Champions League all-time appearances: Cristiano Ronaldo, Casillas, Messi, Xavi, Benzema
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
We salute the all-time leading UEFA Champions League appearance-makers – in total, for one club, and by round.
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Cristiano Ronaldo sits at the top of the list for all-time UEFA Champions League appearances.
Ronaldo made more than half of his all-time appearances (101) for Real Madrid, as well as 23 for Juventus and 59 for Manchester United across two spells at Old Trafford. The evergreen Portuguese international is also the competition's all-time leading goalscorer. So who else makes the list of players with most Champions League games?
Who has the most Champions League appearances?
Since the Champions League's inception in 1992, a select group of 47 players have amassed 100 or more appearances, with Real Madrid favourite Raúl González the first in February 2006. An even more elite selection of four stars have since passed the 150-mark: Xavi Hernández, Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas and front-runner Ronaldo.
Ronaldo's first game in the Champions League proper took place on 1 October 2003, the then 18-year-old earning a penalty in a 2-1 defeat at Stuttgart. He was a Real Madrid player when he reached his century 11 years later on the same night as Frank Lampard. In all, the Portuguese's 183 appearances have come across 19 seasons in the Champions League.
The fearsome foursome that lead the chart all made the majority of their Champions League appearances while at Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the Spanish giants' alumni dominate the list of the competition's leading appearance-makers. Only four of the top 20 did not represent one of the great rivals at some point: one-club men Ryan Giggs, Thomas Müller and Paul Scholes, plus goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon.
All-time Champions League appearances
183 Cristiano Ronaldo, POR (Manchester United 59, Real Madrid 101, Juventus 23)
177 Iker Casillas, ESP (Real Madrid 150, Porto 27)
163 Lionel Messi, ARG (Barcelona 149, Paris Saint-Germain 14)*
152 Karim Benzema, FRA (Lyon 19, Real Madrid 133)*
151 Xavi Hernández, ESP (Barcelona)
142 Raúl González, ESP (Real Madrid 130, Schalke 12)
142 Thomas Müller, GER (Bayern München)*
141 Ryan Giggs, WAL (Manchester United)
139 Toni Kroos, GER (Bayern München 41, Real Madrid 98)*
137 Sergio Ramos, ESP (Real Madrid 129, Paris Saint-Germain 8)*
131 Manuel Neuer, GER (Schalke 22, Bayern München 109)*
130 Andrés Iniesta, ESP (Barcelona)
129 Sergio Busquets, ESP (Barcelona)*
128 Gerard Piqué, ESP (Manchester United 4, Barcelona 124)*
125 Clarence Seedorf, NED (Ajax 11, Real Madrid 25, AC Milan 89)
124 Gianluigi Buffon, ITA (Parma 6, Juventus 113, Paris Saint-Germain 5)
124 Paul Scholes, ENG (Manchester United)
124 Zlatan Ibrahimović, SWE (Ajax 19, Juventus 19, Inter 22, Barcelona 10, AC Milan 20, Paris Saint-Germain 33, Manchester United 1)*
120 Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid 107, Fenerbahçe 13)
119 Xabi Alonso (Real Sociedad 8, Liverpool 39, Real Madrid 47, Bayern München 25)
Who has made most Champions League appearances for one club?
Xavi Hernández holds the record for most Champions League appearances with one club, playing 151 games in the competition for Barcelona between 1998 and 2015. The former Spain midfielder heads a list of 26 players who have made 100 or more Champions League appearances for one side.
That list is dominated by the Spanish giants, including eight Real Madrid players and Xavi among seven from Barcelona. Bayern have four in Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Oliver Kahn, while Manchester United trio Giggs, Scholes and Gary Neville also feature. John Terry and Lampard brought up centuries for Chelsea and the list is completed by Juventus (Gianluigi Buffon) and AC Milan (Paolo Maldini).
Only half of the list played all their Champions League games at one club, though, with the rest supplementing their tallies with spells elsewhere. The one-club men are Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés (all Barcelona), Giggs, Scholes, Neville (all Manchester United), Kahn and Müller (both Bayern), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maldini (AC Milan) and Terry (Chelsea).
151 Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
150 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
149 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
142 Thomas Müller (Bayern)*
141 Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
133 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)*
130 Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
130 Raúl González (Real Madrid)
129 Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)*
129 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
124 Gerard Piqué (Barcelona)*
124 Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
115 Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
113 Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
109 Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
109 Gary Neville (Manchester United)
109 John Terry (Chelsea)
109 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)*
109 Manuel Neuer (Bayern)*
107 Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid)
106 Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
105 Philipp Lahm (Bayern)
103 Oliver Kahn (Bayern)
102 Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
102 Marcelo (Real Madrid)
101 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Who has played the most Champions League finals?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Paolo Maldini hold the record for most final appearances in the UEFA Champions League era, making six apiece during their stellar careers.
One-club man Maldini had already lifted the European twice with AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 before the competition was rebranded in 1992/93. The defender was in the side that lost the inaugural final, and suffered further shock defeats in 1995 and 2005, but he also won in 1994 and captained the Rossoneri to titles in 2003 and 2007.
The following season Ronaldo triumphed in his first final, with Manchester United in Moscow, and though he lost with the English side three years later, a run of four titles in five seasons for Real Madrid made him the first player to lift the trophy five times. The Portugal forward has scored a record four final goals in the process.
Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modrić all played with Ronaldo during those four Real Madrid triumphs, and added another without him in 2022. The trio have therefore won five out of five finals.
6 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid)
6 Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
5 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
5 Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
5 Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
5 Patrice Evra (Monaco, Manchester United, Juventus)
5 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)
5 Clarence Seedorf (Ajax, Real Madrid, AC Milan)
5 Edwin van der Sar (Ajax, Manchester United)
Who has played the most Champions League semi-finals?
21 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid)
18 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
18 Toni Kroos (Bayern, Real Madrid)
17 Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern)
16 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)
16 Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
16 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
15 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
15 Thomas Müller (Bayern)
Who has played the most Champions League quarter-finals?
23 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
23 Thomas Müller (Bayern)
22 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
22 Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
22 Gerard Piqué (Manchester United, Barcelona)
21 Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
21 Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
21 Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
21 Manuel Neuer (Schalke, Bayern)
Who has made most appearances in Champions League round of 16?
36 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
36 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
28 Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid)
27 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Porto)
27 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Paris)
25 Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
25 Thomas Müller (Bayern)
Who has made most appearances in Champions League group stage?
115 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Porto)
98 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
96 Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
95 Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
92 Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
86 Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe)
86 Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Paris)*
84 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United)*
83 Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid)*
In all cases, clubs listed are only those for whom the player has appeared in the UEFA Champions League.