The Champions League – surely the biggest tournament in club football – and something all players aspire to win. The legacy of many players is directly linked to their performances in the Champions League. While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have won countless titles, some of the most well-known players in football haven’t been able to add this title to their resume. So read on to take a look at the top ten players who never got the chance to hold the Champions League trophy aloft.
10. Ruud van Nistelrooy
Despite playing for two of the biggest clubs in world football – Manchester United and Real Madrid, van Nistelrooy never claimed Champions League glory. He failed to ever reach a final either. He ended up joining United two years after their 1999 victory, and left Madrid before their domination in the 2010s.
9. Pavel Nedved
The Czech legend missed the 2003 final, where his Juventus side lost on penalties to AC Milan. Despite a slew of personal records and awards, he wasn’t ever able to win this trophy. He is still adored by the Juventus fans, however.
8. Michael Ballack
Ballack is commonly regarded as one of the finest German players of all time. He came heart-breakingly close on two occasions to lifting the Champions League trophy. His Bayer Levurkusen side lost out to Real Madrid in the 2002 final, before Chelsea lost to Man Utd on penalties in the 2008 edition.
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7, Patrick Vieira
Vieira, like many on this list, played for a number of top European clubs. The Frenchman was an Arsenal legend, but wasn’t ever able to inspire them to glory. Later spells at Juventus and Inter Milan failed to deliver the title either. He did however enjoy success at international level. But it was a case of what might have been.
6. Lilian Thuram
Another French legend – Lilian Thuram is an unbelievable addition to this list. He was part of the Juventus team that lost to AC Milan in the 2003 final. He left Juventus in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal of 2005, joining Barcelona. Barcelona had just won the Champions League. He would leave the club the season before they won it again. Right man, wrong time.
5. Francesco Totti
The ultimate one-club man, Totti remained loyal to AS Roma throughout his glittering career, which spanned a remarkable quarter of a century. Unfortunately, in that time, Roma rarely competed for the top European honours.
4. Fabio Cannavaro
2006 World Cup and Ballon d’or winner, and widely regarded as one of the best centre backs of all time, yet Fabio Cannavaro never won the Champions League. He played for Juventus and Real Madrid during a glittering career, but couldn’t replicate his international success at club level.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
One of the finest striker’s of all time, Ibrahimovic has proven himself to be a serial winner – winning league titles in Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France. The Swede won the Europa League with Manchester United last season, and as he steps up his recovery, will hope to inspire the club to glory in the second half of this season.
2. Gianluigi Buffon
Buffon has suffered a defeat in the final on three occasions. Buffon is one of the most decorated goalkeeper’s in the world. The Italian is set to retire at the end of this season, meaning this campaign represents the final chance for him to claim glory. He did win the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
An incredible striker, and had it not been for injuries, the Brazilian Ronaldo may well have gone on to have been the best player of all time. Despite playing for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan, Ronaldo never even made it to a final. He was a striker like no other, and is the best player to have never won the illusive Champions League.
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