning teams, the first fantasy team to capture the Champions League and end a long agonizing wait for Barcelona fans was the Cruyff managed “Dream Team”. May 20th, 1992 is the date that FC Barcelona finally won the big cup that had always eluded it. The heartbreak of losing to Benfica and Steaua Bucuresti were finally forgotten when FC Barcelona defeated Sampdoria 1-0 in the famed Wembley Stadium. Ronald Koeman’s free-kick goal with only nine minutes left in extra time clinched the club’s first Champions Cup. 19 years have since passed and the competition is now known as the Champions League. We now look at where life took the players after their time at the club had come to an end. Guest writer Ibrahim Ayyub finds out where the players from the dream team currently are.
Part 1, examining the careers of the starters from the legendary 1992 final, can be found here.
The players on the bench were:
Carles Busquets, José Ramón Alexanko, Txiki Begiristain, Miguel Ángel Nadal, and Ion Andoni Goikoetxea.
Carles Busquets, more famously known as Sergio Busquets’ father, was the long time backup keeper to Zubizarreta. Just like his son, he was promoted from Barcelona B and remained a part of the first team from 1988 to 1999. Unfortunately, his tenure at the club is remembered mostly for some of his blunders in net. He would then play for UE Lleida and retire from the game after the 2002-2003 season. He returned to Barça as one of the goalkeeper coaches with the Barcelona academy. He was the first team’s goalkeeper coach last season after Unzué left the club but opted to return to the Barça B goalkeeper coach position this past summer.
José Ramón Alexanko
Alexanko is a center back who signed with FC Barcelona back in 1980 and captained the “Dream Team” until his retirement following the 1992-1993 season. During that span, he played in over 200 games for the club and was the first one who lifted the Champions Cup to make amends for the 1986 cup Final in which his penalty shot was saved in the shootout. After retiring, he then got involved in management with stints at FC Universitatea Craiova and FC National Bucuresti in the late 90’s and then served as Carles Rexach’s assistant when Rexach was managing FC Barcelona in the 2001-2002 season.
During the Laporta presidency, Alexanko was the man in charge of the FC Barcelona youth system; a position he had held since 2005 before being let go when Sandro Rosell became the new club president in 2010. Alexanko’s replacement was fellow “Dream Team” teammate, Amor.
Txiki is also a name well known to Barcelona fans as a player and as the football club’s technical director. He joined FC Barcelona in 1988 from Real Sociedad and left the club in 1995. During his tenure, he also won four consecutive league titles, a Cup Winners’ Cup and the Champions League. He would go on to play for Deportivo La Coruña and Urawa Red Diamonds before retiring from the game in 1999.
After he retired, he got into sports commentary with TV3 while being involved with Lluís Bassat’s run for club presidency in 1999, which Joan Laporta was also involved in. In 2003, new elections were in store for FC Barcelona and Lluís Bassat had Joan Laporta as his opponent this time with Txiki backing Laporta. After Laporta won the election, Txiki was appointed as the technical director of the football club which he held during the entire Laporta regime. He stepped down from that position after the 2009-2010 season and his successor was his former “Dream Team” teammate, Zubizarreta.
Miguel Ángel Nadal
Nadal joined FC Barcelona from Mallorca in 1991 as one of their defenders. His tenure at the club resulted in five league titles, one Cup Winners’ Cup and the Champions League. He featured in over 300 club matches but left the club in 1999 because of Van Gaal not selecting him. He would return to Mallorca where he would continue to shine for both club and country until his retirement in 2005.
He is also known for being the uncle of one of the best tennis players in the world at the moment, Rafael Nadal. Nadal was a member of the FC Barcelona veterans indoor team which just won the league title. He is currently Michael Laudrup’s assistant coach over at Mallorca which is a position that he has held since last season.
Ion Andoni Goikoetxea
Goikoetxea joined the club from Osasuna in 1988 but was sent on a two year loan at Real Sociedad. He returned to the club in time for the 1991-1992 season. He was one of the few players of the club who could play in all positions except goalkeeper. He would win Don Balon’s player of the year in that first season and would go on to win four league titles and the European Champions Cup among other trophies.
He left the club after the 1993-1994 season and would go on to play for Athletic Bilbao, Yokohama Marinos, and Osasuna before retiring from football in 1999. He then turned to coaching Osasuna’s youth teams and was Osasuna’s assistant manager and even managed one game as the head coach of Osasuna, against Barcelona in 2008, because the manager Cuco Ziganda was watching from the stands serving a one match ban.
He then followed Ziganda, as his assistant manager, to Xerez for the 2009-2010 season. This past summer, Goiko was given the managerial duty of coaching Osasuna’s youth team, Cadete A, and he was also a member of the FC Barcelona veterans indoor team that won the league cup back in 2008.
Four other players were not called up to the final roster either due to suspension, foreign player limit rules or substitution limits were Guillermo Amor, Cristóbal Parralo, Ricardo Serna and Richard Witschge.
Amor is another member of the “Dream Team” who came from the youth academy. He was an attacking midfielder who represented the club for over 10 years. Amor made his debut in 1988 and went on to win 17 trophies with 3 Copa del Rey titles, 5 league titles, 2 Cup Winners’ Cup titles and the 1992 Champions League Cup. Just like Abidal, he unfortunately was suspended for the Final due to bookings, thus could not play in the final.
He left the club in 1998 and went on to play for Fiorentina, Villarreal CF, and Livingston FC before retiring from the game in 2003. He would end up being the manager of Barcelona B in 2003 and remain there till 2007. His contract was not renewed and he left the club and the position was then given to Guardiola.
Amor would then become a sports commentator for Telecinco. Unfortunately, Amor would suffer a horrible car accident, after commentating on a game, on December 17th, 2007 and had to be operated on for an abdominal trauma that he eventually recovered from and he is now back on his feet. His son is currently in Barcelona’s youth academy. He was also another member of the FC Barcelona veterans indoor squad. He is currently Barça’s Sporting Director of youth football, replacing Alexanko, since Sandro Rosell became president.
Cristóbal was a youth player who was promoted to the first team for the 1987-1988 season. He would then leave the club and play for Real Oviedo and Logroñés before returning to the club for the 1991-1992 season. He only featured in a few games and would leave the club after that season.
He would go on to play for Real Oviedo, Espanyol and finish his career with PSG, retiring after the 2002-2003 season. After retiring from playing, he also got into coaching with assistant manager positions at Espanyol and Benfica. He then got his first managerial job with PD Santa Eulalia in Segunda B halfway through the 2008-2009 season. Afterwards, he managed Girona FC in the Segunda División for the 2009-2010 season but was fired nine games into the season. He has not taken any coaching positions since then and is rumored to be working for Benfica as a scout.
Serna came to FC Barcelona in 1988 after six years with Sevilla. He was a defender for the “Dream Team” and featured in over 100 games for the club. His time at the club would result in him winning two league titles, one Cup Winners’ Cup and the Champions League. Serna did not make it to the bench in the final against Sampdoria and would leave the club after that final. He would go on to play for Deportivo La Coruña, Real Mallorca, Granada CF, before retiring with AD Ceuta after the 1996-1997 season.
After retiring from playing, he also went into management. He spent some time managing the Andalusia autonomous football team (Selección de fútbol de Andalucía) before going to Morocco’s IRT Tanger, and then returning to Spain to manage Manchego CF in the Tercera División. In June, 2008, he was hired to be Club Deportivo Don Benito’s new manager in the Tercera División but was fired in November 2008 and currently has not found a new club to manage with CD Toledo rumored to be interested in his services back in June 2010.
Witschge is the Dutch midfielder bought by Cruyff from Ajax Amsterdam for the 1991-1992 season. His stay would be a short one, 2 seasons, but he played in nine Champions League games in his first season along with 23 league appearances.
After the 1992-1993 season, Witschge would leave the team and have stints with FC Bordeaux, Blackburn Rovers, Ajax, Alavés before finishing his playing career with Oita Trinita in Japan after the 2003-2004 season. After he retired, he served as Aron Winter’s assistant manager with Ajax Amsterdam’s Reserve Team, Jong Ajax, but is no longer there and not much is known about what he has been up to lately.
These were the players that helped pave the way for FC Barcelona to capture their first ever Champions League title. It feels like yesterday for many of us long time fans where we always wondered when would we ever catch up to the likes of Ajax, Bayern, and Liverpool’s success whenever we saw the team’s profile on UEFA.com with the image of just one Champions League. Now, the club has four Champions League titles and the feeling is that this team can accomplish more.
Author’s note: I would like to thank my friends Sonia, Xavi (no, not that Xavi) and Dutch reporter Ernst Bouwes for their help in this research. If you know of any updates or mistakes, please feel free to let me know so we can correct it.