The UEFA Champions League final will be contested between Inter Milan and Manchester City in Istanbul this year. The English side are looking to secure their maiden triumph, with the Italians looking to build on their European pedigree.
Many Irish players have played for the two sides over the years, and their allegiances may be pledged to either side in the upcoming final. But who are the greatest players to have played for the teams that will contest club football’s biggest trophy this June?
City are the favourites
Pep Guardiola’s side are massive favourites going into the huge clash in Turkey. They fell short in the final of 2021 against Chelsea, but this time around they will be desperate to make amends. The Manchester-based side is offered at 2/5 in a football bet for the winner inside the regular 90 minutes. They are expected to get the job done without added drama. For those betting on the Champions League odds winner, Man City are offered at 2/9 to lift the trophy if Inter are to push them all the way.
Many former Ireland internationals have lined up for the UCL favourites in the past. From defensive rocks to midfield orchestrators, a wide range of Irish talents have starred for City during their careers.
Stephen Ireland spent five years at City between the years 2005 and 2010. He oversaw a crucial period in the club’s journey, as he a key part of the team before the takeover by Sheikh Mansour. He remained a squad player in the first few years following the club’s added fortunes.
On his day Ireland was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. He was a strong passer as well as offering excellent tenacity and physicality in the middle of the park. He perhaps does not compare to the modern brilliance of the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, but he was a City great in his own right. Ireland will surely be backing his former side in their potential crowning moment in Istanbul.
Richard Dunne spent almost the entire 2000s in Manchester with the sky blue side. He was a regular in the pre-takeover team alongside Ireland. Dunne was a no-nonsense central defender, who was extremely reliable at the back for City over a long-term period. He was also a crucial leader in the turbulent City side of the early 21st century. Dunne is certainly considered somewhat of a cult hero by City fans who can remember the times before the glory days.
Happy Birthday to former City captain, Richard Dunne 🥳 pic.twitter.com/Eev4Jjj6sh
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 21, 2022
Irish players have not been quite as prevalent in the great Inter sides of the past. But Ireland’s greatest goalscorer ever happens to have spent some time in the fashion capital of Europe. Keane was signed by the Italians in a big money £13 million move in 2000. He was given a five-year deal but he was shipped out on loan just six months into his Inter career.
Robbie Keane has announced his retirement from football! 🇮🇪
👤 883 games
⚽️ 393 goals
Ireland’s all-time record appearance maker 🙌
Ireland’s all-time record goal-scorer 💪
Ireland’s best ever? 🐐 pic.twitter.com/cjJXSbY1qC
— GOAL (@goal) November 28, 2018
Keane may not hold particularly fond memories of his time in Italy, due to its premature ending. He may not be as desperate for an Inter win as his compatriots Ireland and Dunne may be wishing for a City triumph. There are Irish ties to both sides competing in this year’s final. Will European pedigree emerge victorious, or will a new European giant begin to mould its legacy?