These custodians are some of the best to ever grace the competition.

The UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle of European club football. It involves the best teams from various European leagues that compete for the ultimate prize. There is a common acceptance that the level of football and the quality of players that play in the UCL are of premium nature. 

Some of the highest appearance makers in the competition are goalkeepers. These custodians are some of the greatest ever players in history as well. Let’s take a look at the top-five goalkeepers with the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League: 

5. Victor Valdes – 106

The Spaniard is the fifth-highest appearance making goalkeeper in the UEFA Champions League. All of his 106 appearances in the competition were for FC Barcelona. The Spaniard has won the tournament thrice, in 2005/06, 2008/09 and 2010/11.

He has played 9,540 minutes during those 106 appearances as well. Valdes retired as a professional player in 2017 after featuring for English side Middlesborough as his last club. He also briefly played for Manchester United in the Premier League. 

4. Petr Cech – 111

Cech won the Champions League title with Chelsea in 2012 (Courtesy: Evening Standard)

Next up on the list is legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech. He is most popularly known for his 11 years of service for Chelsea. The former Czech Republic international featured most heavily for the Blues and recorded an overall 111 appearances in the UEFA Champions League. During that time, he banked 9,845 minutes of game time.

His sole UEFA Champions League triumph came back in 2011/12 with the London-based club. Among his many other achievements, Cech has also won the Premier League four times and was the Czech Republic footballer of the year a total of seven times. He also featured for Arsenal and retired as a professional footballer in 2019.

3. Gianluigi Buffon – 124

The Italian maestro is the goalkeeper with the joint second-highest appearances in the UEFA Champions League. The legendary custodian played 11,160 minutes across 124 matches. Unfortunately, the Italian never won the competition and it remains a missing piece in his trophy cabinet. It is even more astounding to fathom because Buffon has won 29 trophies in his career, barring the coveted European title.

He has featured in the competition mostly for Juventus, and also for Paris Saint-Germain. The 43-year-old is still actively playing but his Champions League days seem to be over in realistic terms.

2. Manuel Neuer – 124

The German shot-stopper recently equalled Buffon by making his 124th appearance in the UEFA Champions League. The custodian has featured for FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Munich in the competition over the years. The 35-year-old is the only player on the list who is currently playing in the competition.

He is currently the captain of Bayern Munich and continues to lead the side in the ongoing 2021/22 campaign. The German has also won the Champions League twice in 2012/13 and 2019/20. In addition, he also has nine Bundesliga titles with the Bavarians.

1. Iker Casillas – 177

One of the best of all time, Casillas is the goalkeeper with most appearances in the history of the UEFA Champions League. The Spaniard played a whopping 177 games in the tournament and is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in all-time appearance makers‘ list. He currently retains the record for playing the most number of minutes with 15,817, leading Ronaldo who has 15,578 minutes of Champions League action.

Casillas played for Real Madrid for the majority of his career before signing for FC Porto in 2015, which was his last club as a professional player. The custodian won the tournament a total of three times with Los Blancos in 1999/00, 2001/02 and 2013/14. As it stands, Casillas’ record could remain unbroken for many years to come, unless Neuer continues to play at the highest level for four or five years more.

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