I have had one or two suggestions to do videos on every Champions League and European Cup winning side and look at where they are now. The nature of that competition though, the very pinnacle of the European game, means that the vast majority of European champions are very well-known clubs.
I don’t think most people are too interested to hear about where Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are now, you don’t really need me to tell you that. Instead, I’m going to look at the 7 worst former European Cup and Champions League winners in 2019. When I say worst, that isn’t just my opinion, it is based on each clubs UEFA coefficient over the last 10 years, so there’s some science to it. If a team hasn’t played any European football at all over the last 10 years – and there are only two European champions who fall into that category – they will be ranked based on where they finished last season.
Here are the 7 worst European champions now:
The seventh worst former European champions in 2019 according to UEFA’s ten-year coefficients, Celtic rank 49th among European clubs over the last decade, just below the likes of FC Copenhagen, Club Brugge and Genk. Celtic became the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, when their Lisbon Lions defeated Helenio Herrera’s more fancied Inter Milan side. The Glasgow giants have only reached the knockout stages of the Champions League once in the last decade though, and they failed to qualify this season.
6. Steaua Bucharest
Next up in this seven, just five places below Celtic in UEFA’s coefficients, we have Steaua Bucharest. By far the most successful club in Romania, Steaua haven’t won a league title since 2015, which is a fairly long barren spell by their standards. Steaua won the 1986 European Cup final against Barcelona on penalties with an all-Romanian XI, as goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam saved every one of Barcelona’s four penalties. The club has had a pretty torrid time of things in the Champions League in recent years though, only making the group stages once and failing to win any of their six matches as they propped up group E.
A little like Celtic, it seems bizarre to be talking about Feyenoord as anything other than a richly competitive side in European competition. Sadly, for some time now, that just hasn’t been the case. Whilst their great rivals Ajax are still up in 23rd, Feyenoord rank 82nd in UEFA’s ten-year coefficients, since they too have only made the group stages once in the last 10 years, losing five of their six games when they got there. Feyenoord won the European Cup in 1970, when Austrian Ernst Happel guided them to a 2-1 win over Celtic.
4. Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade’s European triumph was relatively recent by the standards of this seven, having overcome Marseille on penalties in the 1991 final to record a famous victory for Serbian football. Now some of you may recall that Red Star actually beat eventual winners Liverpool in the group stages of last seasons Champions League, but that was the only game they won, finishing bottom of their group, in what was also the only time they’ve featured in the tournaments group stages since 1992. That gives Red Star a UEFA coefficient ranking of 103rd over the last ten years, trailing the likes of Stoke, Swansea and Birmingham.
3. Aston Villa
The eighth most successful club in English football and one of only five English clubs to have been crowned European champions, Aston Villa won the European Cup in 1982 with a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich. The Birmingham-based outfit haven’t been English or European champions since then, and they haven’t reached the group stages of either the Champions League or the Europa League in the last decade. They did feature in the play-offs twice under Martin O’Neill, losing to Rapid Vienna on both occasions. Things went from bad to worse for Villa in 2016, when they were relegated from the Premier League, but they returned to the top flight this season.
There are two clubs in this seven that haven’t played any European football since the start of the 2010-11 season, meaning they don’t rank in the UEFA ten-year coefficients at all. Naturally those two teams come out as the top two in this seven, starting with German side Hamburg. Hamburg won the European Cup in 1983, just a season after Villa’s triumph in 1982, beating Juventus 1-0 in the final. Up until 2018, Hamburg had never played outside of the top flight of German football, and they finished fourth in the second tier last season. Hamburg last played European football the 2009-10 campaign, reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League, and they last played in the Champions League in 2006-07.
1. Nottingham Forest
One of only eight teams to have retained the European Cup, Nottingham Forest won back-to-back European titles under Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980. Forest were never a force in European football before Clough, nor have they been since. They last played European football in the 1995-96 campaign, in which they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, and they haven’t even played top flight domestic football since 1999. As such, Forest are nowhere to be seen in UEFA’s ten-year coefficients, and having finished ninth in the Championship last season, they have to come out on top in this seven.