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  • Writer's pictureSebastian Friedrich

Champions League History - All Winners, Goal Scorers, Record Winners, Record Players

The UEFA Champions League is a prestigious competition for men's soccer clubs in Europe. It is held under the auspices of the European Football Association (UEFA), along with the UEFA Europa League and the Conference League. The competition was formerly called the European Champion Clubs' Cup before becoming known as the Champions League from the 1992/93 season. Winning the competition is considered one of the most significant achievements in professional soccer.


Real Madrid is the record winner of the competition with 14 title wins. They won the first five editions of the competition. AC Milan follows with 7 titles, while FC Bayern Munich and Liverpool FC have won 6 titles each. In Germany, only Hamburger SV and Borussia Dortmund have won the competition, once each.


The winner of the Champions League qualifies to participate in the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup and the next edition of the competition.


History

The idea for a European club competition known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup was first conceived in the 1950s. It was based on the Mitropa Cup and the Coupe Latine. Gabriel Hanot, a former French international and journalist for the French sports newspaper L'Équipe, drew up the plan for a "European Championship of Clubs." The concept was accepted by UEFA and FIFA, and the first competition was held in 1955. Real Madrid won the first title. Until 1960, Real Madrid won the competition five times in a row, which is still unmatched today. In the following years, southern European clubs such as Inter Milan, AC Milan and Benfica Lisbon dominated the competition. In the 1970s, there were conspicuous blocks of years in which representatives of the same country won the European Champion Clubs' Cup, such as Feyenoord Rotterdam and Ajax Amsterdam of the Netherlands and FC Bayern Munich of Germany. In 1992, the competition was reformed and relaunched as the UEFA Champions League to allow more clubs to participate.


Introduction of the Champions League

Originally, only the national champions of the European leagues could participate, but over time the competition was expanded and made available to other teams.


From the 1991/92 season, an intermediate round with group matches was introduced to minimize the economic risk for participants. Since 1997, runners-up from certain leagues have also been able to take part in the competition, and since 1999 even up to four teams from one association. The starting places are distributed according to UEFA's five-year ranking, with the most successful soccer associations being awarded more starting places.


In recent years, financially strong clubs from Italy, England and Spain have dominated the Champions League. The most successful teams were FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan with three titles each. In the 2013/14 season, two German teams reached the final for the first time, when FC Bayern München took on Borussia Dortmund.


Reform from the 2024/25 season

The Champions League will undergo fundamental changes from the 2024/25 season. The number of participating teams will be increased from 32 to 36, with four places awarded as follows: One place will go to the fifth-placed team in UEFA's five-year rankings, another place will be earned via the "champion's route" in qualifying, and two more places will be awarded to the two most successful national associations from the previous season in all three European Cups.


The group stage will be replaced by a single-tier league of 36 teams. Each team will play a total of eight matches by dividing the participants into four pools, each comprising nine clubs. Each team will play two teams from each pool (one home and one away), so all teams will play four home and four away games each against a total of eight different clubs. The eight matches are spread over a total of ten European Cup weeks.


The group stage is followed by a knockout round in which the teams ranked 1-8 qualify directly for the round of 16, while the teams ranked 9-24 first play the remaining eight round of 16 participants in an intermediate round. For the teams ranked 25-36, the tournament is over, with no possibility of participation in the Europa League or Europa Conference League.


UEFA hopes that the number of insignificant or predictable matches in the preliminary round will be reduced and the top teams will meet already in the first phase of the tournament. The Europa League and Europa Conference League will also be played in a similar mode to the Champions League in the future.


Television broadcast

The broadcasting of UEFA Champions League matches in Germany has been handled by various broadcasters in the past. Between 1992 and 1999, RTL Television showed the matches, followed by tm3 for one season in 1999/2000, after which the rights were split between pay TV and free TV.

Tuesday games were now shown only in encrypted form on Premiere, while Wednesday games were shown on RTL. Sat.1 took over the broadcasts from the 2003/04 season, paying around EUR 35 million per season. In the 2012/13 season, the Champions League moved to public TV for the first time, when ZDF acquired the rights for a good EUR 50 million per season. From 2018/19 to 2020/21, the matches were broadcast exclusively on pay TV on Sky Deutschland and DAZN. Since the 2021/22 season, DAZN and Amazon Prime have shared the broadcast rights, with Amazon Prime showing the top match on Tuesday and DAZN broadcasting all other matches and conferences. The final will be broadcast free-to-air on ZDF.


European Champion Clubs' Cup and UEFA Champions League winners


Real Madrid is the most successful club in the history of the Nations Cup with 14 titles. They won the first five editions of the competition and successfully defended the title in 1956-1960. In addition to Real, Ajax Amsterdam and FC Bayern Munich also successfully defended the title several times. To date, clubs from ten countries have won the competition, with Spain leading the way with 19 titles, followed by England with 14 and Italy with 12.

  • 1955/56: Real Madrid

  • 1956/57: Real Madrid

  • 1957/58: Real Madrid

  • 1958/59: Real Madrid

  • 1959/60: Real Madrid

  • 1960/61: Benfica Lisbon

  • 1961/62: Benfica Lisbon

  • 1962/63: AC Milan

  • 1963/64: Inter Milan

  • 1964/65: Inter Milan

  • 1965/66: Real Madrid

  • 1966/67: Celtic Glasgow

  • 1967/68: Manchester United

  • 1968/69: AC Milan

  • 1969/70: Feyenoord Rotterdam

  • 1970/71: Ajax Amsterdam

  • 1971/72: Ajax Amsterdam

  • 1972/73: Ajax Amsterdam

  • 1973/74: FC Bayern Munich

  • 1974/75: FC Bayern Munich

  • 1975/76: FC Bayern Munich

  • 1976/77: Liverpool FC

  • 1977/78: Liverpool FC

  • 1978/79: Nottingham Forest

  • 1979/80: Nottingham Forest

  • 1980/81: Liverpool FC

  • 1981/82: Aston Villa

  • 1982/83: Hamburger SV

  • 1983/84: Liverpool FC

  • 1984/85: Juventus Turin

  • 1985/86: Steaua Bucharest

  • 1986/87: FC Porto

  • 1987/88: PSV Eindhoven

  • 1988/89: AC Milan

  • 1989/90: AC Milan

  • 1990/91: Red Star Belgrade

  • 1991/92: FC Barcelona

  • 1992/93: Olympique Marseille

  • 1993/94: AC Milan

  • 1994/95: Ajax Amsterdam

  • 1995/96: Juventus Turin

  • 1996/97: Borussia Dortmund

  • 1997/98: Real Madrid

  • 1998/99: Manchester United

  • 1999/2000: Real Madrid

  • 2000/01: FC Bayern Munich

  • 2001/02: Real Madrid

  • 2002/03: AC Milan

  • 2003/04: FC Porto

  • 2004/05: FC Liverpool

  • 2005/06: FC Barcelona

  • 2006/07: AC Milan

  • 2007/08: Manchester United

  • 2008/09: FC Barcelona

  • 2009/10: Inter Milan

  • 2010/11: FC Barcelona

  • 2011/12: FC Chelsea

  • 2012/13: FC Bayern Munich

  • 2013/14: Real Madrid

  • 2014/15: FC Barcelona

  • 2015/16: Real Madrid

  • 2016/17: Real Madrid

  • 2017/18: Real Madrid

  • 2018/19: Liverpool FC

  • 2019/20: FC Bayern Munich

  • 2020/21: Chelsea FC

  • 2021/22: Real Madrid

List of Champions League winners by title

  • Real Madrid: 14 titles, 17 finals appearances

  • AC Milan: 7 titles, 11 finals appearances

  • FC Bayern Munich: 6 titles, 11 finals appearances

  • FC Liverpool: 6 titles, 10 finals appearances

  • FC Barcelona: 5 titles, 8 finals appearances

  • Ajax Amsterdam: 4 titles, 6 finals appearances

  • Inter Milan: 3 titles, 5 finals appearances

  • Manchester United: 3 titles, 5 finals appearances

  • Juventus Turin: 2 titles, 9 finals appearances

  • Benfica Lisbon: 2 titles, 7 finals appearances

  • Chelsea FC: 2 titles, 3 finals appearances

  • Nottingham Forest: 2 titles, 2 finals appearances

  • FC Porto: 2 titles, 2 finals appearances

  • Steaua Bucharest: 1 title, 2 finals appearances

  • Borussia Dortmund: 1 title, 2 finals appearances

  • Celtic Glasgow: 1 title, 2 finals appearances

  • Hamburger SV: 1 title, 2 finals appearances

  • Olympique Marseille: 1 title, 2 appearances in finals

  • Feyenoord Rotterdam: 1 title, 1 place in 1 final

  • Aston Villa: 1 title, 1 place in 1 final

  • PSV Eindhoven: 1 title, 1 appearance in the final

  • Red Star Belgrade: 1 title, 1 appearance in final

List of Champions League winners by country

  • Spain: 19

  • England: 14

  • Italy: 12

  • Germany: 8

  • Netherlands: 6

  • Portugal: 4

  • France: 1

  • Yugoslavia: 1

  • Romania: 1

  • Scotland: 1

Players who have won at least five Champions League titles

  • Francisco Gento: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966)

  • Juan Alonso: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • Gareth Bale: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Karim Benzema: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Dani Carvajal: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Casemiro: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Alessandro Costacurta: AC Milan (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United (2008) / Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)

  • Alfredo Di Stéfano: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • Isco: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Toni Kroos: FC Bayern Munich (2013) / Real Madrid (2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Rafael Lesmes: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • Paolo Maldini: AC Milan (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)

  • Marcelo: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Enrique Mateos: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • Marquitos: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • Luka Modrić: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Nacho: Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

  • Héctor Rial: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

  • José María Zárraga: Real Madrid (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)

Players with at least 100 Champions League matches

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: 183

  • Iker Casillas: 177

  • Lionel Messi: 163

  • Xavi: 151

  • Karim Benzema: 149

  • Ryan Giggs: 145

  • Raúl: 142

  • Thomas Müller: 141

  • Sergio Ramos: 137

  • Toni Kroos: 136

  • Paolo Maldini: 135

  • Manuel Neuer: 131

  • Andrés Iniesta: 130

  • Sergio Busquets: 129

  • Gerard Piqué: 128

  • Clarence Seedorf: 125

  • Gianluigi Buffon: 124

  • Zlatan Ibrahimović: 124

  • Paul Scholes: 124

  • Roberto Carlos: 120

  • Xabi Alonso: 119

  • Carles Puyol: 115

  • Luka Modrić: 114

  • Pepe: 113

  • Thierry Henry: 112

  • Philipp Lahm: 112

  • David Alaba: 111

  • Dani Alves: 111

  • Petr Čech: 111

  • Robert Lewandowski: 111

  • Gary Neville: 110

  • Arjen Robben: 110

  • John Terry: 109

  • Ashley Cole: 108

  • Patrice Evra: 108

  • Andrea Pirlo: 108

  • David Beckham: 107

  • Víctor Valdés: 106

  • Frank Lampard: 105

  • Cesc Fàbregas: 104

  • Thiago Silva: 104

  • Fernandinho: 103

  • Luís Figo: 103

  • Oliver Kahn: 103

  • Ángel Di María: 102

  • Marcelo: 102

  • Andriy Shevchenko: 100

Players with the most Champions League goals

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: 140 goals in 183 games

  • Lionel Messi: 129 goals in 163 games

  • Robert Lewandowski: 91 goals in 111 games

  • Karim Benzema: 90 goals in 149 games

  • Raúl: 71 goals in 142 games

  • Ruud van Nistelrooy: 56 goals in 73 games

  • Thomas Müller: 53 goals in 141 games

  • Thierry Henry: 50 goals in 112 games

  • Alfredo Di Stefano: 49 goals in 58 games

  • Andriy Shevchenko: 48 goals in 100 games

  • Zlatan Ibrahimović: 48 goals in 124 games

  • Eusébio: 46 goals in 65 games

  • Filippo Inzaghi: 46 goals in 81 games

  • Mohamed Salah: 44 goals in 78 games

  • Didier Drogba: 44 goals in 92 games

  • Neymar: 43 goals in 81 games

  • Alessandro Del Piero: 42 goals in 89 games

  • Sergio Agüero: 41 goals in 79 games

  • Kylian Mbappé: 40 goals in 61 games

  • Ferenc Puskás: 36 goals in 41 games

  • Edinson Cavani: 35 goals in 70 games

  • Erling Haaland: 34 goals in 26 games

  • Gerd Müller: 34 goals in 35 games

  • Fernando Morientes: 33 goals in 93 games

  • Arjen Robben: 31 goals in 110 games

  • Samuel Eto'o: 30 goals in 78 games

  • Antoine Griezmann: 30 goals in 85 games

  • Wayne Rooney: 30 goals in 85 games

  • Kaká: 30 goals in 86 games

  • Francisco Gento: 30 goals in 89 games

Top scorers in the European Cup of Nations and UEFA Champions League

  • 1955/56: Miloš Milutinović (FK Partizan Belgrade) - 8 goals

  • 1956/57: Dennis Viollet (Manchester United) - 9 goals

  • 1957/58: Alfredo Di Stéfano (Real Madrid) - 10 goals

  • 1958/59: Just Fontaine (Stade Reims) - 10 goals

  • 1959/60: Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid) - 12 goals

  • 1960/61: José Águas (Benfica Lisbon) - 11 goals

  • 1961/62: Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid) - 7 goals

  • 1962/63: José Altafini (AC Milan) - 14 goals

  • 1963/64: Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid) - 7 goals

  • 1964/65: Eusébio (Benfica Lisbon) - 9 goals

  • 1965/66: Eusébio (Benfica Lisbon) - 7 goals

  • 1966/67: Jürgen Piepenburg (ASK Vorwärts Berlin) - 6 goals

  • 1967/68: Eusébio (Benfica Lisbon) - 6 goals

  • 1968/69: Denis Law (Manchester United) - 9 goals

  • 1969/70: Mick Jones (Leeds United) - 8 goals

  • 1970/71: Antonis Antoniadis (Panathinaikos Athens) - 10 goals

  • 1971/72: Johan Cruyff (Ajax Amsterdam) - 5 goals

  • 1972/73: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern Munich) - 11 goals

  • 1973/74: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern Munich) - 8 goals

  • 1974/75: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern Munich) - 5 goals

  • 1975/76: Jupp Heynckes (Borussia M'gladbach) - 6 goals

  • 1976/77: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern München) - 5 goals

  • 1977/78: Allan Simonsen (Borussia M'gladbach) - 5 goals

  • 1978/79: Claudio Sulser (Grasshopper Club Zurich) - 11 goals

  • 1979/80: Søren Lerby (Ajax Amsterdam) - 10 goals

  • 1980/81: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (FC Bayern Munich) - 6 goals

  • 1981/82: Dieter Hoeneß (FC Bayern Munich) - 7 goals

  • 1982/83: Paolo Rossi (Juventus Turin) - 6 goals

  • 1983/84: Wiktar Sokal (FK Dinamo Minsk) - 6 goals

  • 1984/85: Michel Platini (Juventus Turin) - 7 goals

  • 1985/86: Torbjörn Nilsson (IFK Göteborg) - 6

  • 1986/87: Borislav Cvetković (FK Roter Stern Belgrade) - 7

  • 1987/88: Gheorghe Hagi (Steaua Bucharest) - 4

  • 1988/89: Marco van Basten (AC Milan) - 9

  • 1989/90: Romário (PSV Eindhoven) - 7

  • 1990/91: Jean-Pierre Papin (Olympique Marseille) - 6

  • 1991/92: Sergej Juran (Benfica Lisbon) - 7

  • 1998/99: Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kiev) - 8

  • 1999/00: Raúl (Real Madrid) - 10

  • 2000/01: Raúl (Real Madrid) - 7

  • 2001/02: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) - 10

  • 2002/03: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) - 12

  • 2003/04: Fernando Morientes (AS Monaco) - 9

  • 2004/05: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) - 8

  • 2005/06: Andrij Shevchenko (AC Milan) - 9

  • 2006/07: Kaká (AC Milan) - 10

  • 2007/08: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) - 8

  • 2008/09: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) - 9

  • 2009/10: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) - 8

  • 2010/11: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) - 12

  • 2011/12: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) - 14

  • 2012/13: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 12

  • 2013/14: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 17

  • 2014/15: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 10

  • 2015/16: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 16

  • 2016/17: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 12

  • 2017/18: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 15

  • 2018/19: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) - 12

  • 2019/20: Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich) - 15

  • 2020/21: Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) - 10

  • 2021/22: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) - 15

Champions League records

  • Most goals scored in a season: Cristiano Ronaldo - 7

  • Most goals in a season: Cristiano Ronaldo - 17 (2013/14)

  • Most goals in group stage: Lionel Messi - 78

  • Most goals in group stage in a season: Cristiano Ronaldo - 11 (2015/16)

  • At least one goal in every group stage match in a season: Cristiano Ronaldo (2017/18), Sébastien Haller (2021/22)

  • Most goals in knockout stage: Cristiano Ronaldo - 67

  • Most goals in knockout phase in a season: 10 - Cristiano Ronaldo (2016/17), Karim Benzema (2021/22)

  • Most goals in a match: Lionel Messi, Luiz Adriano, Erling Haaland - 5

  • Most triples: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo - 8

  • Most free-kick goals: Cristiano Ronaldo - 12

  • Best goal rate: Gerd Müller - 0.97

  • Fastest goal: Roy Makaay - 10.12 seconds

  • Fastest hat-trick: Mohamed Salah - 6:12 minutes

  • Youngest player with 50 wins: Thomas Müller

  • Youngest player with 30 appearances: Cesc Fàbregas (20 years, 207 days)

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