The UEFA Champions League – the holy grail of European club football and easily the most prestigious club football tournament in the world. A challenging tournament format with group and knockout stages, it is a trophy that only the best of the best have ever laid their hands on.
But at the same time, there have been some football legends that have never lifted the coveted trophy. No matter how many accolades they have won in club football, their resumes are sadly incomplete without Europe’s top honour. Here is a list of ten of the best who have never won the Champions League.
Updated in February 2017
Only three players have won the FIFA Player of the Year thrice and Ronaldo is the only one who hasn’t won the Champions League (Zidane and Messi being the other two). Between 1993 and 2008, Il Fenomeno played for various European clubs like Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Perhaps the most complete striker in the recent past, Ronaldo has also won the FIFA World Cup twice with Brazil. He was also the highest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup with 15 goals before Miroslav Klose broke the record.
But in spite of scoring 49 goals in European competitions, Ronaldo never got to win the Champions League. Perhaps his biggest opportunity to win the trophy was with the Galacticos at Real Madrid when he partnered Figo, Zidane, Raul, Roberto Carlos and Beckham.
Even though he scored 104 goals for Real Madrid, the club failed in their attempts to win an unprecedented tenth title at the time. His only European triumph was a UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in 1998 and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with Barcelona in 1997.
2) Roberto Baggio
Arguably one of the best players of all time and one of the top scoring Italian strikers of all time, it’s almost heartbreaking that Il Divin’ Codino has never won the Champions League. Having spent five seasons at Juventus, where he was at his most prolific in front of goal, Baggio left the Turin club in 1995.
And the very next season, Juventus won the Champions League when they defeated Ajax in the final after a penalty shootout. But Baggio didn’t leave Juventus empty handed as he did lead the club to a UEFA Cup triumph over Borussia Dortmund in 1993, scoring two and setting up a third.
But it’s almost tragic that every time Baggio’s name is mentioned, the first memory that comes to mind is that missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup final. A Champions League trophy might have changed that perception.