Lionel Messi and the UEFA Champions League's Record-Breaking Players

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIMarch 8, 2012

Lionel Messi and the UEFA Champions League's Record-Breaking Players

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    Raul Gonzalez, Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento, Gerd Muller, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Roy Makaay, Paolo Maldini, Patrick Kluivert, and of course, Lionel Messi.

    These are some of the superstar players who have made European Cup/UEFA Champions League history.

    Messi is the most recent, making history again just last night when he became the first player in the Champions-League era to score five goals in a single game, as his FC Barcelona side beat Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 at the Camp Nou.

    But he's not the only one to score five goals in one match throughout the history of Europe's premier club competition.

    Ove Olsson (Gothenburg), Bent Lofqvist (Boldklubben), Jose Altafini (AC Milan), Ray Crawford (Ipswich Town), Nikola Kotkov (Lokomotiv Sofia), Florian Albert (Ferencvaros), Paul van Himst (RSC Anderlecht), Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich), Claudio Sulser (Grasshoppers) and Soren Lerby (Ajax) all managed it in the European Cup.

    In any case, that's not the only record Messi holds, nor is it the only record in the competition's history.

    Read on to find out the records held by the names in the first paragraph (amongst others), and other records held by little Lionel, a player nestled deep in illustrious company.

Lionel Messi

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    Lionel Messi, besides that five-goal haul, is the only player in the UEFA Champions League era to top-score in three consecutive campaigns.

    He's also the joint-highest goalscorer in a single European Cup or Champions League season, having scored 12 goals in the competition last season, and scoring 12 goals again so far this term.

    He'll soon break that record it would seem, but until then he shares it with another player. 

    And that player is...

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    Ruud Van Nistelrooy holds the record with Lionel Messi for the highest number of goals scored in a Champions League-proper campaign.

    Van Nistelrooy actually scored 14 goals in 11 Champions League matches for Manchester United in the 2002-03 season, however, two of those goals were at Old Trafford in the third qualifying round against Hungarian side Zalaegerszegi TE, a match United won 5-0 (David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the others).

    That season Van Nistelrooy finished with 44 goals in 52 games. He holds the record for most goals scored in European competition by a Manchester United player.

Raul Gonzalez

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    Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez holds the record for the most goals scored in European Cup/Champions League history, finding the net 71 times.

    Still banging them in for Schalke 04—he's got 14 goals for them this season at the age of 34—Raul also is the highest appearance-maker in the competition, playing in 144 Champions League matches.

Alfredo Di Stefano

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    Raul Gonzalez may have scored the most goals in Champions League or European Cup history, but Alfredo di Stefano has the best goals-to-games ratio.

    In 58 European Cup games for Real Madrid, di Stefano scored 49 goals, at a ratio of 0.84 goals per game.

    Lionel Messi is the closest to him with 49 goals in 64 games, at a ratio of 0.77 goals per game.

    Di Stefano is also one of only three players to score a hat trick in a European Cup final, doing so in the 1960 final as Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.

Gerd Muller

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    Gerd Muller holds the record for the most top goalscorer awards won in European Cup/Champions League history.

    He won four altogether, first taking the award in 1972-73 with 12 goals (he ended that season with 67 goals in 49 games), and again in 1973-74 (eight goals), 1974-75 (five goals) and lastly in 1976-77 with nine goals.

    Muller's lowest goalscoring total in his whole career in Germany was the 1978-79 campaign, when he scored 13 goals in 21 games. Besides that and the 1965-66 season when he netted 16 times in 39 matches, he never scored under 30 goals a season in his 16-season German football career.

Ryan Giggs

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    Manchester United's legend and all-time leader in appearances, Ryan Giggs, is also a record-breaker in the UEFA Champions League.

    In the entire competition's history, he is the oldest player to score, when he netted in the away game against SL Benfica earlier this season.

    He's also the only player to score in 16 Champions League or European Cup editions.

    On top of that, he's the second highest all-time appearance-maker in the tournament, playing in 139 matches, five less than Raul.

    However, he could beat that record if he continues to play next season.

Peter Ofori-Quaye

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    Peter Ofori-Quaye is a name you probably didn't expect to see on this list.

    Ofori-Quaye is the youngest ever goalscorer in UEFA Champions League/European Cup history.

    At 17 years and 194 days old, striker Ofori-Quaye scored for Olympiacos against Rosenborg on 1 October 1997.

    However, his career went downhill from there, and the 31-year-old now finds himself playing Bechem United in Ghana.

Gary Mills

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    Gary Mills is also another name you probably didn't expect to find on this list.

    Mills is actually the youngest player to ever win the trophy, being part of the Nottingham Forest team which won the European Cup in 1981, and he played in the final against Hamburg SV at the Bernabeu.

    He was 18 years and 199 days old.

Celestine Babayaro

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    Celestine Babayaro, the Chelsea and Newcastle United fans' favourite, is the youngest player to participate in the competition.

    He made his UEFA Champions League debut for RSC Anderlecht on 23 November 1994, in a match against Steaua Bucuresti.

    He was 16 years and 87 days old at the time. 

    He got sent off in the 37th minute.

Patrick Kluivert

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    Patrick Kluivert is the youngest ever player to score in a UEFA Champions League/European Cup Final when he netted for Ajax in 1995.

    He scored the only goal of the game to give Ajax a 1-0 win over AC Milan, and was 18 years and 327 days old.

Ferenc Puskas

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    Real Madrid and Hungary legend Ferenc Puskas is the oldest player to ever win the European Cup, aged 39 years and 39 days when he was part of the Merengues team which beat Partizan Belgrade in 1966.

    He didn't score or play in that game, a 2-1 win for Real at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium, but was crucial in Real getting there, as he scored five goals over two legs in the semifinal against Feyenoord.

    And along with former teammate Alfredo di Stefano, Puskas is one of only three players to score a hat trick in a European Cup final, scoring thrice in that 7-3 win in 1960 over Eintracht Frankfurt along with di Stefano.

    He did so again in 1962, scoring all three goals for Real Madrid in their 5-3 loss to SL Benfica, and became the only ever player to score a hat trick in a final and be on the losing side.

Marco Ballotta

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    Goalkeeper Marco Ballotta is the oldest ever player to participate in the Champions League, when he played for SS Lazio against Real Madrid in 2007, at the age of 43 years and 252 days.

    Ballotta had two spells at Lazio, one from 1997 to 2000 and the other from 2005 to 2008, and also played for a season at Inter Milan.

    Shortly after retiring from football, Ballotta made a brief return to play for a side in the Prima Categoria, the eighth tier of Italian football—playing as a striker for a small team in Calcara, Malta.

Paolo Maldini

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    Paolo Maldini is the oldest player to ever score in a European Cup/UEFA Champions League final, when he netted in the famous 2005 final against Liverpool.

    AC Milan famously lost that night, but Maldini made history, as he was the oldest to score at 36 years and 333 days old.

    That goal was also the fastest ever in a Champions League or European Cup final, as he scored it after just 53 seconds.

Wayne Rooney

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    Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United talisman, made UEFA Champions League history on his debut for the Red Devils.

    At just 18 years and 335 days old, Rooney played his first ever game for United, and stunned the Old Trafford crowd as he scored a hat trick in a 6-2 win over Fenerbahce.

    It made him the youngest-ever player to score three goals in a game in the Champions League or European Cup.

Bafetimbi Gomis

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    The match was dogged with controversy over claims of match-fixing, and it's very clear from the lack of celebration even with a 7-1 lead that something dodgy was taking place.

    However, Lyon's win away to Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Champions League earlier this season made history.

    Bafetimbi Gomis scored the fastest-ever hat trick in the tournament's history, netting three goals in the space of just seven minutes.

Peter Palotas

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    Peter Palotas was the first ever player to score a hat trick in the European Cup.

    He did so for MTK Budapest, then known as Voros Lobogo SE, against RSC Anderlecht in September 1955, in what was the competition's second-ever game.

    Also known as Peter Poteleczky, the striker was a legend in Hungary, scoring 156 league goals in 231 games for his club, as well as 18 goals in 24 caps for the Hungarian national team.

Juul Ellerman

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    Juul Ellerman was the first ever player to score a hat trick in the UEFA Champions League era, when he netted three times for PSV Eindhoven against FK Zalgiris of Lithuania in September 1992.

    Ellerman had a less-than-distinguished career however, and soon after faded into football oblivion.

Joao Baptista Martins

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    Joao Baptista Martins set the foundations for Sporting Lisbon as a top club throughout Europe when he scored the first ever goal in European Cup, in its inaugural match.

    Martins scored the opener for Sporting in a 3-3 draw against Partizan Belgrade in September 1955.

Roy Makaay

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    Roy Makaay holds the record for the fastest goal scored in UEFA Champions League or European Cup history.

    The prolific Dutch striker scored for Bayern Munich against Real Madrid after just 10.2 seconds.

    Overall he scored 31 Champions League goals in 67 matches.

Marouane Chamakh

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    It will surprise a lot of people to know that Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh holds a goalscoring record even more impressive than Lionel Messi's.

    Chamakh scored in six-consecutive UEFA Champions League matches in his time at Bordeaux, the most in European Cup or Champions League history.

    He scored in the round of 16 match against Olympiacos in the 2009-10 season, then in both legs of the quarterfinal against Olympique Lyonnais. However, they lost 3-2 on aggregate and Chamakh's Champions League adventure was over for that season.

    But then he moved on a free transfer to Arsenal and resumed his scoring in the competition immediately, scoring in his next Champions League game, which was a 6-0 win over SC Braga.

    He then scored in the next two group games, against Partizan Belgrade and Shaktar Donetsk.

Jens Lehmann

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    Another less than impressive Arsenal player, Jens Lehmann also surprisingly holds a very good record.

    For the Gunners in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, German goalkeeper Lehmann went 10 consecutive Champions League games keeping a clean sheet, the most in the entire competition's history.

    Even though Arsenal lost the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final to FC Barcelona 2-1, his run technically still counts as he was sent off before Arsenal conceded a goal.

Francisco Gento

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    The ultimate record, Lionel Messi has a long way to go before beating Francisco Gento's record for Real Madrid.

    Real's legendary left winger won six European Cup titles with Los Merengues in their glorious ten-year period from 1956 to 1966, which built the foundations for the greatest football club of all time.

    He was vital in that period, and helped Real win the world's most prestigious club competition in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1966.

    He also won 12 La Liga titles in his career, and two Copa Del Rey titles.

    Needless to say, he's also the player with the most consecutive European Cup or Champions League titles won.


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