Champions League winning stars have ended up in the Championship on more occasions that you might remember – with Gareth Bale on the verge of becoming the latest icon to make the switch amid talks with Cardiff.
From Manchester United and Chelsea to Real Madrid and Barcelona, some of the most famous footballers in Europe have ended up in the second tier of English football as they close out their successful careers.
On the back of Bale's talks, Daily Star Sport has taken a look at 10 of those who have had a spell in the English Football League over the years – some for a lot longer than others.
READ MORE: 8 stars you didn't know had trials at other clubs – including Steven Gerrard with Man Utd
John Terry, who is widely considered to be one of the best defenders in Premier League history, won five league titles with Chelsea and the Champions League in 2011/12.
The former England skipper left the club in 2017 and would go on to join Aston Villa and be named as their captain ahead of the new Championship season.
Despite having a positive campaign, his time in the second tier as a player ended in heartbreak as they lost 1-0 to Fulham at Wembley.
Which Champions League winner had the biggest fall from grace? Tell us in the comments section
Nwankwo Kanu joined Arsenal in 1999 following a tricky spell with Inter Milan after breaking into the first team at Ajax and winning the Champions League.
He would go on to score 44 goals for the club and win two Premier League titles, later signing for West Brom and then Portsmouth who got relegated during his fourth season at the club.
The Nigerian went on to play in two Championship seasons on the south coast, scoring just three goals as his career came to a quiet end.
Wayne Rooney had a glittering 13 seasons at United during which time he picked up five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2007/08.
He then rejoined Everton in 2017 before a spell with DC United, returning to England in a player-coach role at Derby County having been named their new captain.
The former England skipper played 30 times in the second tier and scored six goals, retiring from playing in January of 2021 after being named their permanent manager.
Andy Cole played for 12 different English clubs but is best remembered for his eight seasons at United where he won five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Following spells with Blackburn, Fulham and Manchester City, Cole signed for Portsmouth and ended up joining Birmingham on loan in the Championship.
He striker found the net once across his five appearances, going on to play for Sunderland in the top flight before further second tier spells with Burnley and Nottingham Forest.
Ashley Cole scored a penalty in Chelsea's Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in 2011/12 having won the Premier League title with the club in 2009/10.
He went on to join Roma and LA Galaxy before being brought back to English football by former team-mate Frank Lampard who had got the manager's job at Derby.
He played nine times for the club in 2018/19 and even scored his first ever FA Cup goal during a clash against Brighton despite being a seven-time winner of the competition.
Eidur Gudjohnsen was brought into English football by Bolton Wanderers before winning two Premier League titles with Chelsea that caught the interest of Barcelona.
The Iceland icon then won an iconic treble under Pep Guardiola which included a Champions League final victory over Manchester United.
He left the club to Monaco and had spells with Tottenham, Stoke, Fulham, AEK Athens, Cercle Brugge and Club Brugge before returning to Bolton in the Championship in 2014/15 where he scored five times in 21 fixtures.
Kiko Casilla returned to Real Madrid from Espanyol back in 2015 and would go on to play 43 times for the club and pick up one league title and three Champions Leagues.
Despite not being a regular starter, his move to Championship outfit Leeds came as a shock to many and he played across two seasons before their promotion to the Premier League.
Casilla joined Elche on loan last season and looks set to leave Leeds permanently this summer.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel famously joined Chelsea after posing with a United shirt having impressed with Norwegian outfit Lyn, and went on to win two Premier League titles and later the Champions League in 2011/12.
Mikel left the club in 2017 for a spell in China before signing for Middlesbrough in the Championship, returning to the division in 2020/21 with Stoke after a stint at Trabzonspor.
The midfielder made a total of 57 appearances in the competition.
Gary Cahill joined Chelsea from Bolton back in 2011 and went on to win everything English football has to offer including the Premier League and Champions League.
He went on to join Crystal Palace in 2019 where he would spend two seasons before playing in the Championship with Bournemouth last season.
Despite making 22 league outings as they booked a top flight return, he has since been released by the club as he approaches his 37th birthday.
Bojan was once a Barcelona starlet who had made 164 appearances for the club across four seasons and helped them to three league titles and two Champions Leagues.
However, he left to join Roma in 2011 and came to England with Stoke in 2014/15 after spells with Milan and Ajax.
After two seasons he was loaned out to Mainz and Alaves, returning after their relegation to the Championship where he made 21 appearances and scored once in 2018/19.
Premier League icon's mantra includes "lots of sex, no rules and pure life"
- Robert Lewandowski's "childish explanation" for Premier League snub slammed by ex-agent
- Ex-Premier League star celebrates bagging massive fortune from selling horse
Source: Read Full Article