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Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

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HIGHLIGHTS

  •  The Champions League has seen legendary strikers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul & Karim Benzema shine under the spotlight for clubs like Real Madrid.
  •  The top 10 Champions League strikers have been ranked based on goals, assists, titles, memorable games, and iconic moments in history.
  •  Players like Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Samuel Eto’o, and Didier Drogba have left lasting legacies in the competition with their performances in Europe.

The Champions League is like the ultimate stage for Europe’s top football talent. It’s where the best of the best come to prove their mettle and boy, have we seen some incredible players light up the pitch when that iconic anthem fills the stadium.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed a parade of superstars in every position, but there’s something special about the number 9s. From the likes of Filippo Inzaghi to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, these strikers have showcased their prowess time and time again. Yet, it’s not just about a one-off performance; it’s about sustaining that excellence at the highest level.

So, we’ve taken a deep dive into the history books to identify the top 10 Champions League strikers. We’re focusing specifically on those who operated in the central role, meaning maestros like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe won’t be making the cut.

Ranking factors

  • Goals
  • Assists
  • Titles
  • Memorable Games
  • Iconic Moments
10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History – Ranked
Rank Player Clubs Champions League wins
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus
5 (07/08, 13/14, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18)
2. Karim Benzema Lyon, Real Madrid 5 (13/14, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18, 21/22)
3. Robert Lewandowski* Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona 1 (19/20)
4. Raul Real Madrid, Schalke 3 (97/98, 99/00, 01/02)
5. Samuel Eto’o Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea 3 (05/06, 08/09, 09/10)
6. Ruud Van Nistelrooy PSV, Manchester United, Real Madrid 0
7. Thierry Henry Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona 1 (08/09)
8. Didier Drogba Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray 1 (11/12)
9. Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea 1 (02/03)
10. Ronaldo Nazario Inter Milan, Real Madrid 0
*Still playing Champions League football in 2024

 

10. Ronaldo Nazario

37 games, 14 goals, 10 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

It’s really unbelievable that someone like Ronaldo never managed to snag a Champions League trophy throughout his entire career. Considering he played for powerhouse teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and both Milan clubs, you’d think he would’ve had at least one under his belt. But somehow, it just never happened for him.

9. Andriy Shevchenko

100 games, 48 goals, 16 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

It’s a bit of a bummer for Premier League fans that Andriy Shevchenko didn’t quite shine during his time at Chelsea; he was kind of a letdown there. But back in the early 2000s, let me tell you, the guy was an absolute force.

Winning the Ballon d’Or in 2004, Shevchenko was the go-to guy up front for AC Milan, and they were a nightmare for the best teams in Europe. They made it to two finals during that time, both ending in penalty shootouts, but with very different outcomes.

8. Didier Drogba

92 games, 44 goals, 15 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

The connection between the Champions League and Didier Drogba is etched in history, thanks to the unforgettable finale to his first tenure at Chelsea. Drogba, known for his sheer dominance as a striker, proved to be a nightmare for defenders during his prime. His departure from Stamford Bridge in 2012 was marked by a spectacular exit. In the final against Bayern Munich, with Chelsea trailing 1-0, Drogba rose to the occasion, scoring a crucial late goal to level the score before sealing the victory with a decisive penalty in the shootout.

7. Thierry Henry

112 games, 50 goals, 22 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Thierry Henry had such an incredible blend of confidence and talent that it felt like he was destined to claim a Champions League title during his peak years, and 2006 came tantalizingly close to fulfilling that prophecy. Throughout that season, Henry showcased his brilliance for Arsenal, leading them to the final showdown against Barcelona. One standout moment was his unforgettable solo goal that left the Bernabeu stunned and silenced. It was a testament to his sheer skill and determination.

It’s a bit of a downer, really. The Gunners didn’t quite pull it off and ended up losing 2-1. Maybe that’s why Henry decided to switch over to Barcelona, where he finally snagged the winner’s medal he’d been longing for since 2009. It’s just a pity that someone as talented as Henry couldn’t clinch the trophy while leading his team.

 

6. Ruud Van Nistelrooy

73 games, 56 goals, 18 assistsTop 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Ruud Van Nistelrooy remains Manchester United’s top scorer in the Champions League, and there’s no denying his prowess as a striker. He had this unique ability to find the back of the net effortlessly. With an impressive record of 74 goal contributions in just 73 games, he truly stood out. It’s remarkable, especially considering the common perception that he was only lethal within the penalty area.

5. Samuel Eto’o

78 games, 30 goals, 19 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Samuel Eto’o belongs to a special group of players who’ve clinched back-to-back Champions League titles with two different teams. In the 2009 final against Manchester United, the Cameroonian striker kicked off the scoring. Despite his stellar displays, he became part of a swap deal, which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic head to the Nou Camp while Eto’o made his way to Inter Milan.

4. Raul

142 games, 71 goals, 32 assistsTop 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Raul, the iconic figure of Real Madrid, held the record for the highest number of goals in the competition until 2014. He had a knack for scoring seemingly effortless goals, a talent that set him apart. In his early years, he thrived in the tournament, clinching the title three times between 1998 and 2002.

3. Robert Lewandowski

117 games, 93 goals, 26 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Robert Lewandowski has been a standout performer for clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona for more than ten years. Despite being 35, he’s still at the top of his game, as evidenced by his recent goal for Barcelona in their 1-1 draw against Napoli.

2. Karim Benzema

152 games, 90 goals, 30 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

Throughout his time at Real Madrid, Karim Benzema often played second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo, likened to Robin beside Batman. As a result, many of his remarkable displays went unnoticed. Nevertheless, the French striker consistently delivered goals and contributed to the team’s success, clinching four European titles by 2018.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

183 games, 140 goals, 48 assists

Top 10 Greatest Strikers in Champions League History (Ranked)

188 goal contributions in 183 games? That’s beyond incredible. It’s almost like Ronaldo is a superhero, especially considering we compared him to Batman not too long ago. He’s undeniably the greatest scorer the competition has ever seen, shining brightest in the most important matches. Winning the trophy five times from 2008 to 2018, CR7 consistently delivered, netting four goals in three of the finals he played and even sealing the deal with a decisive penalty against Atletico Madrid in 2016.

All statistics courtesy of Transfermarkt and UEFA

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