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10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

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  • Despite enjoying illustrious careers, some of the greatest footballers in history have gone through their careers not lifting a single league title.
  •  The likes of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have both won the Champions League but never won the league.
  •  England captain Harry Kane made his move to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023, but once again looks set to miss out on lifting a league trophy.

Football is often about glory for players in the modern day now, with very few ever showing immense levels of loyalty. However, there have been a handful of players over the years who have either stayed level or never been at a club good enough to win a league title.

This article has been inspired on the back of England captain Harry Kane and his move to Bayern Munich in pursuit of his first league crown, but who has seen his team fall behind Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga title race.

These 10 players have come narrowly close to glory, but they never quite got their hands on that elusive league title. Instead, they have been remembered as the best players who narrowly missed out.

Ranking factors

  • Importance to the club they played for
  • Their ability and talent
  • Size of the club played for
The 10 Best Players to Never Win a League Title
Rank Name Teams Played For
1. Steven Gerrard Liverpool, LA Galaxy
2. Bobby Moore West Ham, Fulham
3. Socrates Botafogo, Corinthians, Fiorentina, Flamengo, Santos
4. Gordon Banks Chesterfield, Leicester, Stoke
5. Harry Kane Tottenham, Bayern Munich
6. Antoine Griezmann Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona
7. Gary Lineker Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham
8. Fernando Torres Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, AC Milan, Sagan Tosu
9. Marco Reus
Borussia Mönchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund
10. Daniele De Rossi Roma

 

10. Daniele De Rossi

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Starting off our list, Daniele De Rossi stood out as one of the most reliable players throughout his career. He was a key figure in Roma’s midfield, consistently bridging the gap between defense and attack. Despite his pivotal role, De Rossi never clinched a title, which sets him apart from many other influential players. Despite coming close three times, Roma always fell short. In the 2016/2017 season, they amassed an impressive 87 points but still ended up four points behind Italian champions Juventus. This scenario perfectly encapsulates De Rossi’s fortune in Italy – despite his undeniable talent, he never managed to secure the Serie A title, the ultimate prize in Italian football.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2013/2014 Serie A Roma 85 2nd
2014/2015 70 2nd
2016/2017 87 2nd

9. Marco Reus

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Marco Reus has earned a special place in the hearts of football fans, especially those who don’t support any particular team, ever since he started making waves for Borussia Dortmund in the early 2010s. However, there’s always been one elusive achievement for him – a Bundesliga trophy. It’s almost like a cruel twist of fate; he joined Dortmund just a year after they clinched the title, and since then, they’ve been knocking on the door several times. Yet, every time they’ve come close, Bayern Munich has managed to snatch the title away. The 2022/2023 season was another painful reminder of this. Dortmund’s draw at home to Mainz on the final day of the season was emblematic of Reus’ ongoing struggle to lift the Bundesliga trophy.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2015/2016 Bundesliga Dortmund 78 2nd
2018/2019 76 2nd
2022/2023 71 2nd

8. Fernando Torres

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

When you think about inconsistent goal scorers, Fernando Torres often comes to mind. There were moments when he dazzled, showing his brilliance at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, but he also faced difficulties, notably during his disappointing stint at Chelsea. Despite his talent, he never managed to secure a league title throughout his career, despite coming close numerous times. In the 2008/2009 season, Liverpool finished just four points behind champions Manchester United with 86 points. Torres contributed significantly with 14 goals, yet even his efforts weren’t enough to push Liverpool to the top spot.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2008/2009 Premier League Liverpool 86 2nd
2015/2016 La Liga Atletico Madrid 88 3rd
2017/2018 79 2nd

7. Gary Lineker

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Gary Lineker often teases Alan Shearer during their TV appearances about their trophy collections from their playing days. Shearer missed out on winning the FA Cup, while Lineker, surprisingly, never clinched a league title. Despite leaving his childhood club Leicester City for Everton in pursuit of silverware, Lineker narrowly missed out on the league title. In the 1985/1986 season, Everton finished second with an impressive 86 points, just two points behind their rivals Liverpool. Even with his moves to Barcelona and eventually Tottenham, Lineker, despite being one of the greatest goal scorers in history, never managed to lift a league title.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
1988/1989 La Liga Barcelona 57 2nd
1985/1986 First Division Everton 86 2nd
1986/1987 La Liga Barcelona 63 2nd

6. Antoine Griezmann

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Antoine Griezmann has been a joy to watch on the field, effortlessly maneuvering past defenders with finesse. Despite his remarkable talent, he’s yet to clinch a league title. It’s quite surprising considering he’s been with Atletico Madrid when they won twice, but La Liga has eluded him there. Even during his stint with Barcelona, where he came close twice, scoring 73 and 82 points, respectively, victory always seemed just out of reach against their rivals. As he continues to evolve as a player, age notwithstanding, the burning question remains: will Griezmann ever hoist the La Liga trophy?

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2021/2022 La Liga Barcelona 73 2nd
2015/2016 Atletico Madrid 88 3rd
2019/2020 Barcelona 82 2nd

5. Harry Kane

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

In today’s world, Harry Kane is the butt of many jokes. Despite being recognized as one of the greatest strikers of his time, he’s never clinched a career trophy. Twice, he came agonizingly close to securing Premier League glory with Tottenham. In the 2015/2016 season, their hopes crumbled at the crucial moment, handing the title unexpectedly to Leicester City. The following year, Tottenham played stellar football but narrowly missed out on the title to Chelsea under the guidance of serial winner Antonio Conte. These near misses highlighted Kane’s unfortunate streak, prompting his move to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023 in pursuit of silverware. However, it seems that luck hasn’t favored him yet, as he faces the prospect of another trophyless season in 2023/2024.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2016/2017 Premier League Tottenham 86 2nd
2015/2016 70 3rd
2017/2018 77 3rd

4. Gordon Banks

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

“Oh, what a save by Gordon Banks,” stands as one of the most iconic lines in football commentary history. It refers to Banks’s incredible stop to thwart the legendary Pele during the 1970 World Cup. Despite his stellar performances for England on the global stage, Banks never clinched a league title—a feat that eluded him unlike some of his peers. His stints with Leicester and Stoke were the highlights of his club career, with his highest league finish being fourth place in 1963. Despite this, Banks is still hailed as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever, a testament to his remarkable skill and ability.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
1965/1966 First Division Leicester 70 7th
1962/1963 52 4th
1968/1969 Stoke 33 19th

3. Socrates

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Socrates was truly a remarkable presence on the football field, earning himself a place among the greatest players of all time. What set him apart was not just his incredible skill with the ball, but also his academic achievements as a medical doctor and his keen awareness of political issues. It’s no wonder he was affectionately known as “Doctor Socrates”.

However, despite his undeniable talent, Socrates never had the chance to lift a league title. The Brazilian Serie A operated under a unique system during his playing days, often culminating in a knockout stage, which meant that securing the championship was no easy feat. Unfortunately, he fell short of that ultimate glory with both Botafogo and Corinthians.

Nevertheless, Socrates’ brilliance shone through both domestically and on the international stage, proving time and again that his talent knew no bounds.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
1973 Brazilian Serie A Botafogo 43 9th
1980 Corinthians 27 5th
1984/1985 Serie A Fiorentina 29 9th

2. Bobby Moore

10 Best Footballers Who Never Won a League Title (Ranked)

Bobby Moore began his football journey with Fulham before venturing to the USA and Denmark, but his heart remained firmly with West Ham. Spending a significant chunk of his career with the East London club, he became synonymous with the team. Despite his defensive prowess, West Ham’s highest league finish during his tenure was sixth. However, Moore’s crowning achievement came when he led England to victory in the 1966 World Cup. Nevertheless, his inability to secure domestic league success somewhat overshadowed his stellar career. Many speculate what could have been if Moore had joined West Ham just a year earlier when they clinched the league title, albeit in the second tier.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
1958/1959 First Division West Ham 48 6th
1972/1973 46 6th
1961/1962 44 8th

1. Steven Gerrard

Lastly, there’s Steven Gerrard, a midfielder hailed as one of the greatest of all time. But, there’s this persistent shadow hanging over his illustrious career – his failure to clinch the league title. The most notorious moment? That fateful slip against Chelsea in the 2013/2014 season, gifting Demba Ba a goal and sealing victory for the Blues. Liverpool’s subsequent collapse in the following game cemented their second-place finish. It wasn’t the only time Gerrard tasted bitter disappointment, as he also settled for second in the 2008/2009 and 2001/2002 seasons. Despite triumphs like the Champions League, Gerrard’s tenure as Liverpool’s captain was marred by these final moment slips in the Premier League.

Best Seasons
Season Competition Club Points Tally Position
2008/2009 Premier League Liverpool 86 2nd
2013/2014 84 2nd
2001/2002 80 2nd

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