Retirement, Australia and the Champions League – Where are Man Utd winners of Middlesbrough in 2015 now

Middlesbrough travel to Old Trafford on Friday night where they hope to repeat the heroism of their 2015 predecessors.

It was Boro’s last time meeting Manchester United in cup competition and saw Aitor Karanka’s Championship side record a League Cup penalty shoot-out victory.

This Boro side will earn promotion to the Premier League later in the season, but what about the 18 players who were in Boro’s squad that night?

Some are retired and others are still playing. We take a look at where they all are ahead of the Boro trip on Friday.

Tomas Mejias

The Spaniard was the penalty shootout hero as he saved penalty kicks from Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young. After a second stint at Boro, he left in January 2021 to settle in Ankaraspor in Turkey. He moved again in October and now plays in the Australian League A for Western Sydney Wanderers.

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Tomas Kalas

Boro’s win came on Kalas’ second loan spell at Middlesbrough. Following promotion, there was talk of the Czech defender returning for a third spell, but nothing materialized and he instead spent two seasons at Fulham before a final loan spell from Chelsea to Bristol City. In the summer of 2019, the Robins paid a club record fee to sign him permanently and he now remains with Championship rivals Boro.

jack stephens

Stephens spent half that season on loan from Southampton, but the Manchester United win was one of five appearances he would make. He was recalled and instead loaned out to Coventry for the remainder of the campaign. Although he didn’t settle on Teesside, he has since returned to St Mary’s and is a member of the first team which made 22 appearances last season.

Daniel Ayala

One of the players who left the club when his contract expired in 2020 before the end of the extended season, Ayala initially struggled to find a new club. Eventually he would sign for Blackburn where he remains today and is therefore a direct rival to Boro for promotion. He was an unused sub in the recent loss at Ewood Park.

George friend

Always held in such high regard at Boro, Friend left the same summer as Ayala, but there was no danger he would ever see this final season and ensure Boro avoid relegation. He joined Birmingham after free, reuniting with Aitor Karanka. And although the Spaniard has since left, Friend is still part of Lee Bowyer’s plans at St Andrew’s.

Ben Gibson

After leaving Boro for a big move to Burnley, Gibson didn’t get the opportunities his talent deserved. He would spend last season on loan at Norwich City to help them return to the Premier League before signing permanently at Carrow Road. After initial struggles in the top flight led to the sacking of Daniel Farke, the Canaries have recently shown some life under Dean Smith, with Gibson a regular alongside them.

Grant Leadbitter

The skip made an emotional return to Sunderland in January 2019 before retiring at the end of last season. He may be a Mackem, but he will forever be a favorite at Middlesbrough. Considering his next step after his playing career, including taking up his coaching badges, he recently received a huge ovation at the Riverside as he returned to say goodbye ahead of a home game this season.



Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing, Grant Leadbitter and Ben Gibson celebrate their win

Emilio Nsue

Boro sold Nsue to Birmimgham in January 2017. He only stayed there for a year before joining APOEL in Cyprus. He left at the end of his contract last July and at 32, he has since been a free agent.

Carlos de Pena

The Uruguayan striker made just 11 appearances for Boro before his contract was terminated in the summer of 2017. After a first return to his home country, he returned to Europe in 2019, joining Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev. Since then, he has won the top league title, two Ukrainian cups and two super cups. He also played 14 Champions League matches.

Stewart Downing

Following the end of his second stint at Boro, Downing would reunite with Tony Mowbray at Blackburn before ending his career last summer. He now makes regular media appearances and is one of Sky Sports’ regular EFL pundits.

Kike Garcia

The Spaniard left Boro in January 2016 to join Eibar in Spain but a late registration kept him out of action for the rest of the season. When he finally started playing in La Liga, he was a regular there for the next five seasons. The 31-year-old made headlines last season when he netted a hat-trick against Deprtivo in a 3-0 win – it was also the club’s first hat-trick in the Spanish top flight. His 12 goals last season couldn’t save Eibar from relegation but earned him a top-flight stay when he signed for Osasuna.

Dimi Konstantopoulos

Dimi still lives in Teesside. After leaving Boro he returned to Hartlepool and also played local non-league football. He is now a goalkeeping coach at Hartlepool, working with former Boro coach Graeme Lee.

Fernando Amorebieta

The centre-back has made 21 appearances over two loan spells from Fulham. Now 36, he recently spent time in Argentina and his home country of Venezuela. Although he is not officially retired, he has been without a club since last January.

Adam Clayton

Like Friend, Clayton moved to Birmingham in 2020 to reunite with Karanka. But he failed to get regular games and was released in November. During last month’s transfer window, he signed a two-year contract with League One side Doncaster Rovers.

Diego Fabbrini

The Italian midfielder made 26 appearances for Boro and scored six goals. Now 31, he joined Serie B side Alessandria last month in a deal that includes an option to buy Ascoli.

adam jackson

The Darlington-born defender was benched at Old Trafford but left Boro in 2016 without ever making a first-team appearance. After three years at Barnsley he joined Hibernian for a season and has since been in League One with Lincoln City.

David Nugent

The only Boro player to miss a penalty at Old Trafford (sorry David!), Nugent has been a free agent since the end of last season. He’s not officially retired but at 36 he might struggle to find another club.

Bruno Zuculini

The midfielder was on loan from Manchester City but only made six appearances in the first half of the season before joining AEK Athens instead. Now 28, he left Manchester in 2017 and is currently back in Argentina for River Plate.

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