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Heroes of European Cup quarter-finals past

As the UEFA Champions League reaches the quarter-finals, we look back at 21 players who have shone before at this stage, from Duncan Edwards to Koke via Enzo Scifo.

Ronaldo stole the show at Old Trafford in 2003
Ronaldo stole the show at Old Trafford in 2003 ©Getty Images

Duncan Edwards, Manchester United FC 
"He could do anything, play anywhere," said Sir Bobby Charlton, "and the world awaited the full scale of his glory." Edwards was 21 when he died of the injuries he sustained in the Munich air disaster of 6 February 1958. By then the wing-half had played 151 games for United, won two league titles and picked up 18 caps for England.

In the 1958 quarter-final, Edwards rescued the home first leg for United, having a hand in both second-half goals that earned Matt Busby's side a 2-1 advantage against FK Crvena zvezda. Charlton scored twice in the return as United held on for a 5-4 victory. Ten years later, when United became the first English club to win the European Champion Clubs' Cup, Busby felt he had honoured the memory of Edwards and the seven other players who died in Munich.

Sándor Kocsis, FC Barcelona 
The great Hungarian humbled Wolverhampton Wanderers FC with four goals in Barça's 5-2 quarter-final return leg victory at Molineux in March 1960. Remarkably, his two second-half goals came after he received pain-killing injections at half-time because he had dislocated his shoulder following a fall in the first period.

©Getty Images

John Charles, Juventus 
The Welshman, known as 'Il Gigante Buono', the Gentle Giant, was adored by Juve fans, who in 1997 voted him the Bianconeri's greatest ever signing. The centre-forward – who scored 28 goals in his first Serie A season in 1957/58 to help Juve to the title – was an equally dominant centre-back, and it was in that position that he all but denied Real Madrid CF in the 1962 quarter-final first leg in Turin.

Only Alfredo Di Stéfano could find a way past as Madrid took a 1-0 lead back to Spain. Charles then played a major role in inflicting Madrid's first home defeat in European competition, his cross setting up Omar Sívori's goal. That forced a replay in Paris a week later, which Madrid won 3-1.

José Vicente Train, Real Madrid CF
The Blancos won four consecutive Spanish titles between 1961 and 1964 with the towering presence of Vicente in goal. He gave what was probably his most memorable performance in the 1964 European Champion Clubs' Cup against holders AC Milan. Defending a 4-1 first-leg lead, Madrid quickly conceded twice at San Siro and Vicente's goal was under siege for most of the second half. But he stood firm in a heroic goalkeeping display, for once stealing the limelight from his illustrious attacking team-mates.

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Johan Cruyff, AFC Ajax 
Cruyff and Ajax would go on to dominate Europe in the early 1970s and SL Benfica received a taste of what was to come in an epic quarter-final in 1969. The Eagles looked home and dry after winning 3-1 in Amsterdam, but Cruyff scored twice to set up a shock 3-1 victory in Lisbon. He then tipped the replay in Paris Ajax's way by opening the scoring in extra time. Two more goals followed as Ajax sealed a place in their first semi-final.

Gerd Müller, FC Bayern München 
'Der Bomber' finished as top scorer in the 1973 competition with 12 goals, even though Bayern did not get beyond the quarter-final. They were beaten at that stage by Ajax, who eventually turned on their considerable style in the first leg in Amsterdam to win 4-0. But Müller scored twice in Bayern's 2-1 victory against a Cruyff-less Ajax in the return leg in what would prove his most prolific season in this competition.

Dominique Rocheteau, AS Saint-Étienne 
The flying right winger inspired Saint-Étienne's greatest comeback in the competition. Valeriy Lobanovskiy's great FC Dynamo Kyiv were 2-0 up after the first leg but Les Verts, and the flamboyant 21-year-old Rocheteau in particular, could whip up a special atmosphere at their Stade Geoffroy Guichard. After 90 minutes of the return, the tie was 2-2. And just when Robert Herbin's side needed some inspiration, up popped Rocheteau to sweep home the 107th-minute winner.

Highlights: Liverpool's maiden triumph of 1977
Highlights: Liverpool's maiden triumph of 1977

David Fairclough, Liverpool FC 
There were some people in the mid-1970s who thought Fairclough's middle name was Supersub, so often did commentators mention this when he was playing. Born and raised in Anfield, the forward was already a crowd favourite when he broke into the first team in 1975.

He had gained a reputation for scoring when coming off the bench and when he was introduced by Reds boss Bob Paisley in the 72nd minute of the quarter-final return leg against St-Étienne, his side were going out on away goals. Just 12 minutes later the 20-year-old chested down Ray Kennedy's high through ball, held off the chasing defenders, and shot past Ivan Ćurković to secure his place in Anfield folklore.

Trevor Francis, Nottingham Forest FC 
A goal from English football's first £1m player had won the trophy for his new club, Forest, in 1979 and Francis was at it again as the City Ground club marched on to a second successive final. His performance in the return leg of the 1980 quarter-final showed just why his manager, Brian Clough, had decided to splash all that cash. Forest lost the first leg at home to Berliner FC Dynamo, but Francis inspired a 3-1 triumph in Berlin. For his second goal he received the ball with his back to goal, feinted one way, turned the other and shot into the near top corner.

©Getty Images

Michel Platini, Juventus 
Giovanni Trapattoni's Juve contained six of Italy's recently crowned world champions and two new arrivals who had been the stars of the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain: Zbigniew Boniek and Platini. Even in that stellar Juventus lineup, Platini was the main man. By March 1983 he was settling into life in Turin, and Aston Villa FC felt the full force of his influence in the quarter-finals.

His exquisite pass, struck from the sticky middle of the Villa Park pitch, sent Polish international Boniek clear to put the Bianconeri 2-1 up in the first leg. The Frenchman went on to score twice in Italy to send his team into the semis, where they faced RTS Widzew Łódź.

Enzo Scifo, RSC Anderlecht 
The Belgian giants were enjoying a purple patch in the early 1980s. They had reached the semi-finals in 1982 and won the UEFA Cup the next year. By 1985/86 they had the brilliant Scifo, still only 20, at the peak of his playmaking powers. They drew Bayern in the quarter-final and the Germans took a two-goal first-half lead in the first leg. Anderlecht's hopes were raised with a late reply and Scifo turned the tie around in Brussels, putting Anderlecht ahead on the night before a second put Arie Haan's side through.

Highlights: Steaua's unlikely triumph of '86
Highlights: Steaua's unlikely triumph of '86

Marius Lăcătuş, FC Steaua Bucureşti 
The Romanian forward will forever be known as one of only two players to score in the shoot-out that won the 1986 trophy for Steaua. Yet his attacking brilliance was shown to more typical effect three years later in the quarter-final against IFK Göteborg. Bolstered by the emergence of Gheorghe Hagi, Steaua were, if anything, a stronger side in 1989 than the one that won the competition. Göteborg would certainly agree. They won the first leg of their quarter-final 1-0, but a Lăcătuş hat-trick inspired Steaua to a thrilling 5-1 win in Romania.

Dmitri Radchenko, FC Spartak Moskva 
Di Stéfano's Real Madrid must have left Moscow in March 1991 feeling pretty content after holding Spartak to a 0-0 draw in sub-zero temperatures on an uneven Lenin Stadium pitch. Yet the return leg did not go according to plan for the Spanish club. The main reason for that was 20-year-old Russian striker Dmitri Radchenko.

Unfazed by Emilio Butragueño putting Madrid ahead early on, Radchenko produced two sharp finishes to give his side the lead. A third, from Valeri Shmarov stunned the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu into silence. The outstanding Radchenko earned a move to Real Racing Club in Santander as a result of his efforts.


George Weah, Paris Saint-Germain 
A prolific first season in the UEFA Champions League played a big part in Weah winning the European Footballer of the Year award in 1995 – the first African player to do so. Away to Bayern in the group stage, he capped a slaloming run that took out four defenders with a fine finish – not bad for someone who had expected to spend the trip shopping until David Ginola was injured. Weah headed a valuable away goal at Camp Nou in the last eight to earn Paris a 1-1 draw in the first leg against Barça, giving the Ligue 1 side the confidence that helped them to a 2-1 win in the return.

Eric Cantona, Manchester United FC
It was United's first quarter-final appearance since 1969 – and the first time an English side had made the last eight in more than a decade. And the Frenchman who had inspired United to their first league title in 26 years was having the same effect in Europe.

Against FC Porto in the quarter-finals, Cantona conducted an attacking performance of such pace and verve that many United fans consider it the team's greatest display. Cantona scored to put United two up after 34 minutes, but it was his pass – from the left-back position – that released Andy Cole to set up Ryan Giggs for the third that summed up United's fast counterattacking style.

©Getty Images

Andriy Shevchenko, FC Dynamo Kyiv 
Kyiv's strike partnership of Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov had already scored 13 goals as the Ukrainian champions reached a quarter-final against holders Madrid. Shevchenko, 22, put his side ahead in Spain, from a Rebrov flick-on. Madrid equalised but it was advantage Kyiv. Shevchenko forged his reputation in the return leg. He won and converted a penalty to put his side ahead then finished brilliantly to put the holders out and Kyiv into their first semi-final in 12 years.

Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF 
United supporters could not help but show their appreciation when Ronaldo was subbed after 67 minutes of the return leg at Old Trafford. The Brazilian striker had scored a hat-trick that settled a breathtaking tie 6-5 on aggregate in Madrid's favour. Ronaldo had needed Guti's sublime pass to score his first, and Zinédine Zidane and Roberto Carlos to set up his second, but he scored a thumping third all on his own to enthral the watching world.

©Getty Images

Frank Lampard, Chelsea FC 
He would go on to score in the 2008 final, but it was in this quarter-final against Bayern that Lampard announced his attacking prowess to the world with his three goals in the tie. Two emphatic finishes at Stamford Bridge, in a 4-2 win, summed him up: left-footed shots, converted with clinical accuracy, swung the tie Chelsea's way. A right-footed effort from distance helped close it out in Munich.

Ryan Giggs, Manchester United FC 
Giggs and United were no strangers to spectacular comebacks, the then captain Giggs being the sole survivor from United's dramatic 1999 UEFA Champions League final victory. This was almost as memorable. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg away to AS Roma, United were three up after 19 minutes of the return and ended up winning 7-1. Giggs, aged 33, created four goals with a combination of still startling speed and killer passes. "It was our best ever," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "A fantastic performance by every one of our players."

Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona 
Picking out just one Messi quarter-final is a thankless task, but the 2009 tie against Bayern could be his finest. The first leg was him – and Barça – at their very best. The speed with which they moved the ball, and the sharpness of the attacking triumvirate of Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry, made the Blaugrana irresistible. Messi scored twice and helped create goals for Eto'o and Henry. "Messi is a great – it is a pleasure to see him play," said Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann.

©Getty Images

Koke, Club Atlético de Madrid 
Atleti had not featured in a semi-final since 1974 so there was a lot at stake at Estadio Vicente Calderón for the quarter-final return leg against Barcelona. In 30 previous UEFA competition games for Atlético, Koke, the 22-year-old playmaker, had not scored. So, with the tie level at 1-1 after the first leg at Camp Nou, it was fitting that the player who was only six when he joined Atleti, would score the winner. His place in his club's history was secure.

Champions Matchday is the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League and is available in print or free to download in digital format. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.