Mesut Ozil and a Liverpool superstar, Heung-Min Son and a Manchester United legend – Eight more duos you didn’t know were teammates

Over the years, we’ve grown to remember some of the iconic duos we’ve witnessed on a football pitch.

Whether it was Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, or Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp, their historic partnerships live on.

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Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton helped Blackburn to the title with their stunning partnership

But also, there are players you sometimes forget were teammates, their spell together lost to the annals of time.

The history books will tell us they shared the pitch, as will TV footage, but somehow the knowledge of them co-existing in the same place is forgotten.

Never fear, though, every now and again our minds need a collective jog, the cobwebs brushed aside and cogs nudged into gear – and talkSPORT is happy to do this for you.

So, we’re digging deep into our memory banks, dredging our grey matter and bringing you eight pairs of players you forgot played together – and this is just part one.


Mohamed Salah and a Premier League title winner, Kylian Mbappe and Chelsea legend – Eight duos you didn’t know were teammates


Raphael Varane and Serge Aurier (Lens)

The Frenchman and the Ivorian are 27 and were both academy graduates at Lens.

Varane’s debut came in 2010, around a year after Aurier’s first appearance for the club, however the former’s quality was so evident that by the end of the 2010/11 campaign he had already been snapped up by Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho.

What is perhaps more surprising is that the duo both broke fully into the Lens side in the season they were relegated to Ligue 2.

While Spain’s capital awaited Varane in the summer, Aurier would have to spend five months in the second tier before being signed by Toulouse.

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Raphael Varane celebrates a goal for Lens

Fabinho and Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)

Some of you may not have even realised Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder was even at the Spanish giants, let alone alongside Arsenal’s enigmatic ace.

It was only a fleeting partnership, we must stress, given Fabinho only spent one year on loan in Madrid and even then was just joining their B-Team on-loan from Rio Ave in Portugal.

But, towards the end of the campaign, he got his first-team shot as a substitute against Malaga in May 2013.

Ozil started the match in midfield alongside Michael Essian, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso, with Fabinho replacing full-back Fabio Coentrao after 76 minutes.

He then joined Monaco on loan the following and made his name, while Ozil moved to Arsenal.

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Fabinho in his short cameo against Malaga for Real Madrid’s senior side

David de Gea and Florent Sinama Pongolle (Atletico Madrid)

Ex-Liverpool forward Sinama Pongolle had a weird old career, didn’t he?

You may not even remember he rocked up at Atletico (for £8m!) for a season and a half back in 2008 following a productive spell with Recreativo.

A year later, injury and international journey saw him thrust into the limelight, and by the end of the campaign he’d made 35 senior appearances in LaLiga and the Champions League.

Along the way, even though Atletico had Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, Sinama Pongolle popped up every now and again in the first half of the campaign before he signed for Sporting Lisbon.

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Chelsea defender John Terry vies with Florent Sinama Pongolle in the Champions League

Heung-Min Son and Ruud van Nistelrooy (Hamburg)

If you wondered why Son’s finishing is so good, we think we might now know why.

The South Korean ace’s first move to Europe was with the former Bundesliga side and his breakthrough into the first-team coincided with the arrival of striker Van Nistelrooy from Real Madrid.

Dutch ace Van Nistelrooy had joined the club in January 2010, while Son was playing for the club’s second team, and during the 2010/11 campaign the two combined in several matches.

Back in November 2010, Van Nistelrooy recalled just how talented his teammate was, saying: “After a training session, you can see that he is something special.
“Son is the future. With him, HSV will have a lot of success. He is young, has a good head, and even at the age of 18 is making a significant impact in the Bundesliga.”

Just a shame they lost him to Bayer Leverkusen, who in turn sold him onto Tottenham – not that Lilywhites fans are complaining.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy taught Heung-Min Son a lot during their spell together

Mohamed Salah and Philipp Degen (Basel)

When a Liverpool legend met a future Liverpool legend. Well, not quite.

Degen joined the Reds from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer back in 2008 but saw his time with the club ruined by injuries and in 2011 he left, also on a free, to Basel – the club where he started his career.

A year later he was joined by current Kop hero Salah, who signed for the club from Al Mokawloon.

The pair were both regulars for the Swiss giants in 2012/13 as they won the league and made the Europa League semi-finals, being beaten by Chelsea.

And the next season they were in the squad together as they beat the Blues twice in the Champions League group stages, with Salah getting a goal in both games.

Degen, though, would have to spend both matches on the bench and within a couple of months the Londoners had bought the Egyptian – not that they used him.

Eventually Degen would retire in 2016, while Salah is now thrilling the Premier League and the whole of the world.

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Neither Degen nor Salah could stop Mousa Dembele – but they did help Basel beat Tottenham in the Europa League

Serge Gnabry and Darren Fletcher (West Brom)

We all know about the ex-Arsenal man’s bad spell with the Baggies where he managed just three appearances but the men who played with him are a little surprising too.

Fletcher, a former Manchester United star, spent two and half years at the Hawthorns and it coincided with Gnabry’s ill-fated time there.

The two spent 12 minutes on the same pitch together in the German’s debut against Chelsea in the Premier League, while they then had 57 minutes together in the League Cup against Port Vale.

You have to say the Bayern Munich star has really bounced back from this part of his career.

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Serge Gnabry in one of his three appearances for West Brom

Kyle Walker and Adebayo Akinfenwa (Northampton)

England international and Man City ace Walker started his career with Sheffield United but only played twice for them in the league before joining Tottenham in 2009.

In fact, he actually made more appearances for Northampton than his boyhood club, starting nine games in League One in 2008.

And while he was at Sixfields Stadium with the Cobblers he spent 188 minutes in the team alongside the strongest man in football, Akinfenwa.

If you want a little bonus fact, ex-Manchester United and Leicester City goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler was also at Northampton at this point, although he wasn’t on the pitch with the duo.

Meanwhile, just because we like you, here’s another one – Walker and Akinfenwa faced Tim Krul together for 20 minutes when the Dutch goalkeeper was on loan at Carlisle.

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Southend United really wanted to get the ball off Kyle Walker

Kevin De Bruyne and Sokratis (Werder Bremen)

The Belgian and the Greek were together for just one season in 2012/13 and, perhaps surprisingly, it was the lowest Bremen have finished since their promotion back to the Bundesliga back in 1981.

It was eventful for the pair with De Bruyne scoring 10 goals on loan from Chelsea and showcasing his talents, while Sokratis, in March, had a training ground bust-up with Marko Arnautovic.

There were fears about relegation as they failed to win a Bundesliga match in 13 attempts after February 9, thankfully they managed six draws which put them four points clear of the relegation zone.

Sokratis, though, got a move to Borussia Dortmund, while De Bruyne was sold by Chelsea to Wolfsburg where he really made his name.

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Kevin De Bruyne consoles Sokratis during their time together at Werder Bremen

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