Which players have scored the most Champions League goals in the history of the competition? Here, we look over the top-scoring players in UCL history.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 140 Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in the UEFA Champions League with 140 goals. With the Portuguese now playing at Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, it’s unlikely that he’ll add to this tally, which he accumulated over spells at Manchester United (21), Real Madrid (105) and Juventus (14).
Ronaldo holds the record for most goals in a single Champions League season, with his 17 goals for Real Madrid in 2013-14, as they won the UCL trophy with a win over Atlético Madrid in the final that campaign, while he followed that up with 16 goals two years later in 2015-16.
The Portuguese legend has won the competition top scorer award on seven different occasions, which is a record across both the European Cup and Champions League eras.
He scored in a record 93 different UCL matches – 51% of his appearances in the competition, while eight of those saw him score a hat-trick, which is a record he shares with Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo found the net against 38 different opponents in his Champions League career, with his 10 goals versus Juventus the most by any single player against an opponent in the history of the competition.
Lionel Messi: 129 Goals
Lionel Messi is the second highest scorer in UEFA Champions League history with 129 goals. He does, however, hold the record of scoring the most goals for a single club in UCL history, with 120 of his 129 goals coming at Barcelona. He added nine more after moving to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever get a chance to add to his 129 goal-tally following his move to MLS club Inter Miami.
Messi’s record of scoring against 40 different opponents in the UEFA Champions League is a record, ahead of Ronaldo’s tally of 38. Nine of those goals came against Arsenal (7%), his favourite opponent in UCL history.
Overall, 2022 World Cup winner Messi has scored in 18 different seasons of UCL action, netting in every campaign since 2005-06 after failing to score in his only appearance for Barcelona in his debut season of 2004-05. He shares this record with Karim Benzema, but the French striker has managed to score in all 18 of the UCL seasons that he’s played in since 2005-06.
He may share the UCL record for the most hat-tricks in the competition with Cristiano Ronaldo (eight), but he once did something the Portuguese never managed: score five goals in a single Champions League match. He managed this in Barcelona’s 7-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012 as part of his record-breaking 2011-12 season in which he scored 73 goals in 60 competitive club appearances.
Robert Lewandowski: 92 Goals
Robert Lewandowski is edging towards the century of UEFA Champions League goals, but with the Barcelona striker still eight goals away and now 35 years of age, he may run out of time.
He tried his best in 2022-23, with five goals in five appearances for Barcelona, but their group-stage elimination sent them into the UEFA Europa League so Lewandowski had a bigger gap between UCL games than he’s used to.
Of his 92 UCL goals, 69 came at Bayern Munich after he arrived from Borussia Dortmund. He holds the Bayern record for the most goals in Europe, ahead of Gerd Müller (65). He also holds the Bundesliga club’s record for most goals in a single season within the competition, with his 15-goal effort in 2019-20 on the way to Bayern winning the competition. In doing so, he became the first Polish player to finish as the top scorer in a single season of UCL/European Cup action.
Karim Benzema: 90 Goals
With his recent transfer to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia, Karim Benzema might be 90 and out.
Benzema has scored in the most UCL seasons without having failed to find the net in one, scoring in all 18 seasons of the competition since 2005-06 at Lyon.
The French striker won the Champions League top scorer award for the first time ever in 2021-22, with his 15 goals helping Real Madrid to the title, although he failed to score in the final win over Liverpool in Paris.
His 78 goals for Real Madrid in the competition are only behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s 105.
Raúl: 71 Goals
Former Spanish international Raúl is Real Madrid’s third highest scoring player in UEFA Champions League history (66), while his overall tally of 71 is the fifth most of all players in the competition.
Raúl was the top scoring player in the competition until November 2014, when he was eventually overtaken by Messi and Ronaldo, while the Real Madrid great was the first player to reach 50 goals in the competition, in September 2005. In fact, he was the first Real player to reach 50 goals in Europe after Alfredo Di Stéfano had previously scored 49 times in European competition for the Spanish side.
His final season in the competition came at German side FC Schalke 04 in 2010-11, when he scored five times as a 33-year-old. This took his overall tally to 71 in the competition, which is more than double the next best by a Spanish player in the competition: Fernando Morientes’ 33 goals.
Other Players with 50+ UCL Goals
Ruud van Nistelrooy: 56 Goals
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals overall in the UEFA Champions League, but that tally could have been more had he played more UCL action earlier in his career. He made just 11 appearances at PSV before his 25th birthday and debut for Manchester United in the competition.
No player reached 50 UEFA Champions League goals quicker than Van Nistelrooy (62 appearances) but he was 31 years old when he broke that mark.
He scored 35 goals in the Champions League for Manchester United – a club record, ahead of Wayne Rooney (30) and Ryan Giggs (28).
Van Nistelrooy is the top scoring player to have never won the UEFA Champions League, despite playing 11 seasons in the competition and playing for clubs that have won the trophy a combined 10 times.
Thomas Müller: 53 Goals
Thomas Müller just played his 15th Champions League season as a Bayern Munich player, scoring in 14 of these (only failing in 2018-19).
Since his competition debut in 2008-09, he’s scored 53 goals and has 23 assists. His goal tally is more than double that of any other German player in the competition: Mario Gomez (26).
He’s won the Champions League on two occasions with Bayern Munich, in both 2012-13 and 2019-20.
Thierry Henry: 50 Goals
Thierry Henry scored 50 goals in the UEFA Champions League across three clubs: Arsenal (35), Barcelona (eight) and Monaco (seven).
He began life as a UCL player in style, with six goals across his first five appearances at Monaco as a 20-year-old, before moving to Arsenal in 1999-00. His 35 goals at the Gunners make him their highest scoring player in Champions League/European Cup history.
Will Haaland and Mbappé Break the UCL Goal Record?
With all of the players to have scored 50-plus UEFA Champions League goals either retired or in the twilight years of their career, the focus is now on which players could eventually go on and break the UCL scoring records in years to come.
Kylian Mbappé looks the solid bet to reach 50 goals in the competition next, with the PSG and France forward on 43 UCL goals after netting against Newcastle. Former teammate Neymar (43) and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (44) may be ahead of him in the all-time competition goal chart as it stands, but the speed at which Mbappé is rising up the ranking should worry Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the standings.
Mbappé scored seven goals in eight Champions League appearances for PSG in 2022-23 before their last 16 elimination to Bayern Munich. He reached 40 goals in the competition in 59 games – two fewer than it took Messi and Robert Lewandowski (61) and 23 games quicker than Ronaldo (82). He is also the youngest of all 17 players to have reached 40 goals in the competition (23 years, 316 days) – breaking Messi’s previous record of doing so at 24 years and 130 days old.
The French star will be looking over his shoulder at Manchester City’s goalscoring phenomenon Erling Haaland, however.
Haaland has now scored a ridiculous 40 goals in 35 Champions League after scoring against RB Leipzig (again), and he’s still only 23 years old. To put that into context, the previous record for most goals by a player in their opening 35 UCL appearances was held by Van Nistelrooy, who’d netted 30 goals at the same point of his UCL career as Haaland is now – 10 fewer than the current Man City striker has managed.
He hit 40 UCL goals at an age (23 years, 130 days) that was 187 days younger than Mbappé did and it took him fewer matches compared to Frenchman (59) and Lionel Messi (61).
Haaland also became just one of three players to score five goals in a single Champions League match in Man City’s last-16 win over RB Leipzig in March 2022.