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UEFA Champions League is the most thrilling club competition at European level. There are even a few who maintain that it is more exciting than the biggest sporting event in the world – The FIFA World Cup. It’s a dream for all footballers to win the coveted trophy. However, not even the biggest football legends win the ‘Big Ears’.
Some footballers possessed the charisma and fame which many dream to have but, due to different reasons, they couldn’t fill in the void of the Champions League trophy in their shining trophy cabinet. Here are the five biggest legends who didn’t lift the Champions League:
Diego Maradona was arguably the best football player to grace the football field. Be it him leading the Albiceleste to World Cup glory or his great success with Barcelona and Napoli, Maradona hung his boots after establishing himself as a true legend of the game. In the first knockout round of the 1987-88 European Cup competition, Napoli were drawn against Spanish giants Real Madrid and they lost 3-1 on aggregate. Maradona played the full 90 minutes of both the legs of the tie but failed to inspire his side against a much more accomplished Real Madrid side, who despite playing their home leg behind closed doors comfortably won 2-0.
Despite being one of the best strikers of all time, Ronaldo El Fenόmeno was never able to achieve the Orejona. The legendary Brazilian came close on many occasions including the 2002-03 season, where Real Madrid’s efforts of winning ‘La Decima’ were trashed by Juventus in the semifinals with the two-legged tie ending 4 – 3 on aggregate. Ronaldo, however, was successful in lifting every other trophy that he played for.
Easily one of the best finishers the world has ever seen, Van Nistelrooy led the goal scoring charts for three Champions League seasons. He is still among the elite footballers to be ranked in the list of top scorers of the competition. He scored an incredible 56 goals with 73 shots on target which is still a record to this date. However, he never got further than the semi-finals. The closest he came was in the 2001/02 season as Bayer Leverkusen beat Manchester United led by a very committed Ballack.
The Sweden international has won league titles at all his previous clubs, a stat that most footballers would be proud of. However he is yet to lift the most coveted trophy at the club level. It just didn’t happen for him despite him putting on the uniform of some of the greatest teams – AFC Ajax, Juventus, FC Internazionale Milano, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain.
Unfortunately for the Italian legend, his love for Roma effectively reduced his chances of winning the Champions League. He gave some phenomenal performances in the Champions League and hook the football fans with many memorable nights that they could reminisce upon for years to come. “I’ve always dreamed I would wear this shirt for my entire career“, Totti claimed and retired leaving the football fans with many what-ifs. A sad fact – AS Roma never advanced to the semi-final stage during the entirety of Totti’s career.
Founder and editor of Footiecentral. A voracious reader who loves reading anything and everything related to the history of football. He’s an ardent supporter of Manchester United and rarely misses a match.