Xavi Hernández has become the first player to reach 150 UEFA Champions League appearances – and we may have to wait only a few hours for the second.
Article top media content
Xavi Hernández has become the first player to reach 150 UEFA Champions League appearances after featuring as a 75th-minute substitute for FC Barcelona against FC Bayern München in their semi-final second leg in Germany.
Xavi made his competition debut in tellingly auspicious fashion in September 1998. With 23 minutes remaining, the then 18-year-old entered the fray at Old Trafford with Barcelona – who had come from two down, his hero Paul Scholes among the home scorers – trailing Manchester United FC 3-2. Within a matter of seconds the visitors converted a spot kick to earn a draw. The scorer? Luis Enrique.
It was Luis Enrique, of course, who brought on the 35-year-old on Tuesday for outing No150. In between times, Xavi has become a fixture in the top European club competition – only in 2003/04 were we denied his presence. He has struck 11 goals, picked up just nine yellow cards (none in his last 56 games) and, most importantly of all, lifted the trophy three times: in 2006, 2011 and 2009, when he was man of the match in the final.
Xavi may not have to wait long for someone to join him on 150, with Iker Casillas set to attain the mark on Wednesday. But he will always be the first, just as Raúl González was to his century. The forward achieved the milestone in Real Madrid CF's 1-0 home defeat by Arsenal FC on 21 February 2006. There are now 25 centurions.
UEFA Champions League appearances (group stage to final) – top ten
150 Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona)*
149 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF)*
142 Raúl González (Real Madrid CF 130, FC Schalke 04 12)
141 Ryan Giggs (Manchester United FC)
125 Clarence Seedorf (AFC Ajax 11, Real Madrid CF 25, AC Milan 89)
124 Paul Scholes (Manchester United FC)
120 Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid CF 107, Fenerbahçe SK 13)
115 Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona)
114 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC 52, Real Madrid CF 62)*
112 Thierry Henry (AS Monaco FC 9, FC Barcelona 26, Arsenal FC 77)