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Most Decorated European Players of All Time

Tue 26 April 2022 | 4:30

Let’s take a closer look at European football’s history to find out who is most decorated European players of all time:

European football has always been at the center of the attention of the footballing world. The best football leagues and competitions, such as the Premier League, Bundesliga, Champions League and etc. are all in Europe so naturally all the players in the world tend to end up there if they are good enough. And like any other sport, competitive football is very much centered on winning trophies and silverware.

the players that hunger for those trophies and have made a habit of winning those trophies are arguably some of the best footballers of all time. Although admittedly, they must have had luck on their side to be part of great teams and clubs that have won trophies over the course of their individual careers. We are here to take a look at those players and find out who are the

most decorated European players of all time

:

Most Decorated Players in the World in 2022

Obviously, the list that we have compiled here does not include the footballers with the most individual trophies. We have only included the collective or team trophies of each player on this list. So here are the most decorated players in the world in 2022:

Vitor Baia

We start off with a goalkeeper and that is the Portuguese legend, Vitor Baia. The former Porto shot-stopper was one of the best keepers around in the 90s, a decade full of legendary goalkeepers, and got to spend his entire career at Porto, besides the two seasons he stayed at Barcelona. A key part of the Portuguese national team during the 1990s, Baia was one of the reasons that Portugal experienced a football renaissance in that era and he continued to appear for them even in the 2000s, all the while he was becoming one of the most decorated European players of all time.

A

Porto

academy graduate, Vitor Baia made his debut for the club in 1988 while he was still a teenager. He went on to become a regular at Porto and by 1995 he had established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Which prompted Barcelona to sign him in 1996 for €6.5m making him the most expensive goalkeeper ever at the time. Injuries and a change of manager at Barcelona shortened his stay at Nou Camp and Baia decided to come back to his beloved Porto where he would spend the rest of his career.

Having won multiple trophies at Porto before he left in 1996 as well as his trophies at Barcelona, Baia’s 2nd time at Porto seemed more fruitful although his injuries hounded him from time to time. Perhaps the highlight of his career would be winning the 2003-04 Champions League with that legendary Porto squad, headed by Jose Mourinho.

Baia finished his career a few years later at the age of 38, having won 30 trophies including: 11 league titles, 7 domestic cups, a Champions League, a UEFA Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup as well as several supercups during his time at Barcelona and Porto thus becoming one of the most decorated European players of all time.

Thomas Muller

One of the best soccer players in Europe in 2022 is definitely Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller who is the most decorated German player of all time. A product of Bayern Munich’s own youth academy, Thomas Muller made his way to the first team back when Louis van Gaal became

Bayern Munich

’s manager during 2009-10 season. And from the onset, Muller showed his great potential, a potential that he has more than fulfilled during the course of his prestigious career at Bayern and Germany.

After becoming a regular during the 2009-10 season with Bayern and almost achieving a Treble, Muller went on to win the 2010 World Cup Golden Boot at the age of 21. He has since won 10 Bundesliga titles and 6 DFB Pokals as well as 2 Club World Cups. Thomas Muller is also one of only 13 players to have won the Treble twice in their career (2013,2020). After achieving the 3rd place in the 2010 World Cup, Muller and Germany went on to win it in 2014 where Muller once again scored 5 goals, this time picking up the Silver Boot after James Rodriguez.

Despite his goofy demeanor, Muller is actually one of the smartest players of his generation, known for his exceptional positioning and movement on the pitch. Some like to call the role he plays “Raumdeuter” as he is able to use the space he is given to its deadliest effect. Even though he is a natural goal-scorer, he is even a better goal creator, as he often has a high number of assists every season. In 2019-20 season he registered an incredible 21 assists-tally which is a record, shared by Lionel Messi, in the Europe’s top 5 leagues.

Even though he hasn’t won as many individual trophies as some of the people on this list, there is no denying that Thomas Muller is one of

best European footballers of all time

. He represents the winning mentality that Bayern Munich is known for and his 30 trophies is a testament to that. He is a player who always leads by example, working hard to get every ball, create scoring opportunities and achieve his ultimate goal, which is winning in Bayern or

Germany

’s shirt.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

There is no one in the world that would praise Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s achievements more than he does himself. So, if we call him a brilliant striker that dominated every league he ever set foot in, you could be sure that he has said it himself. In fact, it could be a direct quote from him. But even with how arrogant he is, there is no denying that there is a certain charm to his behavior as well as a massive respect that he is due because of his achievements and status as one of the greatest modern football players.

After starting his career at Malmo FF, Zlatan went on to play for several European giants including, Ajax,

Juventus

, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan and on the back of winning the Serie A with AC Milan in 2010-11 season and having a great season in 2011-12 with the Milan side, Zlatan came to the Ligue 1 to help PSG rise to the heights that their new owners aspired to. The deal turned out to be a great one for both the club and the player since he absolutely dominated the French league and rose to the top of the footballing world with his goals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to score more than 500 career club goals as well as 62 goals for Sweden, becoming one of the best European footballers of all time. Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic couldn’t help

PSG

achieve any European glory, he did however lead them to 4

Ligue 1

, 3 Coupe de la Ligue and 2 Coupe de France trophies and helped the Ligue 1 be an exciting competition once again which attracted many fans worldwide, in part due to Zlatan’s star power.

This is on top of the numerous trophies he won across the top 5 leagues which brings his total trophies to 31, making him one of the

most decorated European players of all time

.  

Kenny Dalglish

There can’t be any bigger legends than Kenny Dalglish since the man became one of the best Liverpool players of all time in his playing days and then immediately became one of their most successful managers ever. The man is a club legend in every sense of the word and if we count his trophies as both the manager and a player there isn’t a player among the best European footballers of all time that could even touch the amount of trophies Dalglish has won.

Almost as big of a legend for Scottish national team and

Celtic

as he is for Liverpool, Sir Kenny Dalglish started his senior career in 1969, having been a part of the Celtic academy. after achieving massive success with the Scottish club, which included 4 league titles and 4 cups, Dalglish joined Liverpool in 1977. Dalglish soon delivered on his rather hefty transfer sum and big reputation and started scoring regularly for Liverpool.

As a striker, Dalglish possessed an incredible level of technique which allowed him to find pockets in opposition’s defense and exploit them, either through creating chances or scoring goals. His partnership with Ian Rush later in his Liverpool career, made the duo one of the most potent strike partnership in Europe which helped Liverpool dominate in every competition.

As if his 169 goals in 502 matches for Liverpool which resulted in them winning 6 league titles, 4 League Cups, 3 European Cups and an FA Cup was not enough for the Scotsman, he went on to become

Liverpool

’s manager as well and ended up winning 3 league titles and 2 FA Cups in that role as well. Sir Kenny Dalglish is the undisputed King of Anfield as well as being one of the most decorated European players of all time, having won 31 pieces of silverware as a player.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Words are simply not enough to state the hunger Cristiano Ronaldo has for winning in football. One of the best European footballers of all time, the Portuguese megastar has always had a winning mentality, something that is the main reason of him being at the top of the footballing pyramid, and it is precisely that mentality that has made him one of the

top 10 football players of all time

as well as one of the most decorated players in the world in 2022. Ronaldo also has chosen his clubs quite carefully as he has one silverware in every club he has ever played.

Cristiano started his football career at Sporting CP, making his first appearance for the first team during the 2002-03 season. He then caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson who was looking to replace David Beckham that had joined Real Madrid. Ronaldo joined Manchester United in 2003 and the rest is as they say history. Having won everything there was in England and Europe as well as a Ballon d’Or in Manchester United, Ronaldo joined

Real Madrid

in 2009 and it was there that he became the legend he is today.

His rivalry with Leo Messi propelled both players into achieving unimaginable footballing heights as both players were constantly trying to outdo one another both in terms of goals scored as well as the trophies won. As a result, both players became two of the most decorated individuals in the history of football.

As for Cristiano Ronaldo, the Manchester United and Real Madrid legend has won 7 league titles with both those teams as well as Juventus. He has also won 6 domestic cups and a whopping 5 Champions League titles as well as numerous other trophies. Cristiano has also won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies which is only bested by Leo Messi’s 7, making Ronaldo one of the most decorated European players of all time with a total of 31 trophies.

Xavi Hernandez

Following Ronaldo is Barcelona’s current manager and former captain, Xavi Hernandez, who is arguably one of the most important players of the 21st century. The Spanish midfield maestro helped Barcelona and Spain experience a renaissance and a golden age as he partnered up with Andres Iniesta to make one of the deadliest midfield partnerships in history. Xavi is considered by many to be one of the greatest midfielders that football has ever seen and seeing that he is still one of the

most decorated players in the world in 2022

, it is hard to argue that.

A product of Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia academy, Xavi Hernandez, like so many of his generation, grew up watching Cryuff’s Dream Team with players like Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrop as his role models. He then found his way to Barcelona’s first team in the 1998-99 season and became a regular soon after that.

Between 1998 and 2015, Xavi literally won everything at the club level with Barcelona and was one of the key figures in Barcelona winning so many trophies. His leadership in the heart of midfield for Spain also led the La Roja to win 2 back-to-back European Championships as well as a World Cup in between from 2008 till 2012.

Having won his first piece of silverware in his debut season, which was a La Liga title, Xavi went on to win a total of 8 La Liga titles and 4 Copa del Rey with Barcelona as well as 4 Champions League titles which makes him one of the most decorated players in the history of European Cup. Xavi also won 2 Club World Cups and several Supercups with Barcelona before leaving to join Al Sadd in 2015 where he won a league title and several cup trophies, bringing his total count of silverware to 32, making him one of the most decorated European players of all time.

Sergio Busquets

Another Barcelona midfielder to be amongst the most decorated players in the world in 2022 as well as being one of the

best soccer players in Europe in 2022

is their current captain, Sergio Busquets. The silent man in Barcelona and Spain’s midfield line is undoubtedly one of the most important players in success of both those teams as well as being possibly one of the best holding midfielders ever. Like many Barcelona players of his generation, Busquets has won a ridiculous amount of trophies so it is no surprise that he is this high on the list.

Like Iniesta and Xavi who came before him, Sergio Busquets was also a La Masia player. After seeing the success of La Masia graduates all over Europe, with Messi, Pique and Fabregas all being some of the best youngsters in Europe, Barcelona continued to put their trust in their academy graduates, one of them being Busquets. In fact, after Pep Guardiola was raised from the reserves team to manage Barcelona’s first team, he only brought one player with him from Barca B and that was Busquets. That is how integral he was to the Tiki Taka that Guardiola’s team became famous for playing.

As a holding midfielder, Busquets’ job was to screen the midfield and snuff out any situation that was even slightly dangerous. Busquets’ extreme proficiency allowed Barcelona to play a high defensive line and an extremely attacking playing style which helped them dominate Spain and Europe. Much of his job was to free Xavi and Iniesta and allow them to be as creative as they could be, while he guarded their back. Of course, Busquets has never been a one-note player as he is quite technically gifted and can bypass the opposition’s defensive lines with his well-timed dribbles.

Having made his debut for

Barcelona

in 2008, Busquets has been a regular for Barcelona and Spain practically since his debut season and is still one of the most important players for both teams. He has won 8 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey, 3 Champions Leagues and 3 Club World Cups as well as winning the Euros and the World Cup once each with Spain. One of the most decorated European players of all time with 32 trophies, Sergio Busquets will undoubtedly go down as one of the best midfielders of the 21st century.

Ryan Giggs

From a Barcelona legend to a Manchester United one, Ryan Giggs, who gets talked about quite less often, perhaps because of his questionable lifestyle and the scandals that he has been part of outside the pitch. However, the former Manchester United and Wales captain won everything that there was at club level on the pitch, in a career that was solely spent at Manchester United.

Son of a Rugby player, Ryan Giggs started his career at Manchester City’s youth academy but after 2 years he became a United academy player and part of their famous Class of 92 that included players like David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. He made his debut for United however, during the 90-91 season and became a regular the following season, and soon after started helping United achieve great things.

After 24 seasons of playing for Manchester United and becoming one of the illusive one-club players, Ryan Giggs managed to win 34 trophies and become one of the most decorated European players of all time. His trophies include a record 13

Premier League

titles as well as 2 Champions Leagues and 6 domestic cups. Seeing how competitive English football is, it is doubtful that any player could match or surpass Giggs achievement at the club level there!

Gerrard Pique 

Another one of the 4 Barcelona players that are amongst the most decorated European players of all time, Gerrard Pique is considered by some to be one of the best defenders of the 21st century. The Spanish center back was another La Masia graduate but opted to start his senior career at Manchester United rather than Barcelona. After gradually making his way to the first team and winning several honors with United Pique came back home to Barcelona in 2008 where he became a regular.

A tall and strong player, Gerrard Pique is a great example of a modern center back, one that is able to both defend as well as help in attack. His partnership with Carles Puyol and later Sergio Ramos in the Spain national team led to many trophies for both Spain and Barcelona with the giant center back playing a big role in all of those achievements.

With 35 major trophies which includes 9 league trophies with United and Barcelona and 7 Copa del Rey trophies, 3 World Cups and 4 Champions League trophies, Gerrard Pique is one of the

most decorated European players of all time

and will certainly go down in history as one of the best Spanish players ever!

Andres Iniesta

Don Iniesta really needs no introduction since the former Barcelona captain is undoubtedly one of the greatest midfielders of all time and with 35 major trophies, he is one of the most decorated European footballers ever, too. In fact, he is the most decorated European footballer ever. A player that excelled at everything a midfielder does, Andres Iniesta played a huge role in both Barcelona and Spain’s success during his career and will go down in history as possibly the

best Spanish player of all time

.

A product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, Andres Iniesta grew up watching Cryuff’s Dream Team and admiring the likes of Michael Laudrup, whom he modeled his game after. Although he started his career playing as a defensive midfielder, his quick feet, great vision, outstanding passing ability and the hunger to be involved in creating and scoring goals made him transition into more of an attack-minded midfielder. An extremely versatile player, Iniesta was able to play anywhere in the midfield or even in attack behind the main striker.

His legendary partnership with Xavi made the pair an almost perfect set of midfielders that could do everything on the pitch, from defending to controlling the heartbeat of the game. This allowed Barcelona to have a Golden Age, spearheaded by Lionel Messi, as well as the Spain national team to win two European Championship as well as a World Cup. In fact, Iniesta was the player that scored Spain’s winning goal in dying minutes of extra time in the 2010 World Cup and for that alone he will be remembered as one of the best Spanish players ever!

Add to that his 9 La Liga trophies, 6 Copa del Reys and 4 Champions League and you end up with one of the

best European footballers of all time

, one that will be talked about for years to come either because of his achievements or because of the way he played football which resembled art more than anything else!

 

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