As the Champions League resumes tonight after a two-month layoff, Goal.com looks at the top 10 goalscorers in UEFA club history…
10) Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid) – 50 Goals
Argentine genius who led the Real Madrid of the 1950s to five consecutive European crowns. The star man of a team that also included the great Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento. Regarded by some as the greatest player of all time, better than Diego Maradona and Pele.
9) Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus) – 51 Goals
Still going reasonably strong at 35, Del Piero has been a European star for 16 years now. The free-kick expert’s best moment in Europe came in 1997/98 when on his way to becoming Champions League top-scorer he scored a hat-trick as Juve crushed Monaco 4-1 at home in their semi final first leg. Champion in 1996.
8) Eusebio (Benfica) – 54 Goals
Rated by many, including this writer, as the most complete striker in history. Eusebio really did have it all – explosive power, pace, great feet, a bullet header, and an unstoppable shot. The Portuguese was the star of the superb Benfica side that won consecutive European Cups in 1961 and 62.
7) Henrik Larsson (Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona, Manchester United, Helsingborgs) – 59 Goals
One of the most under-rated hitmen of his generation, Larsson proved that his prolific spell at Celtic was not because he was playing in a weak league when he went on to enjoy a productive two years at Barcelona in the twilight of his career. Larsson turned the game when coming on as a substitute in the 2006 final win over Arsenal.
6) Thierry Henry (Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona) – 59 Goals
Burst onto the scene as a youngster with Monaco, leading them to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 1998 before starring in Europe with Arsenal and Barcelona. At the peak of his career, the Frenchman was uncatchable when in full flight. He was a runner-up in the UEFA Cup and CL while with the Gunners, but finally lifted the latter last season at Barca.
5) Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV, Manchester United, Real Madrid) – 60 Goals
Quite possibly the best finisher of the last decade, when van Nistelrooy is presented with a chance it is very rare to see him miss. Strangely, despite all his goals, van Nistelrooy’s teams have never done too well in Europe and he has often been eliminated in the early knockout stages. Which makes his goal ratio even more impressive.
4) Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kiev, Milan, Chelsea) – 62 Goals
European Footballer of the Year in 2004, Shevchenko was a major protagonist in the best club team of the noughties Milan. He tucked away the winning penalty during 2003 final against Juventus and was the scourge of opposition throughout his first spell with the Rossoneri. In his prime, Sheva was an electric two-footed frontman with clinical finishing ability.
3) Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich) – 62 Goals
Undoubtedly the greatest penalty box striker of all time. The fact that Muller is so high up this list when he played in an era of far fewer European games is testament to his stunning goal record. Muller’s trademark was his turn-on-a-sixpence, and during his club career he won three European Cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
2) Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid) – 68 Goals
Is second to Inzaghi because, although he has scored the same number of goals, he has played many more games. Raul is to Real Madrid what the afforementioned Del Piero is toJuventus. Erupted as a prodigious teenager when he scored against Juve in 1995/96, Raul has gone on to become Madrid’s all-time top scorer winning three Champions Leagues in the process.
1) Pippo Inzaghi (Parma, Juventus, Milan) – 68 Goals
He may lack in the technical department, but there has not been a striker in history with better movement, reactions, anticipation and poachers intelligence than Superpippo. The World Cup winner has a knack for scoring decisive goals when they matter, including both in the 2-1 final win over Liverpool in 2007. Now 36, don’t be surprised if Inzaghi adds a few more goals to his all-time total before he hangs up his scoring boots.