Ten legends who never got their hands on the the Champions League trophy

  • The Champions League have produced some memorable moments over the years. We have seen the heart-breaking moments where the most deserving player had to go home empty hands. 
  • In the below article, we enlist 10 players who went on to win many accolades in domestic competitions for their respective clubs along with International glory but could never win the coveted Champions League trophy in their long career span.
  • Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, and Alfredo di Stefano have tasted the European glory five times. Meanwhile, some great players are still hoping to clinch the trophy for the first time, while others retired without tasting the European glory at club level.  

Here are the top 10 best players who have never won the Champions League. 

Gianluigi Buffon  

It is sad to see that one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time hasn't been able to get his hands on the Champions League trophy even after playing three finals. 

The Italian goalkeeper had an impressive run since his debut and had won many trophies throughout his career.The Juventus legend has won the UEFA Cup with Parma, with Juventus nine Serie A-League titles and a World Cup with Italy in 2006. 

Gianluigi Buffon
Image Credits- TheNational

However, Buffon had been to three UCL finals and still could not get his hands on the silverware, losing penalty shoot-out against AC Milan in 2003, 3-1 against Barcelona in 2015 and 4-1 against Real Madrid in 2017.          

Hence, Gigi Buffon kick-starts our list of top football players to have never won the Champions Lague. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic  

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Image credits-the AC Milan offside

Zlatan is considered as one of the best goalscorers in Europe, a player who has a cult following despite not winning major honors on the international stage.

However, he is one of the unluckiest players who has never won the Champions League. The Swedish hitman has played with top European giants; AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, PSG, and Manchester United and still could not lift the UCL trophy.

With Barcelona, he reached the semi-final in 2010, but were eliminated by Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan. Ibrahimovic had no option as he moved to MLS to play for LA Galaxy; after his tenure at La Galaxy, he is now back with AC Milan for a second stint.

Luiz Ronaldo 

Luiz Ronaldo
Image credits-Betfair

One of the finest strikers in world football, with his prowess, he destroyed teams that came on his way with clubs and at international games; no doubt he was the most deserving player to win the Champions League but his faith had a different story. 

He played for the top elite clubs of Europe, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan. Ronaldo’s best attempt came in Real Madrid’s jersey; Madrid played Juventus in the semi-final and won the second-leg 2-1; however, they lost in Turin 3-1, aggregate 4-3.

The closest he ever came to playing in the final, after he left for AC Milan and played there for two seasons, before losing his hopes of winning the prestigious European trophy and moved to Brazil where he played for Corinthians. Hence, the Brazilian legend features in our list of top players to have never won the Champions League.

Francesco Totti 

Francesco Totti
Image credits- Brila FM

Another legend on our list of top players to have never won the Champions League, Francesco Totti was the most loyal player in football. 

Totti's career spanned from 1992 until he retired in 2017; and has always been remembered as the most loyal player to the team he loved playing for, AS Roma

Totti won everything as an AS Roma player except the Champions League as Roma were never a strong competitor in the latter stages of the competition. 

Most of the time, they were eliminated from the quarter-final stages of the competition and suffered a most humiliating defeat against Manchester united in 2007, losing 8-3 in aggregate. 

Rudd van Nistelrooy 

van Nistelrooy
Image credits- Irish mirror

Rudd van Nistelrooy has been remembered as one of the most prolific goal scorers to grace the game. He played for the two biggest clubs, Manchester United and Real Madrid

During his five-year spell at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, the team never went past the semi-finals, and when he left the Red Devils for Real Madrid, a couple of years after his departure, Man United won the UCL against Chelsea in Moscow. 

Despite being one of the top players who have never won the Champions League, the dutch hitman was the competitions’ top scorer in three different seasons. 

Michael Ballack 

Michael Ballack
Image credits- Irish Mirror

Michael Ballack was one of the most decorated midfielders to grace the game, and however, the unluckiest player too. He played in the Champions League with four different teams, FC Kaiserslautern, Bayern Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Chelsea

He played his first final with Bayern Leverkusen in the 2001/02 final against Real Madrid, though his team put a hard fight, Real Madrid ended up winning the game 2-1.

Within six years, he played another final with Chelsea in Moscow against Manchester United, with John Terry's infamous slip while taking the penalty caused a dent to his Champions League hopes.    

Pavel Nedved

Image credits-

Pavel Nedved was a top player for Juventus’, who helped the team in many crucial games. However, Nedved features on our list of those players who never won the Champions League. 

The Juventus midfielder was having a season of his life when they defeated the defending champions of 2001/02 season Real Madrid and reached the UCL final; where they met AC Milan. 

However, he couldn’t play the match due to a yellow card suspension in the previous game, which saw his team lose 3-2 in penalties. 

Eric Cantona 

Eric Cantona
Image credits-The42

Next on our list of top players who have never won the Champions League is a Manchester United legend from the 90s. 

'King Eric' is considered a cult legend at Manchester United. The opponents used to fear him with his goalscoring abilities which made him the king of Old Trafford. The Frenchman won four League titles with Red Devils.

However, he was never able to deliver in the Champions League for the Red Devils. The only time he ever hoped of winning the UCL when he led the team to the UCL semi-final in 1997, where they lost to Borussia Dortmund.

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann
Image credits-Fan Sided

Antoine Griezmann is another of those top players to have never won the Champions League. The 30-year-old World Cup winner who currently plays for Barcelona had been through many rough moments. 

During his spell at Atletico Madrid, he had a very disappointing campaign in the Champions League. The French striker had a chance to win the 2015-16 UCL final, but they lost to Real Madrid 5-4 in penalties,  However, they met again in the semi-final of the 2016/17 season, but they were knocked out by Real Madrid again.

Later he joined Barcelona in 2019 and is still hoping to lift the Champions League with them.

Cesc Fabregas 

Cesc Febregas
Image Credits:

One of the most talented midfielders of his generation, Cesc Fabregas played for top European teams including Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea

Started his career at Arsenal, where he won numerous trophies except the Champions League, later he moved to Barcelona in the hope of winning the UCL. 

The Spaniard won some big trophies like UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona but still failed to get his hands on the ultimate glory of the Champions League.   

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