Champions League: Ranking the competition's biggest legends from 'GOAT' to 'Never won it'

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“The chaaaaaaaampions.”

It’s back, ladies and gentleman.

The greatest competition in football returns tonight and it returns in style.

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig vs Liverpool will mark the return of the Champions League - and we can’t wait.

We’re so excited, in fact, that we’ve decided to look back at some of the best players in the competition’s history and rank them.

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Using Tiermaker, we’ve decided to categorise some of the greatest players to have participated in the competition from ‘Champions League GOAT’ to ‘Never won the competition.’

We must state that we were unable to pick the players ourselves. We’re as outraged as you that there is no Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez or Robert Lewandowski.

But without further ado, let’s take a look:

Never won the competition

- Gianluigi Buffon
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Cesc Fabregas
- Michael Ballack

Four world-class players but, ultimately, four players to have failed to win Europe’s elite competition. Buffon seemingly won't retire until he's got his hands on it, while Zlatan has somehow avoided it despite playing for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

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Won it once

- Thierry Henry
- Petr Cech
- Andriy Shevchenko
- David Beckham
- Arjen Robben
- Philipp Lahm
- Frank Lampard
- John Terry
- Ashley Cole
- Patrice Evra
- Luis Figo
- Oliver Khan
- Javier Zanetti
- Claude Makelele
- Bastian Schweinsteiger
- Rio Ferdinand
- Maxwell

Huge names everywhere you look and their career highlight may well have been lifting this famous trophy. In truth, you do wonder how some of them only managed to win the competition once - especially the likes of Shevchenko, Robben and Figo.

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Won it multiple times

- Iker Casillas
- Ryan Giggs
- Paul Scholes
- Gerard Pique
- Roberto Carlos
- Andrea Pirlo
- Carles Puyol
- Gary Neville
- Dani Alves
- Victor Valdes
- Sergio Busquets
- Thomas Muller
- Manuel Neuer
- Filippo Inzaghi
- Edwin van der Sar
- Pepe
- Guti
- Javier Mascherano
- Toni Kroos

Many of these players featured for Real Madrid or Barcelona so that gives them a huge advantage in this competition.

Those who didn’t feature for either of the Spanish giants include Manchester United trio Giggs, Scholes and Neville who won it twice for the same club. Pirlo and Inzaghi won it twice with AC Milan while Muller and Neuer have won it on two occasions with Bayern Munich.

Van der Sar managed to win it with two different clubs in Ajax and Man Utd.

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Legendary

- Lionel Messi
- Raul
- Paolo Maldini
- Xavi
- Andres Iniesta
- Clarence Seedorf
- Sergio Ramos
- Karim Benzema

Proper Champions League legends here.

Raul was the competitions record goalscorer before the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo came along.

Maldini has won the European Cup five times - although two of these came before the new Champions League format.

Xavi and Iniesta played an important role in Barcelona winning the competition in 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Seedorf remains the only player to have won the competition with three different sides (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan)

Ramos and Benzema helped Real Madrid win the competition three years in a row from 2015/16 to 2017/18.

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Champions League GOAT

- Cristiano Ronaldo

Who else? He’s won the competition on five occasions - one for Manchester United and four for Real Madrid.

He’s scored 134 goals in 174 appearances in the competition and, if he leads Juventus to glory this season, will surely remain the GOAT of the Champions League forever.

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Final rankings

So, there we have it.

Our rankings have no doubt split opinion but the majority of it is black and white. We can't help the fact the likes of Buffon, Ibrahimovich, Fabregas and Ballack haven't won the competition. 

While there's no arguing that some players have only won it once. 

It's deciding whether some players belong in the 'Won it multiple times' or are good enough to be in the 'Legendary' category. We've reserved that tier for some of the greatest that have graced the competition.

But there can only be one Champions League GOAT.

Messi may have bragging rights in general football but you can't deny that Ronaldo and his five Champions League triumphs is the competition's greatest right now.

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