Peter Schmeichel kept goal the last time Sporting CP played away to Bayer Leverkusen – UEFA.com recalls who lined up alongside him for that UEFA Champions League game in 2000.
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A year after succumbing to Wolfsburg, Sporting CP visit Germany again in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. Their opponents this time are Bayer Leverkusen, where they lost 3-2 during the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League group stage – their first appearance in the competition after winning a long overdue Portuguese Liga title the previous season.
1. Peter Schmeichel
Schmeichel joined Sporting in summer 1999, fresh from winning the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United, and in his debut season in Lisbon he helped the Lions clinch their first Portuguese Liga title in 18 years. He left at the end of his second campaign, returning to England, where he played for Aston Villa and Manchester City before retiring in 2003.
A product of the Sporting academy, the centre-back was captain against Leverkusen. He moved to Bordeaux in 2006 but made only four Ligue 1 appearances before switching to Recreativo Huelva, where he spent three seasons. He returned home to play for Belenenses in 2009/10 and, after retiring, served as Sporting's director for public and international relations.
The central defender was never a regular during six years with Sporting, his destination of choice after leaving Sampdoria ahead of the 2000/01 campaign. Still, he won a Portuguese Liga title, a Portuguese Cup and two Portuguese Super Cups, eventually cutting ties with the club when he signed for Vitória de Setubal. He hung up his boots in 2012/13 after four seasons with Beira-Mar.
4. Pavel Horvath
The former Czech Republic midfielder was another of Sporting's new faces for the 2000/01 season but failed to make his mark in Portugal and departed for Galatasaray a year later in a part-exchange deal involving Mário Jardel. Spells with Teplice and Sparta Praha sandwiched two years in the J-League in the mid-2000s. He would experience more UEFA Champions League football with Viktoria Plzeň, for whom he played until he was 40.
5. Ricardo Sá Pinto
On target against Leverkusen, Sá Pinto finished his second spell with the club in 2006 as a firm fans' favourite. Briefly with Standard Liège in 2006/07, he moved into coaching and was appointed Sporting boss in 2011/12, holding the position for eight months. The former forward steered Belenenses into the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage but was dismissed in December.
6. André Cruz
The free-kick specialist and erstwhile Brazilian international defender had already made a name for himself in Europe with Standard, Napoli and AC Milan before pitching up at Sporting for the 1999/2000 season. He won two league titles before returning to his homeland, calling time on his career in 2004, and now runs a football academy in Campinas and gives motivational lectures.
7. César Prates
The one-time right-back is now a priest and shepherd for an evangelical church in Brazil, a far cry from his days at Sporting, where he once told a story that he was responsible for the hairstyle of a then 17-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo when they played together in 2002/03. The former Real Madrid B player soon became a regular and had made over 80 league appearances by the time he joined Galatasaray in 2003.
8. Rui Jorge
The 2000/01 season was Rui Jorge's third at Sporting, after six years and plenty of trophies with Porto. The defender finished his playing days at Belenenses, where he started his coaching career in the club's youth setup before taking the senior job. He has been in charge of Portugal's Under-21 squad since November 2010, his greatest achievement coming last year when he guided them to the final of the European Championship in the Czech Republic.
Bino arrived at Sporting from Porto with Rui Jorge. An important backup player in the 1999/2000 title success, he could not nail down a regular place and left in summer 2001 for Tenerife. He returned to Portugal two seasons later, winding down his career at Moreirense in 2009. Now Porto's U17 coach.
10. João Pinto
One of the most gifted Portuguese footballers of the last few decades, João Pinto crossed the capital to join rivals Sporting after his release by Benfica in summer 2000. He formed an unstoppable partnership with Jardel in a very successful 2001/02 season, but his importance to the side gradually diminished and so he rejoined Boavista. Braga provided the last stop in the playing career for a man who has worked for the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) since 2011 as senior and U21 national team director.
11. Alberto Acosta:
A former Argentinian international, Acosta was 32 when he signed for Sporting in 1999. He is fondly remembered by the club’s fans, who call him 'El Matador', for his role in the 1999/2000 title triumph. The scorer of Sporting’s opener in Leverkusen left the club for San Lorenzo in 2001 with a respectable 48 goals in 99 appearances to his name. Acosta came out of retirement in 2008, aged 42, to play for forth-tier Argentinian outfit Atlético Fénix alongside his son, Mickael.
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