For footballers and fans alike, the Champions League has become one of, if not, the most important competitions on the football calendar in recent history. The competition features the best teams from the top divisions battle it out on the field to secure the right to be called the best team in Europe.
Naturally, some of the world's best players take part in the competition every year and of those, perhaps the most important is the striker. Plenty of world-class strikers have represented their clubs in the competition over the years, but only a special few have made such an impact with goals that they lift the trophy and their names are written in history books forever.
We've put together a list of the most prolific goal-scorers in the competitions history - from the days of the European Cup and since the current format of the Champions League was introduced in 1992. Only Champions League proper games count in this list, so if a player has scored goals in the qualifying rounds, those would be omitted from the total.
*Goal totals are taken from WorldFootball.net.
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15 Gerd Müller (35 goals)
German legend Gerd Müller is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers of all time after his trophy laden spell with Bayern Munich in the 1960s and 70s.
The striker who was born in Allied-occupied Germany at the end of WWII, helped the Bavarians secure three consecutive European Cups in 1974, 1975, 1976 as well as numerous domestic honours.
Müller was renowned for his striking ability, especially inside the box and scored a goal a game for Bayern in Europe. In total he played 35 European games for the club, scoring 35 goals.
At the international level, Müller was more prolific in scoring 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany. He was also the highest World Cup goal-scorer of all-time with 14 goals before Brazilian Ronaldo broke his record in the 2006 tournament.
14 Ferenc Puskás (36 goals)
Ferenc Puskás will go down as one of the football's all-time greats and one of the most prolific strikers in the history of the game. The striker was part of the Hungarian national team nicknamed the Mighty Magyars who revolutionized the way the game was played during the 1950s.
Puskás started his career in his homeland with Kispest and Budapest Honvéd where he had a phenomenal scoring record of over one-goal-a-game before transferring to Real Madrid at the age of 31 after the Hungarian Revolution.
In total, Puskás won three European Cups during his stay in the Spanish capital scoring 35 goals in the process (one goal was for Honvéd).
13 Alessandro Del Piero (42 goals)
Del Piero scored all of his 42 Champions League goals with Turin giants Juventus during his 19 seasons with the club.
The striker helped the 'The Old Lady' to become Champions League winners in 1996 after defeating Ajax in a tense final. Although he didn't manage to score in the final itself, his goals return of six meant that he was tied in second place in that year's goalscorers list.
During his time with Juventus, he appeared in four Champions League finals but unfortunately for the Italian legend, could only end on the winning team just once.
After leaving Juventus on a free transfer in 2012, he went on to play two seasons in Australia with Sydney FC and retired from football with Delhi Dynamos FC in the Indian Super League.
12 Didier Drogba (44 goals)
Chelsea favourite Didier Drogba has scored in the Champions League for three different teams - Marseille, Chelsea and Turkish club Galatasaray.
Drogba scored five goals in six Group games for Marseille in the 2004 edition before his big-money move to Stamford Bridge where he scored the majority of his Champions League goals.
The powerful Ivorian appeared in two Champions League finals for Chelsea with mixed outcomes. In his first, he became the second player in history to be sent off in a European Cup final as Chelsea lost to Premier League rivals Manchester United after John Terry's infamous spot-kick miss.
The second appearance in 2012 was happier for Drogba after defeating Bayern Munich in similar circumstances. After equalizing in the 88th minute of normal time, Drogba went on to score the winning penalty to claim the man-of-the-match award and Chelsea's first European Cup.
11 Zlatan Ibrahimović (45 goals)
The giant Swede has scored for six different clubs in the Champions League but it is this one title that has remained elusive from his extensive trophy cabinet.
Ibrahimović's first taste of Champions League football came with Ajax after signing with the Dutch club from his native Sweden. During his time in Amsterdam, the striker scored six goals in European football's premier competition.
The next stop for Ibrahimović was Italy, where he had a highly successful period with Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan with a year at Barcelona sandwiched in between the latter.
Since joining French Champions PSG in 2012, the striker has continued his goalscoring exploits both domestically and in Europe where he currently has 17 goals in 29 games for the club.
10 T8. Filippo Inzaghi (46 goals)
The Italian poacher bagged his Champions League goals during stints with Juventus and AC Milan respectively. During his time in Turin, Inzaghi scored 17 in 26 and 29 in 55 for AC Milan.
While playing in Milan, Inzaghi was a part of an incredible side built by Carlo Ancelotti that won the Champions League in 2003 and 2007. Playing alongside the likes of Paulo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Kaká to name just a few, the striker scored a brace in the 2007 final to defeat Liverpool 2-1.
9 T8. Karim Benzema (46 goals)
Real Madrid hit-man Karim Benzema has scored 46 goals in 77 appearances in the Champions League to date and is likely to move further up the list in the near future.
Benzema broke on to the scene in his native France with Lyon where he won four championships in a row with the club during a dominant spell at the turn of the millennium. 12 goals in 24 Champions League games furthered his reputation as a formidable striker before Real Madrid swooped for his signature.
Since signing for Los Blancos, Benzema has scored 34 goals in 53 games for the team and helped Madrid to win a record 10th title in the competition in 2014 when they overcame city rivals Atlético Madrid 4-1 in the final.
8 T8. Eusébio (46 goals)
The Portuguese legend who was born in Mozambique scored an incredible 749 goals in 745 matches at club level during a career that stretched two decades. The majority of those goals came for Benfica who he joined as an 18-year-old.
Nicknamed 'the Black Panther', Eusébio helped Benfica win the 1962 European Cup when they defeated Real Madrid 5–3 with the striker bagging two goals in the final.
7 Andriy Shevchenko (48 goals)
Andriy Shevchenko started to make his game as a quality finisher at his first club Dinamo Kiev in his homeland of Ukraine. The young striker bagged 8 goals in 10 games during Dinamo's 1998/1999 European campaign and was quickly snapped up by Italian giants AC Milan where he went on to become a club legend.
The six-time Ukrainian Footballer of the Year winner secured the Champions League with Milan in 2003 when his club overcame Juventus on penalties in the final.
In total the Ukrainian scored 48 goals in 100 Champions League proper games for Dinamo Kiev, AC Milan and Chelsea before hanging up his boots with his first club in 2012 to start a career in politics.
6 Alfredo Di Stéfano (49 goals)
The Argentinian hit-man had an excellent goalscoring record in European competition after scoring 49 goals in just 58 games for Real Madrid during the 1950s and 60s.
Di Stéfano had a highly successful start to his career after winning numerous championships in his native Argentina with River Plate and Colombia with Millonarios, but those triumphs were nothing compared to what he achieved after arriving in Europe.
The striker was as an integral part of one of the most successful teams of all-time in Real Madrid. The team won the first five editions of the European Cup with Di Stéfano scoring in all five finals including a hat-trick in the 1960 final.
5 Thierry Henry (50 goals)
French hero Thierry Henry bagged his 50 Champions League goals for Monaco, Arsenal and Barcelona before moving to the MLS with New York Red Bulls in 2010. Those goals came in 112 games to give him a goal ratio of 0.45 goals every game.
Henry's best scoring season came in his first European campaign with Monaco when he scored 7 goals in 9 appearances before moving on to London via Turin.
The striker managed to win the competition in 2009 after finishing as runner-up with Arsenal in 2006. Henry helped Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in a game which the English side never really got going.
4 Ruud van Nistelrooy (56 goals)
With the second best goalscoring record in the top-ten with 0.77 goals per game, Ruud van Nistelrooy is a truly prolific European striker. The Dutchman scored hit 56 goals in just 73 games with PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and finally Real Madrid.
Although van Nistelrooy never won Europe's top title, the poacher won the Champions League Top Scorer award on three occasions during his playing days in the north of England.
His best campaign in Europe came in the 2002-03 season when van Nistelrooy scored 12 goals in just 9 games before Manchester United were knocked out by Real Madrid at the Quarter-final stage after Brazilian Ronaldo scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford.
3 Raúl (71 goals)
Regarded as one of the greatest Spanish players of all-time, Raúl's Champions League haul of 71 goals in 142 games with Real Madrid and Schalke 04 was unmatched until November 2014 when his record was finally broken.
After playing in 741 games, the Spanish striker is Real Madrid's record appearance maker and one of the most decorated after lifting the European Cup on three occasions as well as La Liga six times during his time with the club.
After 15 years in Madrid, Raúl left the club for Schalke 04 in Germany where he won the German Cup, followed by stints in Qatar with Al Sadd and America after the reformation of the New York Cosmos.
2 Lionel Messi (80 goals)
Arguably the best player in the history of football, Lionel Messi is the second highest scorer in Champions League history with 80 goals. The Barcelona forward broke Raúl's Champions League record in November 2014 with a hat-trick against Cypriots APOEL FC.
The forward's goals have come in just 102 games which means his goals ratio of 0.78 goals per game is one of the best strike rates in the top-ten. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has already won the competition an incredible four times and still has time to add to that haul considering his is still only 28 years old.
Under Luis Enrique, the current Barcelona team look invincible meaning that there is a good chance that Messi could add a fifth medal to his collection come the end of the season.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo (88 goals)
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's 88 Champions League proper goals have come for Manchester United and Real Madrid in 121 games, making him the all-time top scorer in the competition.
Since leaving Manchester for Real Madrid seven years ago, Ronaldo has developed into one of the most prolific goal-scorers the game has ever seen and consistently finds the back of the net for the Spanish outfit. Ronaldo has scored over 50 goals in each of his last five seasons and looks on course to repeat that feat this year.
As well as being the all-time top scorer, Ronaldo has lifted the Champions League trophy on two occasions - once in Moscow with Manchester United in 2008, and the second in 2014 with Real Madrid after top-scoring with 17 goals and overcoming city rivals Atlético in the final.
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