5 of the Best Players to Have NOT won the Champions League/European Cup

Jordan Edmonds

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Ronaldo

Cristiano has dominated the Champions League and made it his own, winning the competition five times. However, the same cannot be said for his namesake – the original, Brazilian Ronaldo – who surprisingly didn’t even play in a Champions League final.

The legendary striker turned out for some of the biggest teams in the world. After his one-year stint at Barcelona in 1996-97, he then spent five years at Inter Milan before returning to Spain and spending five years at Real Madrid. His final club in Europe was AC Milan before heading back to his native Brazil.

When looking at that list of former teams, as well as taking into account he was awarded the Ballon d’Or and named the best player in the world in 1998 and 2002, it is incredible that he never got his hands on Europe’s biggest club competition.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

At 40 years of age Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to make history, after helping AC Milan to the 2021/22 Serie A title, their first Scudetto since the 2010/11 season.

The Swede has enjoyed a glittering career which has seen him pick up league titles and domestic cups galore at the likes of Ajax, Inter, Barcelona, PSG and Milan. Ibrahimovic managed to get his hands on the Europa League with Manchester United in 2017 but has never managed to lift the big one at any of the European giants he has played for.

Ironically the closest Ibrahimovic has come was in 2010, when his Barcelona side was knocked out in the semi-finals by Inter Milan – who he had left at the start of the season in the famous swap deal with Samuel Eto’o going the other way.

At his ripe age, you might think that his chances of UCL glory are behind him – but you can never write off Zlatan – as he and Milan have shown this season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United

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Gianluigi Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon will go down in history as one of the most iconic goalkeepers, with only Manuel Neuer and Iker Casillas the only ‘keepers with more Champions League appearances than the former Juventus and PSG veteran.

The Italian shot-stopper recently returned to Parma and has lifted numerous Serie A titles, Italian cups, a Ligue 1 title, and even a World Cup. Buffon has never managed to lift the Old Big Ears though, despite playing in plenty of star-studded sides with the Old Lady.

The closest Buffon got to winning the Champions League with Juve was the final, which they reached in 2003, 2015, and 2017.

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Fabio Cannavaro

Another Italian legend who won plenty of trophies in his career but failed to win the Champions League was one of the greatest defenders of all time, Fabio Cannavaro.

The centre back was the captain of the Italian team that won the 2006 World Cup, and also claimed the Ballon d’Or that year, but never got his hands on Europe’s biggest club competition.

Cannavaro spent the majority of his career at Parma, from 1995 until 2002, where he and Buffon won the UEFA Cup. He then went on to play for Inter, Juventus, and Real Madrid, but the Champions League evaded him.

Fabio Cannavaro Alessandro Del Piero Juventus Real Madrid

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Diego Maradona

It’s incredible to think that one of the greatest of all time, Diego Maradona, not only didn’t win the European Cup – but only ever made six appearances in the competition.

Maradona did spend most of his career at Napoli, where he guided them to UEFA Cup glory as well as two historic Serie A titles, but the Naples outfit never made a mark in the big European competition.

Maradona is remembered as one of, if not the greatest of all time, but despite carrying Argentina to the World Cup and achieving domestic glory, he wasn’t able to get his hands on the European Cup whilst at Barcelona, Napoli, or Sevilla.

Diego Maradona