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Champions League all-time record appearances

Mon 18 October 2021 | 11:30

Which player has made the most Champions League appearances? Stay with us until the end to find it out.

The UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious club competition, has been held since 1955. Known as the European cup, it was only for the champions of Europe's domestic leagues. The tournament took on its current name in 1992, and also a round-robin group stage was added in the same year. 

Since the rebranding in 1992, a total of 40 footballers have managed to make at least 100 appearances in the competition. Raul, the former

Real Madrid

player, is the first played more than 100 times in Champions League. From Cristiano Ronaldo to Iker Casillas, there are the best players on the list of

Champions League all-time record appearances

, but who has played there most?

It is worth mentioning that five footballers scored in their 100th appearance, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic for

Paris Saint-Germain

against Olympiacos, Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund, Thierry Henry for Barcelona against Sporting CP, Andrea Pirlo for Juventus against Olympiacos, Toni Kroos for Real Madrid against Galatasaray.

The UEFA Champions League has been the stage for world-class footballers, so which footballers have made the most Champions League appearances? Join us in the following article to take a look at the most enduring stars in the history of the competition.

Appearances UEFA Champions League

Are you ready to review Champions League all-time record appearances? If yes, then let's dig in.

Toni Kroos

  • Position:

    Central Midfield

  • Appearances:

    116

  • Minutes played:

    9.167

Goals:

9

On 5 November 2008, the German midfielder Toni Kroos made his debut in the competition against

Fiorentina

as a 79th-minute substitute for Bayern Munich. He has played 116 times in Champions League, 42 times for Bayern Munich, and 74 times for Real Madrid.

Kroos has won the title four times, once with Bayern Munich and three times with Real Madrid. He was named in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season five times (2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, and 2017–18). Currently, he is playing for Real Madrid, and of course, he will make more appearances in the competition.

Xabi Alonso

  • Position:

    Defensive Midfield

  • Appearances:

    119

  • Minutes played:

    9.704

Goals:

6

One of the most successful footballers in the history of the tournament is Xabi Alonso. The Spanish footballer played in the Champions League with four clubs,

Real Sociedad

(eight times), Liverpool (39 times), Real Madrid (47 times), Bayern Munich (25 times). He made his competition debut with Real Sociedad and helped the club to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the 2002-03 season. 

Alonso won the title two times, once in the 2004-05 season with Liverpool and the last time, 2013-14 season with the Whites. He also scored six times in the tournament. One of his notable individual achievements is he was selected in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the 2013- 14 season. In 2017, the Spanish legend retired from professional football.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Position: Centre-Forward

  • Appearances: 120

  • Goals: 48

  • Minutes played: 9.737

Widely known as one of the most decorated active footballers in the world, the Swedish legend is the third-greatest player who never to win the UEFA Champions League. He played in the competition with seven different clubs, Ajax (19 times), Juventus (19 times), Inter Milan (22 times), Barcelona (10 times), Milan (16 times), Paris Saint-Germain (33 times), Manchester United (one time).

On 17 September 2002, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his debut in the Champions League for Ajax against Lyon, scoring twice in a 2–1 victory over French champions. As an Ajax player, he scored five times for the club in the Champions League. The Swedish footballer has scored 48 goals in 120 appearances that he made in the Champions League. Ibrahimovic was selected in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the 2013- 14 season. Currently, the legend kicks the ball at AC Milan, the Italian club.

Roberto Carlos

  • Position:

    Left-Back

  • Appearances:

    120

  • Goals:

    16

  • Minutes played:

    10.565

The next footballer in our list of Champions League all-time record appearances is the Brazilian Roberto Carlos. The Brazilian footballer joined Real Madrid in 1996 and played for the first time in the Champions League with the Whites. The legend, considered one of the best left-back in the world, played in the 1998, 2000, and 2002 UEFA Champions League finals.

In the 2002 final, he assisted Zinedine Zidane's winning goal, becoming one of the greatest goals in Champions League history. Carlos played in the tournament with two clubs, Real Madrid (107 times) and

Fenerbahce

(13 times), scoring 16 goals for two clubs.

The Brazilian legend achieved three UEFA Champions League titles (1997-98, 1999-00, 2001-02) during his spell at the Whites. He also was named the UEFA Club Defender of the Year two times (2002, 2003). In 2012 he ended his career at Anzhi Makhachkala, a Russian Premier League club.

Manuel Neuer

  • Position:

    Goalkeeper

  • Appearances:

    121

  • Minutes played:

    10.890

Goals:

-

The German goalkeeper is the next footballer in the list of Champions League all-time record appearances. On 5 March 2008, Manuel Neuer made his Champions League debut for

Schalke 04

against Porto, keeping his club in the game with several saves and forcing the game into penalties. He helped the German club advance to the quarter-finals by saving penalties from Bruno Alves and Lisandro Lopez. He played 22 times for Schalke in the competition. 

The goalkeeper went on to play for Bayern Munich and has made 99 appearances at the Bavarians in the Champions League. He was selected at the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season three times (2013–14, 2015–16, and 2019–20). The legend goalkeeper is still playing in Bayern Munich.

Sergio Busquets

  • Position:

    Defensive Midfield

  • Appearances:

    121

  • Minutes played:

    9.739

Goals:

4

Nicknamed Octopus, Sergio Busquets is regarded as one of the most successful players in the UEFA Champions League history. On 22 October 2008, Busquets, Barcelona footballer, played for the first time in Champions League against

Basel

, scoring a goal in the 15th minute. The Spanish footballer has made 121 appearances in the tournament, scoring four goals.

Sergio Busquets has won three UEFA Champions League in 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15 seasons. He also was named at the UEFA Champions League Squad of the 2014-15 season. One of his memorable matches in the Champions League came on 28 May 2011, when Busquets played the full match in Barca's 3 – 1 victory against Manchester United at the Champions League final.

Gerard Pique

  • Position:

    Centre-Back

  • Appearances:

    121

  • Goals:

    15

  • Minutes played:

    10.100

The 34 years old footballer is one of the most

appearances UEFA Champions League

footballers. On 7 November 2007, Gerard Pique played for the first time in the competition for Manchester United against Dynamo Kyiv, scoring one of Manchester United's four goals in that match and becoming the 450th player to score at least one goal for the club. On 12 December 2007, Pique scored his second goal in the competition for the Red Devils against Roma.

On 26 November 2008, Pique scored his first goal for Barcelona in the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League group stage against Sporting CP. He has played with two clubs in the competition, Manchester United (4 times), Barcelona (117 times). The Spanish footballer has made 121 appearances in the Champions League, scoring 15 goals. On 20 October 2020, Barcelona extended his contract till 20 June 2024.

Gianluigi Buffon

  • Position: Goalkeeper

  • Appearances: 124

  • Goals: -

  • Minutes played: 11.220

Considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Gianluigi Buffon is one of the most successful players in the UEFA Champions League history. The legend goalkeeper has played in the competition with three clubs. On 13 August 1997, when he was a Parma footballer, Buffon made his debut in the UEFA Champions League against Widzew Lodz. He played six times in Champions League with Parma.

The Italian goalkeeper then moved to

Juventus

, where he played 113 times in the competition, but he could not win the title during his spell at the Italian club. Currently, Buffon is a Paris Saint-Germain footballer and has played five times in Champions League with the French club. The Italian goalkeeper has reached to UEFA Champions League Final three times, but he has not won the title yet.

Paul Scholes

  • Position:

    Central Midfield

  • Appearances:

    124

  • Goals:

    24

  • Minutes played:

    9.234

Manchester United former footballer Paul Scholes is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation. The English footballer has received praise from various managers and players over his career. The strong midfielder, who was a product of the Manchester youth system, played in Manchester United during his whole professional career.

The legend made 124 appearances in the competition, winning two UEFA Champions League titles (in 1998–99 and 2007–08 seasons). Paul Scholes scored 24 goals in the competition, becoming the highest goal-scoring central midfielder in Champions League history. In September 2008, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. On 11 May 2013, the Englishman announced his retirement.

Clarence Seedorf

  • Position:

    Central Midfield

  • Appearances:

    125

  • Goals:

    11

  • Minutes played:

    9.515

The legendary Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf is considered one of the most successful players in the UEFA Champions League history. The Dutch legend is the only player to have won the Champions League with three clubs, Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998,

AC Milan

in 2003 and 2007.

Born in 1976, Seedorf made his competition debut as a substitute for Ajax on 14 September 1994, in a 2-0 victory against Milan. A world-class midfielder, who was capable of scoring from distance, played 125 times in Champions League, scoring 11 goals. His last-ever appearance in the Champions League was on 3 April 2012, a 3-1 defeat to Barcelona.

Thomas Muller

  • Position:

    Second Striker

  • Appearances:

    126

  • Goals:

    49

  • Minutes played:

    8.716

On 10 March 2009, when Thomas Muller came on as a second-half substitute for Bastian Schweinsteiger in Bayern Munich victory over Sporting scored his team's last goal as the German club won 7–1 win over Sporting CP. A product of Bayern's youth system, Muller made 126 appearances in the competition, lifting the trophy twice. He has scored 49 goals for the Bavarians, featuring Bayern Munich in 14 consecutive Champions League seasons and counting. 

The most decorated German footballer in history, Thomas Muller, was selected at the UEFA Champions League Squad of the 2019-20 season. One of his memorable matches in the Champions League came in the final against

Chelsea

, where the German striker scored the opening goal in the 83rd minute before being substituted for defender Daniel Van Buyten moments later, however, Bayern conceded a late equalizer, and they lost the final on penalties.

Sergio Ramos

  • Position:

    Centre-Back

  • Appearances:

    129

  • Goals:

    15

  • Minutes played:

    11.279

Between 2014 and 2018, the Whites were the dominant force in the Champions League, and Sergio Ramos was one of the Spanish club's key members. In 2005, the defender made his debut in Champions League against Lyon, and on 6 December 2005, he netted his first goal for the Whites in a 2–1 UEFA Champions League group stage at Olympiacos.

He has made 129 appearances in the competition and won the title on four occasions, becoming one of the Champions League-winning players. Ramos played a crucial role in the build-up to all four UEFA Champions League wins and was named in the competition Squad of the Season each time (2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18).

One of his memorable performances in the tournament came in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, where he scored the equalizer in the 93rd minute of the fixture against their rival,

Atletico Madrid

.

Andres Iniesta

  • Position:

    Centre-Back

  • Appearances:

    130

  • Goals:

    11

  • Minutes played:

    9.236

Andres Iniesta, like his partner-in-crime Xavi, played 130 times in Champions League for Barcelona. During the 2002-03 season, he made his debut in the competition; during the 2005-06 season, he played in 11 games of the Champions League, including a half-time appearance in 2006 final. His extraordinary performance helped the club win the title.

The Spanish midfielder won the title on four occasions (2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15), becoming the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time. One of his memorable moments in the competition came in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea when he scored with the outside of his right foot 25 yards from goal. Later he said: "I connected with that shot with the outside, not the inside or the tip of my boot, but right from my heart, with all my might."

Karim Benzema

  • Position:

    Centre-Forward

  • Appearances:

    132

  • Goals:

    72

  • Minutes played:

    9.360

The next footballer in the list of Champions League all-time record appearances is Karim Benzema. Real Madrid's star managed to equal Raul, the former Real Madrid's footballer, Champions League goal haul. The French international made his Champions League debut in Lyon's final group stage match against

Rosenborg

, scoring his first professional goal. Since then, he played 131 more times, 113 of which have been Real Madrid's footballer.

Benzema won the UEFA Champions League title on four occasions, scoring 72 goals. The French legend also was named at the UEFA Champions League Squad of 2020-21 season and has become UEFA Champions League top assist provider in the 2011-12 season. During the 2008-09 season, he scored five goals, being among the top scorers in the Champions League group stage.

Ryan Giggs

  • Position:

    Left Midfield

  • Appearances:

    141

  • Goals:

    28

  • Minutes played:

    10.556

Regarded as one of Manchester United's greatest ever players, Ryan Giggs is one of the most successful players in the UEFA Champions League history. In 1993, he played for the first time in the competition. During the 1996-97 season, the Welsh footballer helped Red Devils reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, the first Manchester United side in 28 years to achieve this.

The Welsh footballer won two UEFA Champions League titles, scoring 28 goals in the competition. During the 2006-07 season, he became UEFA Champions League's top assist provider. On 19 May 2014, the legend announced his retirement from professional football.

Raul

  • Position:

    Second Striker

  • Appearances:

    142

  • Goals:

    71

  • Minutes played:

    12.013

Raul, the former Spanish footballer, was known as 'Mr. Champions League, before Cristiano Ronaldo, showed up in Real Madrid. The famous No.7 helped the Whites win three Champions League titles, and with 71 goals once he became the Champions League all-time greatest goalscorer. Currently, the Spanish legend is the fourth-highest goalscorer in Champions League history.

On 28 September 2005, in a group stage fixture win over Olympiacos, Raul scored in Real Madrid's 2 – 1 victory over the Greek side, becoming the first player to score 50 Champions League goals. The Spanish striker was also the first to make 100 appearances in the competition. Raul became the UEFA Champions League top goalscorer two times (1999–2000 and 2000–01).

Lionel Messi

  • Position:

    Right Winger

  • Appearances:

    151

  • Goals:

    121

  • Minutes played:

    12.013

During the 2004-05 season, Lionel Messi made his debut in the Champions League as a teenager against Shakhtar Donetsk. The legend has made 151 appearances in the competition and scored 121 goals in the Champions League, becoming one of the competition's most iconic figures. When it comes to goals, he is in second place only behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

In 2020, the Argentine magician scored for Barcelona in their 5-1 win against Ferencvaros, scoring against 36 different teams of the Champions League and breaking

Champions League records

. He also holds the record of most hat-tricks in the competition (8 hat-tricks). Messi played 149 times for the Catalans in the Champions League, winning the title on four occasions (2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, and 2014–15).

Currently, Messi is playing for Paris Saint-Germain, and he is trying to help the French side achieve the title.

Xavi

  • Position:

    Central Midfield

  • Appearances:

    151

  • Goals:

    11

  • Minutes played:

    11.303

Xavi, the former Barcelona star, holds one of the Champions League records for being the player with the most Champions League appearances for a single club. In the 1998-99 season, he made his first Champions League appearances. He played 151 times in the competition, scoring 11 goals for the Catalans.

One of his memorable matches in the competition came in the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United as he assisted the second goal. Before the match, Sir Alex Ferguson praised praise for the combination of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, said, "I don't think Xavi and Iniesta have ever given the ball away in their lives. They get you on that carousel, and they can leave you dizzy."

The legend won the UEFA Champions League title on four occasions (2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, and 2014–15).

Iker Casillas

  • Position:

    Goalkeeper

  • Appearances:

    177

  • Minutes played:

    15.787

Goals:

-

In the list of Champions League all-time record appearances, the Spanish goalkeeper is the next. Known as San Iker, the legendary Spanish goalkeeper made his debut in the competition on 15 September 1999, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to play in the final of the Champions League. The legend helped the Whites win three Champions League titles before leaving the club and joining Porto in 2015.

Casillas made 27 more Champions League appearances at the Portuguese club, adding to the 150 he made at Madrid. The legend goalkeeper holds the record for the most clean sheets in the UEFA Champions League. Casillas announced his retirement from professional football on 4 August 2020 due to his heart attack.

Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Position:

    Centre-Forward

  • Appearances:

    178

  • Goals:

    136

  • Minutes played:

    15.338

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United forward, sets another record to his name. With 178 appearances, he holds the records for most appearances in Champions League. The Portuguese legend also holds in the competition, including most goals (136 times) and assists (42). Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared in six Champions League finals, winning four of them. During the 2008-09 season, the world-class footballer became the competition top scorer, naming the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.

He has played 54 times for Manchester United, 101 times for Real Madrid, and 23 times for Juventus. One of the

Champions League-winning players

, Cristiano Ronaldo, earned the nickname 'Mr Champions League.' There is no doubt current Manchester United footballer will set more records to his name and of course make more appearances in the competition.

How did you like our article on

Champions League all-time record appearances

? Given that some of the players on this list are still playing, do you think the record will be broken? Comment us your views.

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