The UEFA Champions League has maintained a charm of its own over the years, where it has asserted itself as the premier competition of Europe because of its reputation. The best clubs from around Europe facing off against each other makes the Champions League truly great, and the competition level is far superior to that of any other league. While the domestic leagues are exciting in their own right, the Champions League holds a special place in the hearts of soccer fans because of its staggering reputation. A star can be born with great outings in the tournament, and we’ve seen many legends being created thanks to their performances in the competition.
While a top-class player can easily perform brilliantly in their domestic league, to perform consistently in the Champions League is quite the colossal task for even the most talented players. The high level of competition, difficult environment and high-pressure scenarios have made some great players crumble, but certain players have shown an outstanding ability to thrive in the Champions League. There are some world-class players who have really enjoyed playing in the competition and have scored many goals during their years.
Regardless of the tougher opposition and difficulties at scoring in the Champions League, these players have shown no sign of weakness and will forever be remembered for scoring many goals in the competition, helping their teams achieve glory. Let’s have a look at the top 20 goal scorers in the history of the Champions League.
20 Sergio Aguero - 31 Goals
Sergio Aguero has been a lethal goal scorer for Manchester City over the years and has been an embodiment of their success since the turn of the new decade. Not only has Aguero been an amazing performer who has won them many Premier League titles, but he’s been excellent in the Champions League as well.
Aguero is among the highest goal scorers for City in the competition, having amassed 31 goals in 61 appearances so far.
He had his best years in the 2013/14 and 14/15 seasons when he scored six goals each year and has since been a reliable outlet for City in the CL. Aguero still has a lot left in his tank and could get higher in the top goal scorers chart for the competition.
19 Edinson Cavani - 32 Goals
Edinson Cavani has been the driving force of Paris-Saint Germain’s attack for many years now, as he’s scored more than 100 goals for them and has dazzled up Paris many times. Cavani has also been really impressive in the Champions League throughout his career and scored about 32 goals in 52 games in the competition. The Uruguayan striker maintains a great goals-to-matches ratio of 0.61 and even though he hasn’t been able to win the competition yet, Cavani has always scored many goals in the Champions League. Cavani will look to win the competition this season with PSG and aim to improve his goal scoring record even more in what could finally be the season when PSG lifts the CL trophy.
18 Francisco Gento - 32 Goals
Francisco Gento is widely considered as one of Real Madrid’s greatest wingers of all time, as he played during a time when soccer was a very rough game but dazzled everyone with his pace and trickery. Gento might have been a winger, but he had a terrific eye for goal which he often displayed in the Champions League. Gento played 88 games in the competition for Los Blancos and scored 32 goals, which is really impressive for a left-winger. During his stint with Real Madrid, Gento also won the Champions League crown six times; he is a true legend for Madrid in the Champions League, with his insane goal scoring record itself proving how fantastic he was in the competition.
17 Gerd Muller - 34 Goals
Gerd Muller has quite the reputation in Germany because of his incredible goal-scoring antics at the FIFA World Cup, but he also has an admirable record in the Champions League. Muller scored an insane 34 goals in 35 Champions League appearances for Bayern in the 70s and had the ratio of almost a goal per game in the highly competitive competition. Muller also held the record of scoring 11 goals in a single Champions League season, which was broken almost three decades later. Muller’s incredible goal scoring ability made him a sheer menace for the “world-class” oppositions in the tournament, as he helped Munich win the Champions League three times in a row from 1973 to 1976 with his fabulous work.
16 Ferenc Puskas - 35 Goals
Ferenc Puskas is someone whose name is embodied in soccer, as there’s the “Puskas Award” which is a tribute to his excellent goal-scoring ability and awarded to the players who scored the best goal in a calendar year. Puskas was quite the incredible player back in his days when he dazzled everyone with his ability to score some outrageous goals. Puskas used to have a lot of fun playing at the Champions League and has an excellent record in it, as he scored 35 goals in 41 appearances. Puskas was excellent for Real Madrid in the competition and helped them win three Champions League titles as well as asserting himself as one of the greatest goal-scorers in the competition’s history at the same time.
15 Thomas Muller - 42 Goals
Thomas Muller has been a sneaky goal scorer for Bayern Munich over all these years and has garnered up a lot of experience in the Champions League having played in it for almost a decade now. Muller has quite the stunning record in the Champions League and has scored 42 goals in 97 appearances in it for Bayern Munich. He’s helped the German giants win many matches in the past years and been a real fox in the botch at the Champions League nights. Muller was excellent for Munich when they last won the Champions League in the 2012/13 season when he scored eight goals in their impressive campaign and has since further improved his reputation as one of the competitions’ greatest goal scorers.
14 Alessandro Del Piero - 42 Goals
Alessandro Del Piero was the man to help Juventus become a European Heavyweight after the turn of the modern era, with his fantastic work in front of goal making him a dangerous man for the Bianconeri. Del Piero had a glittering career with Juventus, in which he could only capture the Champions League once during the 1995/96 season. He scored around 42 goals in 89 appearances for the Old Lady and even finished as the top scorer of the 1997/98 season when he scored an impressive 10 goals! Del Piero ravished the Champions League nights and created many fond memories at that, and proved himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the competition’s history at the end of his career.
13 Didier Drogba - 44 Goals
Didier Drogba helped Chelsea to a lot of success in the UEFA Champions League and the clinical goal scorer he was, Drogba really enjoyed the Champions League nights. He loved to bully defenders with his strength and movement, terrorizing even the best of defenders in the Champions League. Drogba scored 44 goals in 92 appearances for the Blues and helped them become a Champions League heavyweight as well. Chelsea fans will always remember Drogba scoring the last-minute equalizer against Bayern Munich in the 2011-12 season and helping them win their inaugural Champions League title. The Ivorian established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the competition's history and brought much joy to Chelsea fans at the same time.
12 Robert Lewandowski - 45 Goals
Robert Lewandowski has been one of the most lethal strikers of the modern era and has maintained incredible consistency in scoring goals for fun in the Champions League. Lewandowski has been at his best during the grueling Champions League nights and really seems to enjoy playing off against different oppositions in it. The Poland International has scored around 45 goals in 70 appearances and has an impressive goals-to-matches ratio of 0.61. He’s had prolific periods with both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and scored some memorable goals in the competition. Lewandowski is unfortunate not to have won the Champions League yet and but his incredible goal-scoring form means that he’ll keep adding to his tally the near future and might even win it with Bayern.
11 Filippo Inzaghi - 46 Goals
Filippo Inzaghi is widely regarded as one of the best strikers of all time and is an AC Milan legend for his amazing devotion towards the club for many years. Inzaghi had a glittering career in Italy, but when it came to facing tougher European oppositions, he seemed to gain even more confidence. Inzaghi had a great time playing in the UEFA Champions League, as he scored 46 goals in 81 appearances in the competition. He maintained tremendous consistency in scoring at clutch situations at the Champions League and won the competition twice with Milan. Inzaghi asserted himself as one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the competition with his outstanding work and etched himself into the history books in the end.
10 Eusebio - 47 Goals
Eusebio is regarded as the Godfather of soccer in Portugal as he helped elevate the standards of the Portuguese National team and helped Benfica to a lot of success in the 60s. Eusebio was a quick, powerful striker who had a terrific eye for the net and scored many goals for Benfica in his career. Eusebio scored 47 goals in 63 appearances and had a terrific goals-to-matches ratio of 0.75! He won the Champions League crown once in the 1961/62 season, but had his best season in the 64/65 season when he scored 10 goals! Eusebio thrived to play against tougher oppositions at the Champions League, with his fantastic goal-scoring record making him one of it’s greatest-ever players.
9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 48 Goals
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was quite the emphatic figure in the Champions League during his years in Europe, as he always made an impact and scored some world-class goals in the competition. Ibrahimovic made 120 appearances in the Champions League and scored 48 goals at that, making him the greatest Swedish striker in the history of the competition. Ibrahimovic amazingly played for six clubs in the Champions League but failed to win the title with even one of them. He might’ve been this powerful goal-scorer, but he just didn’t have lady luck beside him to win the Champions League crown. Despite that, Ibrahimovic is still a unique player to feature for so many clubs and manage to score so many goals in the competition.
8 Andriy Shevchenko - 48 Goals
Andriy Shevchenko was a really dynamic striker for AC Milan in the Champions League, as he really thrived under the pressure of the competition and led the line brilliantly for Milan. Shevchenko has a terrific goal-scoring record in the Champions League, having scored 48 goals in 100 appearances in the completion. He won the Champions League crown once with Milan in the 2002/03 season and was a prolific goal scorer for them in his years with the club. Shevchenko works in an ambassador role for UEFA nowadays, but his terrific contribution for Milan in the Champions League not only makes him one of the competition’s greatest goal-scorers but retains him as a huge fan-favorite among the Milan faithful.
7 Alfredo Di Stefano - 49 Goals
Alfredo Di Stefano is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time for Real Madrid, with his fantastic work in the 1950s being the reason for Madrid’s royal status in the Champions League. Di Stefano ushered in a golden era for Madrid after the competition was first established, with his incredible work in attack helping Los Blancos bag the first five editions of the Champions League from 1956 to 1960. Di Stefano had an incredible goal-scoring record in the competition, having scored 49 goals in only 58 games in the competition. Di Stefano’s incredible goals-to-matches ratio of 0.84 itself proves how amazing he was in the Champions League and why he’s held in such high regard by Real Madrid.
6 Thierry Henry - 50 Goals
Thierry Henry was a dazzling player to watch because of his incredible ability to outsmart defenders and fantastic goal-scoring ability which made him a player for big occasions. Henry will be remembered mostly for his stint with the Gunners, whom he helped to a lot of European success in the mid-2000s. Henry really loved playing in the Champions League and scored 50 goals in over 100 appearances in the competition. He was also fortunate enough to win it once after moving to Barcelona, but some of Henry’s outstanding goals will always be remembered. The stunning Frenchman thrived under the pressure of the Champions League nights and established himself as one of its’ greatest goal scorers at the end of his glittering career.
5 Karim Benzema - 56 Goals
Karim Benzema has remained as a seemingly evergreen player for Real Madrid over the years and has stayed put despite seeing much of his peers leave. Benzema is still going strong at the age of 30 and despite being undermined by many, he’s actually one of the top goal scorers in Champions League history. Benzema has scored 54 goals in 104 appearances in the Champions League and attained a lot of success with Los Blancos in the mean-time. He even scored in the finals earlier this year to help Madrid win their 3rd consecutive CL title and won four titles in total. Benzema is already among the Champions League’s greatest goal scorers, but his hunger for more will see him move up the goal-scoring charts very soon.
4 Ruud Van Nistelrooy - 56 Goals
Ruud Van Nistelrooy is probably the greatest Dutch striker to ever grace the Champions League, with his stats proving him to be the best goal-scorer to feature from his nation in the competition. Van Nistelrooy enjoyed a lot of success in the Champions League during his time at Manchester United, where he scored goals for fun. Van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals in 73 appearances at the Champions League, with an impressive goals-to-matches ratio of 0.77. The Dutch striker was a real fox in the box, with his incredible strikers’ instincts helping him score many goals. Van Nistelrooy might not have won the Champions League, but bagged the Top-scorer award three times, which itself establishes him as one of the competitions’ greatest ever strikers.
3 Raul - 71 Goals
Raul Gonzalez is a beloved figure among the Real Madrid fans because of his incredible work for the club in his career, but he also holds a special place in Champions League history. Raul was the man for the big occasions and the Champions League was a favorite hunting ground for the Spaniard. Raul ravished playing during the European nights and scored 71 goals in 142 appearances in the competition. He also previously held the record of being the top goal-scorer in CL history before being surpassed. Raul was a lethal goal-scorer for Madrid in the Champions League and helped them secure three CL titles, which helped him earn the reputation of being one of the competition’s most lethal goal-scorers.
2 Lionel Messi - 103 Goals
Lionel Messi has earned the reputation of being “The Greatest Of All Time” at Barcelona, and his incredible work makes it hard for someone to argue with that. Messi has been the driving force for Barcelona over the years, with his incredible dribbling, goal-scoring ability helping them win many championships. Messi has been an absolutely outrageous player in the Champions League over the years, scoring some outstanding goal and proving time and again how truly special he is. Messi has scored 100 goals in the competition and helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles. The magician from Argentina has always delivered in high-pressure situations for them, with Messi’s sensational work in the Champions League making him one of the competition’s best ever players.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo - 120 Goals
If there was any player tailor-made to handle the pressure of Champions League nights, it has to be Cristiano Ronaldo because of his unreal work in it. Ronaldo has played in and won the Champions League for both Manchester United and Real Madrid in the past. He’s scored an incredible 120 goals in 153 appearances, and also won the competition’s top goal-scorer award for the past three seasons. Ronaldo has won the Champions League title a record five times and seems to have developed this unstoppable aura whenever he’s playing in it. Ronaldo has easily established himself as the greatest goal-scorer in Champions League history and knowing his ambitions, he’s going to keep scoring more and aim to lift the title with Juventus.