Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two of the greatest players of recent years, have won the Champions League four and five times, respectively, demonstrating how skill often correlates with success in the game. Despite this, the prestigious trophy has eluded a lot of extremely skilled athletes over the years. Those players failed for a variety of reasons, some of which were more dramatic than others. In light of this, we've compiled a list of the top players who have never won the Champions League.
1. Michael Owen
Given how his career fizzled out at Newcastle, Manchester United, and Stoke, it's easy to forget how magnificent Owen was when he was at the peak of his powers - which came considerably sooner than most footballers. Between the ages of 18 and 25, the former England international was at his most lethal, earning the Ballon d'Or in 2001 after helping Liverpool win the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, and League Cup treble. Within that time, however, the Reds were unable to win the Champions League, and Owen was also unable to win on the biggest platform of all during a single season at Real Madrid. He was named to United's matchday squad for the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona, much to the chagrin of Dimitar Berbatov, who was left out, however he was an unused replacement in the 3-1 defeat.
2. Alexis Sanchez
When Alexis Sanchez was on form, he was a force to be reckoned with. He used to play for Manchester United when he was awful. It's easy to forget how good Sanchez was as a player, and he still has time to prove many people wrong. He's received nine big awards over his career, but nothing in Europe. Barcelona won the Champions League twice, in 2011 and 2015. Alexis Sanchez's time at the Nou Camp spanned the years in between. He has failed to win a knockout tie at Arsenal and United.
3. Sol Campbell
Campbell had the misfortune of working with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry at the same time. If his career had not coincided with those two, he would undoubtedly have amassed far more than 73 caps. The centre-back perhaps deserved more than two Premier League crowns and a Champions League runners-up medal at club level. Campbell came closest to winning a European trophy in 2006, when he gave 10-man Arsenal the lead in the final against Barcelona. However, the Catalans' superior skill and man advantage - Jens Lehmann was sent off in the 18th minute - eventually paid off, and the former Tottenham goalkeeper went to Portsmouth a few weeks later.
4. Robin Van Persie
In 2012, Robin van Persie famously transferred from Arsenal to Manchester United in order to win the Premier League title. He should have made a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona if he wanted to win the European Cup. He came the closest to winning it as an unused substitute in 2006, when Arsenal lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the final. In his career, he did win a European trophy, the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord in 2002.
5. Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany, after everything he's done for Manchester City, is unquestionably deserving of a statue outside the Etihad Stadium. He could even have one with his 12 titles at his feet, but nothing with the UEFA emblem on it. Kompany is perhaps the best defender to ever play in the Premier League era in England. With City, he won four Premier League titles, and his important goal against Leicester in May 2019 will live on forever. Kompany came the closest to winning the Champions League in 2016, when City advanced to the semi-finals. They lost the second leg 1-0 in Madrid after a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium. Kompany started the game but left after only 10 minutes due to injury.
6. George Weah
Weah, who scored seven goals in the 1994/95 Champions League, was unable to prevent his Paris Saint-Germain team from losing the semi-final 3-0 on aggregate to AC Milan. The Liberian was snapped up by the Rossoneri that summer after the Rossoneri were evidently impressed with what they saw. Unfortunately for Weah, his tenure in Milan fell between their two major periods of European dominance: after winning the title in 1989, 1990, and 1994, and then again in 2003 and 2007, the seven-time champions missed out on the continental crown during Weah's five years at San Siro.
7. Miroslav Klose
Miroslav Klose came close in the Champions League, but it was not to be. With Bayern Munich, he reached the 2010 Champions League final, however he did not make Louis Van Gaal's starting XI. When Bayern Munich was losing 1-0 to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, he came on as a 63rd-minute substitute. Inter's second was scored seven minutes later by Gabriel Milito, and the game was over. Klose, on the other hand, went on to win the World Cup in 2014, probably football's most prestigious award.
8. Giorgio Chiellini
How is it possible to play for Juventus for 15 years and never win a European title? Inquire of Giorgio Chiellini. He is a Juventus and Italy icon who is regarded as one of the top centre-backs in the game all around the world. He's won eight Serie A championships, but you shouldn't question him about Europe. He's made it to two finals, and he probably doesn't want to. Barcelona defeated Juventus 3-1 in the 2015 Champions League final in Berlin, however Chiellini was forced to miss the game due to a calf injury he sustained three days prior to the game. Two years later, he was in the starting lineup for Juventus in the Champions League final in Cardiff, when they were defeated 4-1 by Real Madrid.
9. Gianluigi Buffon
In 2015 and 2017, Buffon played in the final with Juventus, but the Italians lost to Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.
10. Fabio Cannavaro
The Italian raising the 2006 World Cup aloft is Fabio Cannavaro's iconic picture. Cannavaro, like all of the players on this list before him, won the FIFA World Cup but fell short of winning the Champions League. That's despite Cannavaro having played for Inter Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid, three European titans that all fell short while he was there. In 2002/03, he helped Inter reach the Champions League semi-finals, but he never advanced further.
11. Michael Ballack
The 2001/02 season was both a challenging year and a watershed moment in Michael Ballack's career. He was a key member of Bayer Leverkusen's second-place finish in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League, as well as Germany's loss in the World Cup final against Brazil. All of those near-misses must have been excruciating, but they were enough to land Ballack a transfer to Bayern Munich. He won three league and cup doubles there. Chelsea eventually came knocking, and he lost yet another Champions League final with the west London team in 2007/08.
He won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and played for PSV, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid, and Milan, but none of his club teams ever won the prestigious title.
13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
As a striker, he is as well-known as Messi, Ronaldo, and Rooney, with the exception that he is the only one of the four to have never won the Champions League.
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