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What happened to Rangers' UEFA Cup final team?

Five years have passed since Rangers played in the Uefa Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg at the City of Manchester Stadium, writes Richard Wilson.

leader: Barry Ferguson captained Rangers in UEFA Cup final in 2008
leader: Barry Ferguson captained Rangers in UEFA Cup final in 2008

It was the culmination of a dogged, disciplined and, at times, remarkable run of games in the competition, and reaching the final alone represented another significant achievement in Walter Smith's managerial career. Rangers lost 2-0 and disturbances in the city during the game by drunken louts who had travelled to Manchester to be part of the occasion marred the night further. Since then, though, Rangers have suffered a series of financial crises, culminating in the liquidation of Rangers Football Club plc and the sale of the club and its business and assets to Rangers International Football Club. Now preparing for a season in the second division, Rangers are far removed from the glories of a European run. This is what became of the Rangers players who competed in the final on May 14, 2008.

Neil Alexander

The only player from the starting line-up who remains at Ibrox, although the goalkeeper is out of contract in the summer and has been unable to negotiate an extension. It never crossed Alexander's mind to leave Rangers 12 months ago, when employment law allowed players to depart on a free transfer after the sale of the club to the consortium fronted by Charles Green, and he remains a popular player with the supporters and the manager, Ally McCoist.

Kirk Broadfoot

Another who remained at the club last summer. Broadfoot played twice for Rangers during this campaign in the third division, before leaving for Blackpool. The deal suited both parties, since he was on a high wage and wanted to play regularly as a centre-back. He would, though, like to return to Ibrox.

David Weir

Finally retired from the game in January 2012. At that point, Weir was 41 and not playing regularly at Ibrox as McCoist attempted to freshen up the team under the increasingly erratic and insubstantial ownership of Craig Whyte. Weeks later, the club went into administration. Weir returned to Everton, where he joined the coaching staff, and could be promoted after a new manager is appointed to replace the Manchester United-bound David Moyes.

Carlos Cuellar

The Spanish defender won two player-of-the-year awards during the 2007/08 campaign, but did not play a match the following season before he was sold to Aston Villa in a £7.8m deal. It was good business for Rangers, and Cuellar impressed in the Barclay's Premier League under Martin O'Neill. Joined Sunderland last summer, but has not played as consistently or solidly for them.

Sasa Papac

One of the most popular players during his time at Ibrox, and something of an unsung hero. Papac remained at the club until August 2012, when he announced his retirement from the game. He was hampered by a persistent groin injury, but had also suffered several head knocks that were troubling after he suffered a serious car crash several years ago.

Brahim Hemdani

A player with a curious career at Rangers. A cultured midfielder, he featured prominently during the Uefa Cup run, but did not play for the club again after the final. He remained at Ibrox until June 2009, when his contract expired, but did not feature at all that season. He subsequently drifted out of the game entirely.

Steven Whittaker

The Scotland internationalist remained at Rangers until last summer, when he took advantage of employment law to leave the club on a free transfer. When a business is sold, the new owners must honour existing employment terms, but staff can also choose to not remain with the company under different ownership. Whittaker, uncertain about Green and the ownership of the club, left and joined Norwich City, where he remains.

Barry Ferguson

Left for Birmingham City in July 2009, after a season interrupted by injury and a drinking session while on Scotland duty that caused a furore. Went on to win the Carling Cup with Birmingham before joining Blackpool in July 2011. Ferguson spent part of this campaign on loan at Fleetwood Town, and is keen to become a manager, but regained his place in the Blackpool team under Paul Ince towards the end of the season.

Kevin Thomson

The midfielder moved to Middlesbrough in the summer of 2010, but his career in England was plagued by serious injuries, including a broken leg. The English club eventually terminated his contract last January and, as a free agent, Thomson returned to Hibernian, his first club. He has played regularly for the Easter Road side this season.

Steven Davis

Another who took advantage of Rangers' situation last summer to leave on a free transfer, although Southampton eventually agreed to make an undisclosed payment. The midfielder has featured regularly in the Barclay's Premier League this season, and helped the club avoid relegation in their first season back in the top flight.

Jean-Claude Darcheville

The Frenchman left Ibrox for Valenciennes in January 2009, but only stayed there until the end of the season. A year was then spent at Nantes, before he signed a two-year contract at Greek club AO Kavala. Now appears to have retired from top-level football.

Subs: Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo, Lee McCulloch

The last named remains at Ibrox, where he is club captain and will continue to be an influential figure during the next campaign. The other two could yet return. Boyd only signed a short-term deal at Kilmarnock, after a spell in Turkey ended badly, while Novo is desperate to return to Rangers following a disappointing spell in Spain. Neither is at the top of the list of strikers McCoist is considering – Nicky Clark, Kenny Miller and Jon Daly are at the front of the queue – but it is conceivable that Boyd or Novo could play for the club again.

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