The most revered cup competition in Europe, the UEFA Champions League, has the capability to turn stars into superstars, and superstars into legends. If one keeps turning up, year after year, and manages to put on a show for fans, the competition rewards them with immortality, a sense of unparalleled pride.
It is mighty difficult to achieve longevity in the competition of champions, to keep up with the current crop of up-and-coming superstars. In the list below, we will take a look at 10 players, with the most UCL appearances, that are going toe-to-toe with the young guns in this year’s competition. Here are the top 10 active players who have played the most UEFA Champions League matches in history.
#10 Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla) – 92 Games
With 92 matches played in the UEFA Champions League, Sevilla central midfielder Ivan Rakitic is the 10th name on the rankings. The Croatian midfielder has represented three teams in the competition so far, playing 12 times for Schalke, 60 games for Barcelona, and 20 matches for Sevilla.
Rakitic, who has scored 10 goals in the competition so far, reached the pinnacle of European football in the 2014-15 season. Rakitic was one of the goalscorers as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final.
#9 Angel Di Maria (Benfica) – 103 Games
Benfica ace Angel Di Maria has played 103 games in the UEFA Champions League so far to claim the ninth spot on the list. Di Maria, who has represented Real Madrid (39), Paris Saint-Germain (54), Juventus (3) and Benfica (7) in the competition, has 22 Champions League goals and 38 assists to his name.
Di Maria’s only UEFA Champions League success came with Real Madrid in the 2013-14 season. The Argentine was named the Man of The Match as Los Blancos beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the final.
#8 Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona) – 112 Games
One of the best strikers of the 21st century, Robert Lewandowski is the eighth name on the list. The Polish sharpshooter has played 112 games across Borussia Dortmund (28), Bayern Munich (78), and Barcelona (6), scoring a whopping 92 times. Lewandowski is the competition’s third-highest scorer of all time.
The 35-year-old striker has only won the competition once in his career, with it coming in the 2019-20 season. He scored his personal-best 15 goals that season to win the competition’s top-scorer award.
#7 Pepe (FC Porto) – 114 Games
At 40 years old, Pepe is the oldest player on this exclusive list. The evergreen center-back has played 114 games in the competition so far, scoring thrice and providing five assists. The majority of his UCL games have come for Real Madrid (71), followed by Porto (37) and Besiktas (6).
The Portugal icon is a three-time winner of the competition, with all of them coming during his time at Real Madrid. He won his first in 2014, the second in 2016, and the third one in 2017.
#6 David Alaba (Real Madrid) – 115 Games
Real Madrid center-back David Alaba has proven himself to be a UEFA Champions League veteran, having appeared 115 times already in the prestigious competition. The 31-year-old, who has scored six times and provided 17 assists in the competition, has played 91 games for Bayern and 24 for Madrid in the competition so far.
Alaba has won the competition an impressive three times. He bagged the Big Ears with the Bavarians in 2013 and 2020 before winning it again with his current employers in 2022.
#5 Luka Modric (Real Madrid) – 118 Games
The only Ballon d’Or winner on the list, Luka Modric has played 118 games in the UEFA Champions League so far. Eight of his matches have come for Tottenham Hotspur and the remaining 110 for Real Madrid.
The legendary Croatian midfielder, who has scored nine times and provided 17 assists, has won the competition a joint-record five times. He was one of the heroes of Real Madrid’s UCL triumph in 2014 and proved to be just as effective in their next four wins in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2022.
#4 Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) – 131 Games
Bayern Munich icon Manuel Neuer has played 131 UEFA Champions League games over the course of his legendary career. The German goalkeeper, who is recovering from a broken leg, has represented Schalke & Bayern in the competition so far, playing 22 games for the former and 109 for the latter. He kept 54 clean sheets and conceded just 119 times in 131 games.
Neuer’s heroics have helped Bayern to two UEFA Champions League triumphs. The first one came in the 2012-13 season and the latter in the 2019-20 campaign.
#3 Sergio Ramos (Sevilla) – 138 Games
Legendary Spanish defender Sergio Ramos claims the third spot on this list with a whopping 138 UEFA Champions League appearances. Ramos, 37, has represented three teams in the competition, playing 129 games with Real Madrid, 8 with Paris Saint-Germain, and 1 with Sevilla.
Ramos, who has scored 15 times and claimed nine assists in the competition, has won the tournament four times, all of them as a Real Madrid player. He helped the club to the trophy in 2014 before playing a crucial role in their three-peat between 2016 and 2018.
#2 Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) – 140 Games
Real Madrid legend Toni Kroos has played 140 times in the UEFA Champions League in his career, scoring 11 times and providing 29 assists between Los Blancos and Bayern Munich. He has played 42 games for Bayern and the remaining 98 for Los Blancos.
Kroos has won the competition a whopping five times, once with the Bavarians and four times with the All-Whites. His only triumph with the Germans came in the 2012-13 season while at Madrid he lifted the cup in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2022.
#1 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) – 143 Games
One of the best players in Bayern Munich’s decorated history, Thomas Muller tops the list, having appeared in 143 matches for the Bavarians in the UEFA Champions League. Muller, 34, has scored 53 times and claimed 32 assists thus far in the competition.
The Germany icon has won the competition twice over the course of his illustrious career. His first triumph came in the 2012-13 season, in which Bayern beat Chelsea in the final. Muller and Co. returned to the podium seven years later when the Germans got the better of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the final.