These players have made scoring goals on big European nights a habit and some have attained legendary status in the process
The UEFA Champions League is without doubt the stratosphere of footballing glory and its highest scorers are some of the best players in the world. The annual competition features the best European football clubs containing some of the best players in the sport competing against each other. It has produced moments of euphoria, glory, magic, and agony which make it the great sporting spectacle that it is.
The Champions League is considered the biggest prize in club football and many clubs and players make it their perennial ambition to get their hands on the illustrious trophy. Among the many who have, a few have had the privilege of winning the trophy and this was through their stellar efforts on the pitch for their respective sides.
Today, we will take a look at the top 10 highest goalscorers in Europe’s premier club football competition.
10. Andriy Shevchenko – 48 goals
Former Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko scored 48 goals in his UCL career for three teams – youth club Dynamo Kyiv, Chelsea and AC Milan. Considered one of the finest strikers of his generation, the Ukrainian’s goals fetched him a Champions League crown in 2003 with Milan.
He also finished a runner-up in the 2004-05 season, when he missed the decisive penalty in the shootout against Liverpool, handing them a miraculous win.
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 48 goals
Zlatan has scored 48 goals in 121 games which he featured in for six of Europe’s most illustrious clubs: FC Barcelona, Paris-Saint Germain, AC and Inter Milan, Ajax ,and Juventus, proving that despite changing so many teams his goalscoring never dipped.
For all his efforts though, Zlatan has never win a Champions League crown in his career and it could be the only trophy that eludes him in his club career.
8. Thomas Muller – 49 goals
We start off with FC Bayern Munich attacker Thomas Muller who has scored 49 goals in 127 games for the Bavarian outfit. It is without doubt that Muller can stake claim to being one of Bayern’s best ever players. The German is the club’s most decorated player with 27 trophies and has two UEFA Champions League titles to show among them in 2013 and last season.
Both titles came as part of Bayern winning the historic treble and there is simply nothing that Muller hasn’t won in his career with both club and country.
7. Thierry Henry – 50 goals
Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry scored 50 goals in 112 games for AS Monaco, the Gunners and FC Barcelona. The legendary Frenchman almost won the title in his days in North London, losing out in the final against his future employers Barcelona in 2006.
But, Henry more than made up for it as he won the crown with Barcelona in 2008-09 as part of a trio consisting of him, a young Lionel Messi, and Samuel Eto’o. Henry was part of the Blaugrana team that completed an unprecedented sextuple- winning every major trophy in 2009.
6. Ruud van Nistelrooy – 56 goals
The Dutchman is one of two people in this list who never won an UEFA Champions League title (along with Zlatan), but that didn’t stop him from scoring a bundle of goals for teams such as PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid.
In 73 games that he played in Europe’s elite football competition for these three teams, Van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals at a rate of 0.77 goals/game, a ratio better than Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.
5. Raul Gonzalez – 71 goals
The Real Madrid youth product remains the highest goalscorer among non-active players. He scored 71 goals in 142 games in the competition, with the majority of them coming for Real Madrid (66). For his efforts, Raul lifted the Champions League title on three occasions, all with Los Blancos.
Raul was also the first footballer to make 100 appearances in the UEFA Champions League.
4. Karim Benzema – 79 goals
Karim Benzema has arguably been the most consistent performer for Real Madrid over the last few years and has been their saving grace on multiple occasions.
Benzema has enjoyed a very fruitful career at the Spanish capital, especially in the Champions League, scoring 73 goals in 133 games across spells at Lyon and now Real Madrid. He has won four Champions League trophies, including the hat-trick of titles with Real between 2015 to 2018.
3. Robert Lewandowski – 85 goals
The highest goalscorer last season, Lewandowski is in the form of his life. But, the prolific Pole has always been a consistent scorer in the competition and now stands at third place with 78 goals in 99 games.
After coming close on many occasions, Lewandowski’s consistency and patience bore fruit as he finally got his hands on the biggest prize in club football when Bayern won the Champions League last season and thereby completed the second treble in their history, becoming only the second club after FC Barcelona to do so.
2. Lionel Messi -125 goals
Lionel Messi has to feature in any and every list of elite goalscorers. The legendary Argentine has put goalscoring records to waste in domestic and continental football and continues to be among the goals.
Messi has won four Champions League titles, taking Barcelona’s tally from one trophy to five in just under a decade. In the process, Messi has notched up an incredible 123 goals in 152 games for Barcelona and PSG at a rate of 0.81 goals/game. His tally is the highest by any player for a single club.
Messi is one of only two players (alongside Luiz Adriano) to have scored five goals in a in a single match in the Champions League and has scored the joint most number of hat-tricks in the competition (8, tied with Cristiano Ronaldo)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 140 goals
When it comes to the UEFA Champions League, no discussion is complete without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has made it a habit of performing on the big European nights which has, in turn, elevated his status to being arguably the best-ever player in the competition’s history. Captain of Portugal is also top scorer of UEFA Euro Cup.
Ronaldo has accomplished and broken every record imaginable in the Champions League, most goals (137), most goals in a single season (17), joint-most number of hat-tricks (8), the first player to score 100 Champions League goals and the first player to score 100 Champions League goals for a single club (105 – Real Madrid). The list is endless and shows the level that the legendary Portuguese forward possesses when it comes to the biggest competition in club football.
** This article was last updated on March 11, 2022.