Everyone who follows football is aware of the Champions League. Let’s see who the top goal scorers in UEFA Champions League history are today.
One name stands out above the rest in the prestigious world of European football, where legends are built and history is made: the top goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League. With each goal, they cement their place in football history, leaving an everlasting impact on the beautiful game. We dig into the fascinating world of the UEFA Champions League’s leading goal scorer in this article, revealing the records broken, the moments of brilliance, and the amazing journey that has brought them to the summit of European club football. Join us in celebrating this footballing maestro’s amazing exploits and raw talent, whose feats continue to enchant fans across the world.
The famous UEFA Champions League, formerly known as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup or, more colloquially, the European Cup until 1992, is an illustrious annual association football cup competition methodically controlled by UEFA since its beginning in 1955. In its first incarnation, it was a direct elimination tournament open only to champion clubs. However, a watershed moment occurred in the 1990s, with the introduction of a round-robin group phase and an increased list of competing teams.
This expansion resulted in a large rise in the number of matches played, hence increasing the number of opportunities for players to make their imprint on the score sheet. As a result, when ranking the all-time leading goal scorers, the rankings are inherently slanted in favour of those who have played in the restructured Champions League format. Surprisingly, just seven of the 51 players on this renowned list have never competed in the modernised version of this revered tournament.
Top 10 Player to Score Most Goals In UEFA Champions League History
Cristiano Ronaldo: 140 Goals (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
Cristiano Ronaldo is an indelible presence in the UEFA Champions League, holding the unrivalled distinction of all-time best scorer with an incredible 140 goals to his name. His impact in football history was shaped by periods at prestigious clubs such as Manchester United (21 goals), Real Madrid (105 goals), and Juventus (14 goals).
One of Ronaldo’s most impressive achievements is his record for the most goals in a single Champions League season, which he set while playing for Real Madrid in 2013-14. That incredible season concluded in Real Madrid’s thrilling UCL final victory over Atlético Madrid.
Ronaldo did not end there. He continued to astound the footballing world in 2015-16, scoring 16 goals and demonstrating his consistency and undying passion for success in this elite tournament.
Not only is Ronaldo’s goal total impressive, but so are his awards. The Portuguese maestro has won the competition’s top scorer award seven times, a record that spans both the European Cup and the Champions League periods. Cristiano Ronaldo’s unbreakable spirit and prowess have left an indelible stamp on the world’s greatest club competition, establishing him as a true icon of the game.
Lionel Messi : 128 Goals (Barcelona & PSG)
Lionel Messi is the second-highest scorer, with 129 goals, an accomplishment that inspires awe and admiration. Messi shines even brighter in his relationship with one great club, Barcelona, having scored an amazing 120 of his 129 goals while donning the Blaugrana colours. His quest for greatness continues at Paris Saint-Germain, where he has already scored nine goals since joining in the summer of 2021.
Messi’s records are more than just statistics; they are proof of his enduring greatness. His feat of scoring against 40 different opponents in the UEFA Champions League is unprecedented, even exceeding the renowned Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally of 38. Among those opponents, Arsenal stands out as Messi’s favourite prey, succumbing to his prowess on nine occasions, accounting for 7% of his total UCL goals.
Beyond the stats, Messi’s consistency is remarkable. The 2022 World Cup winner has scored in an incredible 18 separate seasons of UCL play, demonstrating his persistent prowess. He has scored in every season since 2005-06, which he shares with Karim Benzema. However, the French striker has replicated Messi’s feat by scoring in all 18 UCL seasons he has played in since 2005-06. Lionel Messi’s UEFA Champions League legacy is a symphony of skill, dedication, and unrivalled goal-scoring power that has been engraved into the very fabric of football history.
Robert Lewandowski : 91 Goals (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona)
Robert Lewandowski, the prolific striker, is on the verge of surpassing a century of goals in the UEFA Champions League. However, as he approaches this historic milestone, ageing may become an issue, with the Barcelona talisman now 34 years old and nine goals short of the coveted century.
Lewandowski shown his unbreakable spirit throughout the 2022-23 season, scoring five goals in five games for Barcelona. However, an unexpected group-stage exit sent them to the UEFA Europa League, delaying Lewandowski’s quest for Champions League triumph until the following season.
Lewandowski’s amazing score of 91 UCL goals, 69 of which came during his time at Bayern Munich, a club he joined from Borussia Dortmund. In the process, he engraved his name in Bayern’s annals, breaking Gerd Müller’s record of 65 goals in European competitions. Lewandowski’s excellence also extends beyond the Bundesliga club’s record for most goals in a single season within the tournament, a spectacular 15-goal haul during the 2019-20 season that pushed Bayern to Champions League victory. Notably, he became the first Polish player to win the top scorer award in a single season of UCL/European Cup competition. The path of Robert Lewandowski to the UEFA Champions League century is a monument to his enduring talent and an inspiration to others.
Karim Benzema – 90 Goals (Lyon, Real Madrid)
Benzema is his remarkable consistency. He has an unrivalled record in the tournament, having scored in each of the 18 seasons he has played in since his debut with Lyon in 2005-06.
The French striker won his first Champions League top scorer award with a record 15 goals in the 2021-22 season, propelling Real Madrid to triumph in the competition. It’s worth mentioning, though, that he failed to score in the final versus Liverpool in Paris.
With 78 goals in the UEFA Champions League, Benzema’s legacy at Real Madrid is similarly outstanding. While he currently lags Cristiano Ronaldo’s club record of 105 goals, Benzema’s extraordinary consistency and scoring skill have engraved his name in the tournament’s annals. As he continues his football career, the issue is whether he will attain the elusive 90-goal mark in this famous competition.
Karim Benzema’s latest move to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia begs the question: is he on his way to 90 goals in the UEFA Champions League.
Raúl González – 71 Goals (Real Madrid & Schalke 04)
Raúl is synonymous with goal-scoring prowess and enduring greatness in the hallowed halls of the UEFA Champions League. The former Spanish international is Real Madrid’s third-highest goal-scorer in competition history, a fantastic performance highlighted by his 66 goals. When all players in the tournament’s illustrious history are considered, his total goal total of 71 places him among the top five.
Raúl’s ascendancy to the zenith of goal-scoring glory was punctuated by significant milestones. He reigned as the competition’s top scorer until November 2014 when he was eventually surpassed by the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. In September 2005, he etched his name in history once more by becoming the first player to reach the illustrious 50-goal mark in the competition, an achievement that resonates with the rich tradition of Real Madrid. It’s worth noting that prior to Raúl’s feat, the legendary Alfredo Di Stéfano had come agonizingly close with 49 goals in European competitions for the Spanish side.
Raúl’s swansong in the UEFA Champions League unfolded during the 2010-11 season with German outfit FC Schalke 04. Remarkably, at the age of 33, he managed to find the net five times, further solidifying his status as a footballing icon. His final tally of 71 goals in the competition remains unparalleled among Spanish players, dwarfing even the closest contender, Fernando Morientes, who recorded 33 goals. Raúl’s legacy in the UEFA Champions League is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence and his enduring impact on the world of football.