UEFA Champions League: 50 Best Players in Champions League History

Nick LCorrespondent IApril 19, 2011

UEFA Champions League: 50 Best Players in Champions League History

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    The UEFA Champions League is an yearly football cup competition organized by UEFA since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It is globally considered to be the most prestigious football club competition in the world.The final of the competition is the most watched annual sporting event worldwide, drawing just over 100 million television viewers.

    Prior to 1992, it was known of the Europeans Champions Cup and consisted of straight knockout stages. During the 1990s the tournament began to be expanded, including a round-robin group phase and more teams. Europe's strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams each for the competition such as the Premier League and La Liga. 

    The tournament consists of various critical stages for any team involved. In the present format it begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round involving the "weaker" teams. The 10 surviving teams join 22 seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups consisting of four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase. The Sweet 16 play a two legged matches until the last match, which ends with the final match usually contested in May.

    With such good successful teams being incorporated in this competition every player brings a certain class and greatness to the tournament. This will show 50 of the greater players since the 1992 UEFA Champions League was formed. (In no particular order)

Vitor Baia

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    Full name Vítor Manuel Martins Baía
    Date of birth 15 October 1969 (age 41)
    Place of birth Portugal
    Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    Vitor Baia was an exceptional Portuguese goalkeeper guarding the nets for FC Porto and Barcelona throughout his professional playing career. In the 2003-2004 season he was awarded the UEFA Best Club Goalkeeper while playing for FC Porto.

    He won the competition that same year while being favored keeper under Jose Mourinho. In the Final of the 2003-04 Champions League, Vitor Baia shut out Monaco as Porto cruised to a 3-0 victory.

    UEFA Honors

    Porto

    • UEFA Champions League: 2003–04
    • UEFA Cup: 2002–03
    • Intercontinental Cup: 2004

    Barcelona

    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1996–97

     Individual

    • UEFA Club Best Goalkeeper of the Year: 2003–04

Gianluca Vialli

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    Full name Gianluca Vialli
    Date of birth 9 July 1964 (age 46)
    Place of birth Italy
    Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Gianluca Vialli is a retired Italian football striker and manager. He is one of nine footballers to have won the three main European club competitions and is the only player in European footballing history to have winner's and runner's up medals in all three main European club competitions.

    He represented Sampdoria, Juventus, and Chelsea in the Champions League.

    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1990
    • UEFA Champions League: 1996
    • UEFA Cup: 1993
    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1998
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1998

Michael Ballack

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    Full name Michael Ballack
    Date of birth 26 September 1976 (age 34)
    Place of birth East Germany
    Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
    Playing position Midfielder

    The creative German midfielder has added spark and passion to any team he has represented from the German national team to Chelsea. Michael Ballack had become a prolific goalscorer from midfield, scoring 58 goals for Bayern Munich between 2002 and 2006 and five of those coming in the UEFA Champions League.

    After a injury prone first season in the Premier League with Chelsea he helped them make a run to the Champions League Final in 2008 where they lost to rivals Manchester United.

    Ballack has represented Kaiserslaurten, Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea in the Champions League.

    UEFA Honors

    Bayer 04 Leverkusen

    • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2001-02

    Chelsea

    • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2007-08

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 2002

Roberto Ayala

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    Full name Roberto Fabián Ayala
    Date of birth April 14, 1973 (age 38)
    Place of birth Argentina
    Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
    Playing position Centre back (retired)

    Roberto Ayala was a gritty stopper from Argentina. He represented AC Milan and Valencia during the Champions League campaigns. During his 7 years at Valencia CF, he led them reach one UEFA Champions League final in 2001. However his team lost to Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. Then of which he was soon to be voted the Best Defender of the 2001 UEFA Champions League season.

    UEFA Honors

    Valencia

    • Champions League: Runners Up 2000-2001
    • 2003-04UEFA Cup
    • 2004UEFA Super Cup

    Individual

    • Best Defender of the 2001 UEFA Champions League

Carles Puyol

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    Full name Carles Puyol i Saforcada
    Date of birth 13 April 1978 (age 33)
    Place of birth Spain
    Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
    Playing position Defender

    Carles Puyol is the Barcelona skipper and center defender for the Spanish Nation Team. He defends his team and country with dedication and true grit. His Champions League campaigns have been successful as he has been apart of Barcelona who is arguably the strongest team in the world. 

    Puyol is also known for his leadership and work ethic. He often continues training alone after the end of a team practice session or on days off.

    UEFA Honors

    Barcelona

    • UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2009

    Individual

    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
    • UEFA Club Best Defender: 2006

Andriy Shevchenko

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    Full name Andriy Mykolayovich Shevchenko
    Date of birth 29 September 1976 (age 34)
    Place of birth Ukraine
    Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Shevchenko is a world class striker who has graced the pitch during the Champions League while playing for Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, and Chelsea. He is considered to be the greatest Ukrainian footballer of all time. He lifted the silverware of European glory during 2003 with his stint in Milan. He was the tournaments top scorer in 1998-99 and 2004-05 seasons. He is the third-highest scorer in the history of European club competition with 67 goals as of 2011-03-10, behind Filippo Inzaghi and Raúl.

    UEFA Honors

    Milan

    • UEFA Champions League: 2003
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2003

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1998–99, 2005–06
    • UEFA Champions League Best Forward: 1999
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2004, 2005

Peter Schmeichel

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    Full name Peter Bolesław Schmeichel
    Date of birth 18 November 1963 (age 47)
    Place of birth Denmark
    Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    Peter Schmeichel was considered the greatest goalkeeper in the world during his prime. He is best remembered for his most successful years at English club Manchester United, whom he captained to the 1999 UEFA Champions League final.

    UEFA HONORS

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 1998–99
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1991
    • UEFA Intertoto Cup (1): 2001

    Individual

    • UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year: 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998
    • UEFA Club Football Awards: 1997–98
    • UEFA Champions League 10 Seasons Dream Team (1992 to 2002): 2002

Pavel Nedvěd

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images
    Date of birth 30 August 1972 (age 38)
    Place of birth Czechoslovakia
    Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
    Playing position Left winger
    Attacking midfielder

    Pavel Nedved retired from football in 2009 from Juventus. He was a superb player. His creativity, skill and pace made him an elite choice for Sparta Prague, Lazio, and Juventus.

    Lazio

    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1998–99
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1999
    • UEFA Cup Runner-Up: 1997–98

    Juventus

    • Runner-Up: UEFA Champions League 2002–03

    Individual

    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2004, 2005
    • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament : 2004

Fernando Morientes

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    Full name Fernando Morientes Sánchez
    Date of birth 5 April 1976 (age 35)
    Place of birth Cáceres, Spain
    Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Fernando Morientes is a pure goal scorer. He was  a talented in front of the net and makes good creative goals. He has represented various successful clubs in the Champions League from Liverpool, Monaco, Marseille, Valencia to Real Madrid. In 2004 he was the tournaments best scorer with nine goals.

    UEFA HONORS

    • Real Madrid:
      • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02
      • UEFA Super Cup: 2002
    • Monaco:
      • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2003–04
    • Liverpool:
      • UEFA Super Cup: 2005

    Individual

    • UEFA Forward of the Year: 2004
    • UEFA Champions League: Top Scorer 2004

Fernando Hierro

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    Full name Fernando Ruiz Hierro
    Date of birth March 23, 1968 (age 43)
    Place of birth Vélez-Málaga, Spain
    Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
    Playing position

    Centre back / Defensive midfielder

     

    Fernando Hierro is a retired Spanish footballer who was captain of Spain and Real Madrid. He had the ability, to combine solid defensive play with a near-unlimited passing range and surprising goalscoring talent for a defender, which made him one of the world's most sought-after players. For the Real Madrid he won five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League trophies, over the course of nearly 15 years.

    UEFA HONORS

    • Real Madrid:
      • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02
      • UEFA Super Cup: 2002

    Individual

    • UEFA Best Defender: 1997–98

Clarence Seedorf

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    Full name Clarence Clyde Seedorf
    Date of birth 1 April 1976 (age 35)
    Place of birth Suriname
    Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
    Playing position Midfielder

    Clarence Seedorf has a rare spectacular feat that will not go unnoticed for many years to come. Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs; Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998 and Milan in 2003 and 2007.

    He is a crafty midfielder who displays leadership and discipline while on the pitch.

    • UEFA Champions League: 1995
    • UEFA Champions League: 1998
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1998
    • UEFA Champions League: 2003, 2007
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2003, 2007

    Individual

    • UEFA Best Midfielder Award: 1997–1998, 2006–07
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2007

Henrik Larsson

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    Full name Henrik Edward Larsson
    Date of birth September 20, 1971 (age 39)
    Place of birth Sweden,
    Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Henrik Larsson is a fantastic Swedish forward. In the Champions League final of 2006 between Barcelona and Arsenal, Larsson assisted both of Barcelona's goal for the title. He has succesful Champions League stints with Feyenoord, Manchester United, Barcelona, and Celtic.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2005–06
    • UEFA Jubilee Awards – Greatest Swedish Footballer of the last 50 Years: 2003

Edwin Van Der Sar

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    Full name Edwin van der Sar
    Date of birth 29 October 1970 (age 40)
    Place of birth Netherlands
    Height 1.97 m (6 ft 5 12 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    Edwin van der Sar is the keeper for Netherlands and Manchester United. He is the most capped player in Dutch history and has lifted the Champions League Trophy with Ajax and Manchester United while winning the tournaments best goalie honor on both occasions.

    Van Der Sar is the oldest player to ever appear in the knockout phase of the Champions League, at 40 years and 137 days.

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 1994–95
    • UEFA Cup (1): 1991-92
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1995
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1995
    • UEFA Intertoto Cup (1): 1999
    • UEFA Intertoto Cup (1): 2002
    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2007–08

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year (2): 1995, 2009

Wesley Sneijder

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    Full name Wesley Benjamin Sneijder 
    Date of birth 9 June 1984 (age 26)
    Place of birth Utrecht, Netherlands
    Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder

    Wesley Sneijder has represented some of the greatest teams in Europe and with that comes great results in the UEFA Champions League. He is the most recent winner of the UEFA Best Club Midfielder and won Man of the Match honors during his performance in the final of the the 2010 Champions League.

    Due to his greatplacement and ability to score from free kicks, Sneijder earned the reputation as a dead-ball specialist. Although he is a shorter player his speed, strength, and dribble make him tough for any opposition. He has represented Ajax, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2009–10
    • 2010 UEFA Champions League Final: Fans' Man of the Match
    • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year (1): 2010
    • UEFA Team of the Year (1): 2010

Maicon

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    Full name Maicon Douglas Sisenando
    Date of birth 26 July 1981 (age 29)
    Place of birth Novo Hamburgo, Brazil
    Height 1.84 m (6 ft  12 in)
    Playing position Right back

    Maicon is a crafty right back with great ability to move up and down the flank and combine well with the attack. Maicon's contributions to Inter Milan have included staunch defending and offensive support, and have placed him in contention for the 2010 Ballon d'Or.

    His strong total performance during the 2010 Champions League campaign gave him the right to be named Best Defender of the Tournament, helping Inter Milan defeat Bayern Munich for the title.

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2009-10

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Defender of the Year (1): 2009-10
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2010

Wayne Rooney

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    Full name Wayne Mark Rooney
    Date of birth 24 October 1985 (age 25)
    Place of birth Croxteth, Liverpool, England
    Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in) 
    Playing position Forward

    Wayne Rooney is a one of the greatest players in the game right now. He is hard working and strong and has an incredible shot range. His loyalty for Manchester United has strung strong performances for the Old Trafford side and given them good results including the 2008 Champions League victory over Chelsea.

    Club

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2007–08

Romario

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    Full name Romário de Souza Faria
    Date of birth January 29, 1966 (age 45)
    Place of birth Brazil
    Height 1.69 m (5 ft 6 12 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Romario is known as one of the most prolific goalscorers of his time. He was a deadly finisher with the ball and shined throughout his reign in European competitions. He is also known as one of the very few strikers to surpass the mark of 1,000 goals. Hailing from Brazil he also had a successful international career.

    • UEFA Champions League: Runner-Up 1993-94

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League's top scorer: 1990, 1993

Frank Lampard

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    Full name Frank James Lampard
    Date of birth 20 June 1978 (age 32)
    Place of birth Romford, London, England
    Height 1.84 m (6 ft  12 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder

    Frank Lampard is considered to be one of the best English footballers of all time, so its easy to understand why he would make this list. A long time Chelsea superstar he has led them to the 2008 Final where they couldn't find the win, although he earned Best Midfielder of the Champions League that year.

    • UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1999

     

    UEFA Champions League

    • Runner-up: 2008

     

    Individual

     

    • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 1
    • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1
    • UEFA Intertoto Cup : Best Player: 1

Gianluigi Buffon

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    Full name Gianluigi Buffon Masocco
    Date of birth 28 January 1978 (age 33)
    Place of birth Italy
    Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    Gianluigi Buffon is one of the fiercest goalkeepers in the world. His passion and leadership from the net makes him an elite player choice for a Champions League great. Although he has never won the Champions League he was awarded the tournaments Best Goalkeeper and MVP in 2003.

    UEFA Honors

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player: 2003
    • UEFA Club Football Awards Best Goalkeeper: 2003
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2004, 2006

Roberto Carlos

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    Full name Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha
    Date of birth 10 April 1973 (age 38)
    Place of birth Brazil
    Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
    Playing position Left wingback

    Roberto Carlos is one of the greatest left backs of all time. He previously played for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid for 11 years, making over 500 appearances and winning four leagues and three UEFA Champions League trophies. Roberto Carlos is also one of only fifteen players to have played more than 100 matches in the Champions League.

    He was named Best Defender of the Champions League in 2002.

    UEFA Honors

    Real Madrid

    • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1998, 2002
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2002

    Individual

    • UEFA Defender of the Year: 2002
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2003

Steve McManaman

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    Full name Steven McManaman
    Date of birth 11 February 1972 (age 39)
    Place of birth England
    Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
    Playing position Attacking Midfielder(Retired)

    Representing two of the greatest clubs in the world; Liverpool and Real Madrid, it is no surprise that Steve McManaman has something special. A creative midfielder with tremendous skill, he was the first English player to have holstered the Champions League cup twice.

    • UEFA Champions League
      • Winner: 2000, 2002
    • UEFA Super Cup
      • Winner: 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup
      • Winner: 2002
      • Runners Up: 2000
    • UEFA Champions League Final - Man of the Match: 2000

Jaap Stam

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
    Full name Jakob Stam
    Date of birth 17 July 1972 (age 38)
    Place of birth Netherlands
    Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
    Playing position Centre bac

    Jaap Stam is a dutch defender who has represented top teams in European football. He had the honor of winning the competition in 1998-99, and was voted the tournaments Best Defender in 1998-99, and 1999-2000. He has represented PSV, Manchester United, Lazio, Milan, and Ajax.

    UEFA Honors

    Manchester United

    • UEFA Champions League: 1998–99
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1999

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Best Defender: 1998–99, 1999–2000

Gary Neville

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
    Full name Gary Alexander Neville
    Date of birth 18 February 1975 (age 36)
    Place of birth England
    Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
    Playing position Right-back

    Neville spent his entire playing career at Old Trafford, making him a rare one-club man. At the time of his retirement, he was United's second longest serving player in the squad, behind his long-time team-mate Ryan Giggs. Neville retired in 2011. Although he did not play in the Champions League final in 2008 it was the second time him and Manchester United held the trophy in ten years.

    UEFA Honors

    Manchester United

    • UEFA Champions League (2): 1998–99, 2007-08

Paul Scholes

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
    Full name Paul Aaron Scholes
    Date of birth 16 November 1974 (age 36)
    Place of birth Salford, Greater Manchester,
    England
    Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 12 in)
    Playing position Midfielder

    Paul Scholes is one of the greatest players of our time. He has spent his entire career at Manchester United. His loyalty and passion at Manchester had him a pivotal part of the two Champions Leagues, United has won in recent years.

    • UEFA Champions League (2): 1998–99, 2007–08
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999

Rui Costa

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    Full name Rui Manuel César Costa
    Date of birth March 29, 1972 (age 39)
    Place of birth Portugal
    Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder

    Rui Costa is considered one of Portugal's greatest players. Renowned for his fine technique and his excellent passing, he's now considered as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation. He led Milan to the 2003 Champions League.

    • UEFA Champions League: 2003
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2003

    Individual

    • UEFA European Championship Teams of the Tournament: 1996, 2000

Xavi

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
    Full name Xavier Hernández i Creus
    Date of birth 25 January 1980 (age 31)
    Place of birth Terrassa, Spain
    Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
    Playing position Midfielder

    Xavi is a long time Barcelona faithful. A superb midfielder with creativity and skill, he has help Barcelona become the most elite team in the world. Xavi was named the official Man of the match of the 2009 Champions League Final as he helped Barcelona defeat Manchester United to win their third Champions League title.

    • UEFA Champions League: 2
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 1
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 3
    • UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Year: 1

Rivaldo

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    Full name Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira
    Date of birth 19 April 1972 (age 39)
    Place of birth Paulista, Pernambuco, Brazil
    Height 1.87 m (6 ft 1 12 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder

    Rivaldo was a classic "10" shirt. His skill is unmatched and he was one of Brazil's greatest players. He represented Barcelona and Milan in the Champions League and lifted the trophy in 2003 when he played for the Italian side. 

    UEFA Honors

    Barcelona

    • UEFA Super Cup: 1997

    Milan:

    • UEFA Champions League: 2003
    • European Super Cup: 2003

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2000

Paolo Maldini

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    Full name Paolo Cesare Maldini
    Date of birth 26 June 1968 (age 42)
    Place of birth Milan, Italy
    Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Defender

    Paolo Maldini spent all 25 of his professional soccer year at AC Milan. During those years he lifted many titles, including the Champions League 5 times.

    The Milan skipper holds a record 168 Champions League appearances.

    • European Cup/Champions League: 5
    • UEFA Super Cup: 5
    • Intercontinental Cup: 2
    • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 1
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2
    • UEFA Champions League Best Defender: 1
    • UEFA Champions League Achievement Award: 1
    • UEFA Champions League Record of most appearances: 1

Ryan Giggs

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    Full name Ryan Joseph Giggs
    Date of birth 29 November 1973 (age 37)
    Place of birth Wales
    Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) 
    Playing position Midfielder

    Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history, and he holds the club record for competitive appearances, and the club record for team trophies won by a player. His tenure at United has made him an elite player throughout the world.

    • UEFA Champions League (2): 1998–99, 2007–08
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1991
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League 10 Seasons Dream Team (1992 to 2002): 2002

Cafu

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    Full name Marcos Evangelista de Moraes
    Date of birth June 7, 1970 (age 40)
    Place of birth Brazil
    Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
    Playing position Right back

    Cafu widely regarded as one of the greatest right-backs ever. He represented some of the best teams in Europe and Brazil throughout his career. He is a strong on the ball and a great stopper.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Cup Winner's Cup: 1
    • UEFA Champions League: 1
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1

Steven Gerrard

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    Full name Steven George Gerrard
    Date of birth 30 May 1980 (age 30)
    Place of birth England
    Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) 
    Playing position Midfielder

    Steven Gerrard is phenomenal. His long range shots are amazing he scored a vital goal in the 2005 Champions League Final. He has played in Liverpool for his entire career.

    Winning the Champions League in 2005 he also won MVP of the tournament.

    UEFA Honors

    Winner

    • UEFA Champions League: 2004–05;
    • UEFA Cup: 2000–01
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2001, 2005

    Runner-Up

    • UEFA Champions League: 2006–07

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2005
    • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 2005
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2005, 2006, 2007

Thierry Henry

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    Full name Thierry Daniel Henry
    Date of birth 17 August 1977 (age 33)
    Place of birth France
    Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
    Playing position Striker/Winger

    The definition of a goalscorer. He is absolutely marvelous to watch and although he left his best days in Arsenal, his Champions League success came with Barcelona in 2008-09.

    He has been named to UEFA Team of the Year five times, and represented Monaco, Arsenal, and Barcelona while currently residing to the New York Red Bulls.

    UEFA Honors

    Barcelona

    UEFA Champions League: 1

    UEFA Super Cup: 1

    Individual

    • UEFA Football Championship Team of the Tournament: 2000
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

David Beckham

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    Full name David Robert Joseph Beckham
    Date of birth 2 May 1975 (age 35)
    Place of birth England
    Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
    Playing position Right-midfield
    Centre-midfield

    David Beckham is probably the most famous soccer player ever. With a whole Hollywood era, he has let his play on the field speak for itself. He holds the record appearances for the English national team and has played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, L.A. Galaxy, and A.C. Milan.

    He is a dead ball specialist and had a famous phrase coined after him, "Bend it Like Beckham."

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 1998–99
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (1): 1998–99
    • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year (1): 1998–99

Luis Figo

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    Full name Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo 
    Date of birth 4 November 1972 (age 38)
    Place of birth Portugal
    Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder/Winger
    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1
    • UEFA Champions League: 1
    • UEFA Super Cup: 1
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1

    Individual

    • UEFA Team of the Year: 1

Ronaldinho

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    Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images
    Full name Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
    Date of birth 21 March 1980 (age 31)
    Place of birth Brazil
    Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
    Playing position Forward / Winger

    The Brazilian Superstar is a free-kick specialist and has an incredible dribbling ability. During his time at Barcelona he was considered one of the most talented individual players in the world. He is widely considered by experts and fans as one of the greatest players of all time.

    He represented PSG, Barcelona, and AC Milan through his European football career.

    • UEFA Intertoto Cup (1): 2001
    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2005–06

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Best Forward (1): 2004-05
    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (1): 2005-06
    • UEFA Team of the Year (3): 2003-04, 2004–05, 2005–06

Petr Čech

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
    Full name Petr Čech
    Date of birth 20 May 1982 (age 28)
    Place of birth Czechoslovakia
    Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    Cech is an amazing goalkeeper who defends for Czech Republic and Chelsea. He has various awards from Premier League and European competitions. Čech also received the individual award of Best Goalkeeper in the 2004/2005, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons of the UEFA Champions League.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Best European Goalkeeper: 2005, 2007, 2008
    • UEFA Club Football Awards Best Goalkeeper:2003, 2005, 2007, 2008

Alessandro Del Piero

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
    Full name Alessandro Del Piero
    Date of birth 9 November 1974 (age 36)
    Place of birth  Italy
    Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
    Playing position Second striker

    Del Piero is number 6 among active players with goals in the Champions League. Although Juventus hasn't made noise in the Champions League in recent years, Del Piero continues to display class and leadership during his tenure in Italy.

    UEFA Honors

    Juventus

    • UEFA Intertoto Cup (1): 1999
    • UEFA Champions League (1): 1995-96
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 1996
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1996

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1

Ricardo Carvalho

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
    Full name Ricardo Alberto Silveira de Carvalho
    Date of birth 18 May 1978 (age 32)
    Place of birth Amarante, Portugal
    Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
    Playing position Centre back

    Ricardo Carvalho is considered to be one of the greatest defenders of our time. The Portuguese made a cry for the title when Mourinho made the move to Chelsea from Porto and brought the fellow defender with him. A few years later after joining Madrid, Mourinho brought Carvalho back to defend his back line.

    UEFA Honors

    Porto

    • UEFA Champions League: 2003–04

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Best Defender of the Year: 2003–04
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003–04

Alessandro Nesta

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images
    Full name Alessandro Nesta
    Date of birth March 19, 1976 (age 35)
    Place of birth Rieti, Italy
    Height 1.87 m (6 ft 1 12 in)
    Playing position Centre back

    Considered by many as one of the best centre backs to have ever played the game, he is a four-time member of the annual UEFA Team of the Year. Nesta has been a still trap for Milan since 2002 and has proven year in and out that Milan's defense is one of the best in Europe.

    • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1) : 1998–99
    • UEFA Super Cup (1) : 1999
    • UEFA Champions League (2) : 2003, 2007
    • UEFA Super Cup (2) : 2003, 2007

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Football Awards Best Defender: 2003
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007

Guti

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    Full name José María Gutiérrez Hernández
    Date of birth October 31, 1976 (age 34)
    Place of birth Spain
    Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
    Playing position Midfielder

    Guti played many roles through his career and was a piece of the success Real Madrid had winning three Champions League titles. Coming through the ranks of Real Madrid he defended his loyalty with his play through out competitions.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1998, 2002

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
    Full name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
    Date of birth 5 February 1985 (age 26)
    Place of birth Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
    Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Forward / Winger

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League: 1

    Individual


    • UEFA Team of the Year: 5
    2003–04, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10

    • UEFA Champions League Topscorer: 1
    2007-08
    • UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 1
    2007–08
    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 1
    2007–08

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images
    Full name Rutgerus Johannes
    Martinus van Nistelrooij
    Date of birth 1 July 1976 (age 34)
    Place of birth Netherlands
    Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Ruud Van Nistelrooy has played for elite teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid but never won the Champions League. His individual performances were nothing to forget though. Named Forward of the tournament in 2002 and Most Valuable Striker. He was top scorer in the tournament and impressive 3 times.

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Striker: 2001–02
    • UEFA Champions League Topscorer: 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05
    • UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2002–03

Oliver Kahn

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    Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
    Full name Oliver Rolf Kahn
    Date of birth 15 June 1969 (age 41)
    Place of birth West Germany
    Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper (retired)

    Oliver Kahn is a great German keeper. Faithful to Bayern Munich throughout his career he led them to a Champions League victory in 2001. His individual leadership and effort in net is a inspiration for Germany and Bayern as he is considered one of the greatest goalies ever.

    UEFA Honors

    Bayern Munich

    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2001
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 2001

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Man of the Match: 2001
    • UEFA Fair-Play Award: 2001
    • UEFA Club Football Awards - Best Goalkeeper: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Iker Casillas

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
    Full name Iker Casillas Fernández
    Date of birth 20 May 1981 (age 29)
    Place of birth Spain
    Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
    Playing position Goalkeeper

    UEFA Honors

    Real Madrid

    • UEFA Champions League (2): 1999–2000, 2001–02
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1998, 2001

    Individual

    UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

Messi

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
    Full name Lionel Andrés Messi
    Date of birth 24 June 1987 (age 23)
    Place of birth Rosario, Argentina
    Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
    Playing position Forward / Winger

    Highly regarded as the best active player right now, Lionel Messi is full of skill and tricks. The ball handling skill of the Argentine is incredible and his ability to score in big matches. He is on the forefront of the success for Barcelona and Argentina and will go down as one of the best Champions League players ever.

    UEFA Honors

    • UEFA Champions League: 2
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2009

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League top goalscorer: 2
    • UEFA Champions League Player of the Year: 1
    • UEFA Champions League Forward of the Year: 1
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 3

Deco

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    Phil Cole/Getty Images
    Full name Anderson Luís de Souza
    Date of birth 27 August 1977 (age 33)
    Place of birth São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
    Height 1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder, Left midfielder

    Deco is an amazing footballer. Making his name with FC Porto he caught the eye of huge clubs throughout Europe. Wearing the colors of Barcelona and Chelsea, he is one of the more successful players in Champions League history, scoring in the 2004 Final for Porto.

    UEFA Honors

    Porto

    • UEFA Champions League: 2004
    • UEFA Cup: 2003

    Barcelona

    • UEFA Champions League: 2006

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2003–04
    • UEFA Best Midfielder: 2003–04 , 2005–06

Mendieta

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
    Full name Gaizka Mendieta
    Date of birth 27 March 1974 (age 37)
    Place of birth Bilbao, Spain
    Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
    Playing position Midfielder
    • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 1999–00, 2000–01

    Individual

    UEFA Champions League: Best Midfielder 1999–2000, 2000–01

Eto"o

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images
    Full name Samuel Eto'o Fils
    Date of birth 10 March 1981 (age 30)
    Place of birth Cameroon
    Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 12 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Samuel Eto'o is one of the greatest finishers of the game today. The Cameroon captain has won the Champions League twice with Barcelona and once with Inter Milan. His pure talent and raw ability is a major factor in the success of his country and clubs.

    • UEFA Champions League (2): 2005–06, 2008–09
    • UEFA Champions League (1): 2009–10

    Individual

    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2005, 2006
    • UEFA Champions League Best Forward: 2006
    • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match 2006

Kaka

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images
    Full name Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
    Date of birth April 22, 1982 (age 28)
    Place of birth Brazil
    Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Attacking midfielder

    Kaka is regarded as one of the best players in the world. His leadership during his Milan days were inspirational and led to his record transfer to Madrid. One of the best players in terms of vision for the game, Kaka has had a few season plagued by injury but never fails to be magical when on the pitch.

     

    UEFA Honors

    Milan

    • UEFA Champions League: 2006–07
    • UEFA Super Cup: 2003, 2007

    Individual

    • UEFA Champions League Bronze Top scorer: 2005–06
    • UEFA Champions League Best Midfielder: 2005
    • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2006–07
    • UEFA Champions League Best Forward: 2006–07
    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2006-07

Zidane

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
    Full name Zinedine Yazid Zidane
    Date of birth 23 June 1972 (age 38)
    Place of birth France
    Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
    Playing position Midfield

    Zidane was one of the best of his time. He represented Juventus and Real Madrid and with his presence they were the best teams at the time. Zidane had a great ability to impact every game he played in. His magical pass and touch were incredible and he made soccer a more beautiful game.

    He had great success in European competitions, leading Juventus and Real Madrid to Champions League victories. 

    Juventus

      • UEFA Champions League:
        • Runner-up: 1996-97, 1997-98
      • UEFA Super Cup:
        • Winner: 1996
      • Intercontinental Cup:
        • Winner: 1996
      • UEFA Intertoto Cup:
        • Winner: 1999

    Real Madrid

      • UEFA Champions League:
        • Winner: 2001-02
      • UEFA Super Cup:
        • Winner: 2002
      • Intercontinental Cup:
        • Winner: 2002

    Individual

    • UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year - 1998
    • UEFA Team of the Year - 2001, 2002, 2003
    • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match - 2002
    • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year - 2002
    • UEFA Best European Player of the Past 50 Years - 2004

Raul

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images
    Full name Raúl González Blanco
    Date of birth 27 June 1977 (age 33)
    Place of birth Madrid, Spain
    Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 12 in)
    Playing position Striker

    Raul is one of Spain's greatest players of all time. His presence in Real Madrid was Iconic and he shall be remembered as a Blanco for life. He is the all time leading European Competition scorer with 71 goals in 142 games.

    He is an all time great and any player will have a tough time breaking the record of the ever so great Raul.

    Real Madrid

    • UEFA Champions League (3): 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup (2): 1998, 2002

    Individual

    • orer (2): 1999–2000, 2000–01
    • UEFA Club Forward of the Year (3): 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02

    Records

    • UEFA Champions League Record Goalscorer: 71 goals
    • UEFA Champions League Record Appearance Maker: 142 games