With a history dating back almost six decades, the UEFA Champions League, formerly called the European Cup, is undeniably the greatest club competition in the world. Several great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have shone like a million stars in the competition.
The Champions League has evolved from its days as a straight knockout tournament exclusively for league champions to the now revamped and more inclusive edition we have since 1992. However, the Champions League has had no shortage of world-beaters and genuine legends who have created everlasting memories with their performances.
Among the scores of legends and greats who have graced the Champions League, one man stands tall above everyone else. He is arguably the greatest player in the history of the UEFA Champions League; his name is Cristiano Ronaldo.
On that note, let us have a rundown of five reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo is the GOAT (Greatest of all time) when it comes to the UEFA Champions League.
Five reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player in the history of the UEFA Champions League:
#5: Cristiano Ronaldo has produced several defining individual performances
Of all the many monikers that Cristiano Ronaldo has amassed throughout his legendary career, 'Mr. Champions League' is perhaps the one that is the most telling.
There is something about the UEFA Champions League that brings out the best in the Portuguese international. While he has made a mark in several other competitions, none have been as memorable or iconic as in the Champions League.
Right from his days at Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo has always upped the ante when it came to the Champions League. He seems to thrive best when his team is written off, rising to the occasion almost single-handedly to drag his side to glory.
Two Champions League hat-tricks against the notoriously compact Atletico Madrid respectively helped Real Madrid and Juventus advance at the expense of Los Colchoneros.
Another hat-trick in the 2016 Champions League quarterfinal helped Real Madrid overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Wolfsburg. A five-goal haul against Bayern Munich across two legs in 2017 set Madrid on their way to becoming the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.
Indeed, other players can lay claim to a handful of iconic individual performances in the competition. But Cristiano Ronaldo has an entire catalogue of defining individual displays in the Champions League, and it is for this reason that nobody comes close to him as the greatest in the history of the competition.
#4: Cristiano Ronaldo prominently starred in each of his teams' Champions League triumphs
With five Champions League triumphs, Cristiano Ronaldo sits joint-second in the list of players with the most titles in the competition history, with only the great Paco Gento sitting ahead of him with six wins. However, Ronaldo has the most titles of any player in the Champions League era.
While Gento had other Real Madrid stalwarts like Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas as the driving forces behind his six triumphs in the competition, the reverse is true for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Right from his Manchester United days when the then 23-year-old fired the Premier League giants to glory in 2008 to his four wins with Real Madrid, the Madeira native has always been central to each of his side's triumphs in the Champions League.
He ended as the top goalscorer in every edition of the Champions League he won, while several individual displays played no small part in firing both Real Madrid and Manchester United's most recent triumphs in the competition.