In the latest round of Champions League football, Manchester City’s superstar striker Erling Haaland fired himself into the top 20 all-time goalscorers in the tournament (including its predecessor, the European Cup). Also, England star (and new Bayern Munich talisman) Harry Kane became only the third Englishman to score 25 Champions League goals (after Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling). But which players make up the top 10 all-time goalscorers in Europe’s elite club competition?
In this article, we’ll run through the top 10 goalscorers, covering both the Champions League and the European Cup (that began in the 1955/56 season). Then we’ll delve a little deeper into the top five and find out what other goalscoring records they set on Europe’s grandest stage.
All-time Top 10 Champions League/European Cup Goalscorers
|Cristiano Ronaldo||140||183||2003 to 2022||Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus|
|Lionel Messi||129||163||2003 to 2023||Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain|
|Robert Lewandowski||92||114||2011 to present||Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona|
|Karim Benzema||90||152||2005 to 2023||Lyon, Real Madrid|
|Raúl||71||142||1995 to 2011||Real Madrid, Schalke|
|Ruud van Nistelrooy||56||73||1998 to 2009||PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid|
|Thomas Müller||53||145||2009 to present||Bayern Munich|
|Thierry Henry||50||112||1997 to 2012||Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona|
|Alfredo Di Stéfano||49||58||1955 to 1964||Real Madrid|
|Andriy Shevchenko||48||100||1994 to 2012||Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea|
|Zlatan Ibrahimović||48||124||2001 to 2021||Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United|
Note that Andriy Shevchenko and Zlatan Ibrahimović are in joint-10th position in the all-time list.
There are no real surprises to see two of football’s all-time greats at the top of the list, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi being the only two players to have netted more than 100 goals in the Champions League. They have very similar goals-to-game ratios (0.77 for Ronaldo and 0.79 for Messi), but both are behind Robert Lewandowski (0.81 at the time of writing) and the Real Madrid legend, Alfredo Di Stefano (0.84).
Only one player in the top 20 can better Di Stefano’s ratio… you’ve guessed it, Man City’s Erling Haaland. At the time of writing, the Norwegian ace has an astounding goals-to-game ratio of 1.15, and if he keeps going like that it won’t be long before he ascends into the top 10! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. There’s a long way to go for Haaland to get near the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, so let’s take a closer look at their Champions League goal-getting exploits, along with the other three players in the top five.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 140 Goals in 183 Games (0.77 Goals Per Game)
Arguably the greatest player in the history of the game (although the man directly below him in the table might have something to say about that), Cristiano Ronaldo was a goal machine in the Champions League. Banging in plenty of (often crucial) goals for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, CR7 also tops the all-time list for the number of Champions League appearances.
The Portuguese legend was the top scorer in the Champions League for six seasons in a row (from 2012/13 to 2017/18) and also the top scorer earlier on in his career (2007/08). He holds the top two positions for the most Champions League goals in a season (17 in 2013/14 and 16 in 2015/16) and is also joint third, just for good measure (with 15 goals in 2017/18). He’s the only player to score three hat-tricks in the competition in a single season (2015/16) and shares the record for the total number of Champions League hat-tricks with Messi (with eight apiece). He holds numerous other records in the competition too, but let’s leave it there or it might just go to this head!
Lionel Messi – 129 Goals in 163 Games (0.79 Goals Per Game)
Lionel Messi certainly has valid claims as being the best footballer ever, though most objective pundits would put him just behind Ronaldo. Certainly, when it comes to Champions League goalscoring exploits, the Argentine great has to play second fiddle to his rival.
Having said that, Messi does hold a good number of Champions League records. As well as the aforementioned joint record for the most hat-tricks, Messi has scored more home goals in the tournament than any other player (78) and the most for any single club (120 for Barca). He’s also scored more than anyone else in the Group Stage (80) and the Round of 16 (29), and he’s one of just three players to have scored five goals in a Champions League match (excluding preliminary rounds), although 10 players achieved that feat in the pre-Champions League-era European Cup.
Robert Lewandowski – 92 Goals in 113 Games (0.81 Goals Per Game)
Robert Lewandowski is one of only two players in the current top 10 who is still playing in Europe (along with Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller), but we can’t realistically see him challenging the top two. He does have a reasonable chance of making it to 100 Champions League goals, although he’s 35 now so he might not have many more seasons left to achieve that milestone.
Lewandowski scored the majority of his CL goals for Bayern (69 in 78 games), including the 15 he scored in the tournament in the 2019/20 season (the joint-third-best total in a single season). He holds the record for the fastest hat-trick in a CL game (from the start of the match) and he’s the only player to have scored hat-trick for three different sides in the competition.
Karim Benzema – 90 Goals in 152 Games (0.59 Goals Per Game)
Like Ronaldo, Karim Benzema has left Europe for the green grass of Saudi Arabia! Before that, though, he was a regular scorer in the Champions League, first for Lyon (for whom he scored 12 goals in 19 games) and then, more famously, Real Madrid (78 goals in 133 games). He’s the oldest player to have scored a hat-trick in the tournament, getting a triple against Chelsea in 2022 at the age of 34 years and 108 days. He is also one of just two players (along with Ronaldo) to have scored 10 goals in the knockout phase of the competition in a single season (in 2021/22), the season in which he notched a total of 15, the joint-third-highest number in a single campaign.
Raúl – 71 Goals in 142 Games (0.5 Goals Per Game)
Spanish great Raúl completes our top five, and though he’s long since retired, he made his mark on the competition early in his career and still holds the record as the youngest player to have scored a Champions League hat-trick (aged just 18 years and 114 days). He was also the first player to make it to 100 Champions League appearances, all of those having been while playing for Real Madrid (though he later appeared – and scored – for Schalke in the tournament).