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Five Best Players To Never Win The Champions League

Since the Champions League replaced the European Cup in the 1992/1993 season, some of the game’s greatest names have lifted the famous trophy.

Helping your club reach the pinnacle of European football has been viewed by many as a hallmark of the game’s most iconic players, but there have been some superstars who have never achieved such success.

Here we take a look at the five best players never to win the Champions League.

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5) Dennis Bergkamp

One of the most technically gifted players of all time, Dennis Bergkamp was exceptional for boyhood club Ajax, but left the Dutch side for Inter Milan before they clinched the 1994/1995 Champions League.

Bergkamp would go on to become an Arsenal legend scoring 22 goals in all competitions as Arsenal clinched the 97/98 Premier League title before forming a brilliant strike partnership with Thierry Henry which helped the Gunners to an invincible 03/04 season.

Still though success in Europe alluded him, with 2006 Champions League final the closest the Dutchman came to glory, starting on the bench as Arsenal fell to Barcelona.

Bergkamp will go down in Arsenal and Holland folklore as one of their finest ever players, his ability on the ball, touch and technique, still virtually unparalleled to this day, however Champions League success remained outside of his grasp.

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4) Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Given the calibre of European giants he has played for, it may come as a surprise to many that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has yet to win the Champions League – he’s never even made a final.

Timing has been less than kind to Ibrahimovic who was at Inter Milan when Barcelona won the Champions League in the 08/09 season, before moving to Barcelona when Inter won the competition the next year.

Ibrahimovic has made 124 appearances in the competition for six different clubs but has found European success difficult to come by, in stark contrast to his domestic trophy haul.

The Swede is now 38 and with AC Milan again meaning he’s unlikely to break his Champions League duck.

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3) Fabio Cannavaro

One of the best defenders of the 2000s, Fabio Cannavaro has a Ballon D’or to his name, yet he remarkably never managed to win the Champions League during his glittering career.

The Italian played with Parma during their golden years in the late 90s, while also playing for Italian giants Inter Milan and Juventus, as well as Real Madrid however the European Cup continually alluded him.

During his three seasons at The Bernabeu, Real lost in the last 16 of the competition each time, with the quarter-finals for Juventus in 2005 the closest he has ever come to European glory.

Despite this, Cannavaro is still widely regarded as one of the finest defenders of the 21st century.

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2) Gianluigi Buffon

It’s been a case of ‘always the bridesmaid’ for Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon when it has come to the Champions League.

Buffon has been in goal for three Champions League finals with Juventus, but his side have failed to secure the trophy on each occasion, first in 2003 against AC Milan, then in 2015 against Barcelona, before a loss to Real Madrid in 2017.

The keeper is now back at Juventus but at 42 years of age, his window to finally clinch the European Cup is rapidly closing.

With a World Cup as well as a plethora of Serie A titles under his belt though, Buffon’s CV is still as impressive as any.

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1) Ronaldo

Had injuries not hampered his career the Brazilian Ronaldo could have arguably been the most complete striker the game has ever seen.

Even still ‘R9’ had a tremendous career, playing for the likes of Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid, however despite his goalscoring exploits, the Brazilian never managed to get his hands on the Champions League trophy.

Ronaldo won the Ballon D’or in both 1997 and 2002 but failed to even make a Champions League final throughout his career, joining Real Madrid the season after they won the title in 2001/2002.

Had he been fully fit and firing perhaps he could’ve led Inter Milan to the title or even Madrid, but it’s difficult to argue against Ronaldo being the best player to never win the Champions League.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com