Once known as the European Championship, UEFA Champions League still continues to be the elite footballing contest in Europe. A league where champions of Europe meet to sort it out amongst themselves that who is the king of the continent, players stake their lives, reform their dreams and is willing to make any sacrifice to etch their names on the prestigious pages of history.
Right since the tournament was rechristened as UEFA Champions League, it didn’t only enhance the glam environing the fray but the financial spectrum of the tournament shot through the sky. Emulating growth in every aspect, the players started honing themselves into a better version of athletes and contested in the pursuit of European glory.
A few players were fortunate enough to make their presence felt in the fray for a solitary time while others were regular monikers to have graced Europe’s best. Out of all of them, a few have even gone on to win the trophy multiple times and on rare occasions with multiple sides. We will look at five popular footballers who won the prestigious Champions League for multiple times with different clubs.
5. Didier Deschamps – 1993 Marseille and 1996 Juventus
The man who gave two World Cups to France, one as a player and the other as a manager is hailed as one of the most elite footballers of his time.
Deschamps played a pivotal role in teaming up with Marcel Desailly in 1993 and with Paulo Sousa in 1996 to notch up the prestigious European championship. Known for his commanding presence in the midfield that saw him string several assists for his teammates, Deschamps participated in four Champions League finals.
Winning the trophy with Marseille in 1993 and with Juventus in 1996, he was defeated in 2001 final in which he played for Valencia.
In 1993 final, a spirited showdown from an unexpected Marseille sank Milan as Boli struck the solitary goal in the match. The 1996 final went down the wire as a tie-breaker had to be invoked after 120 minutes of impasse to decide the winner.
He is currently the boss of the French national squad and was the mastermind in bringing together several legends of the sport to win the World Cup for his nation. He also played the most significant role alongside Zidane, in the 1998 World Cup that left Brazil hamstrung in the biggest stages of all.
4. Clarence Seedorf – Ajax 1995, Real Madrid 1998, AC Milan 2003 and 2007
A glittering midfielder who played a crucial role in honing an exciting Ajax side that housed the stars of the future under the chaperonage of Louis Van Gaal, Seedorf has spent his career in illustrious clubs.
He first kissed the European crown in 1995 with Ajax when Patrick Kluivert scored a late goal to send the Dutch side into exhilarations. In 1998 he won it with the Los Merengues as Mijatovic scored in the 66th minute to outclass Juventus.
In 2003, it was a dramatic finale that went down the wire as it was Juventus against Milan. In the tie-breaker, Seedorf missed his designated spot-kick followed by another miss from Kaladze. It was Shevchenko’s penalty that won them the thrilling tie-breaker.
A double whammy from Inzaghi sealed 2007 final for Milan in which Seedorf played a pivotal role in the midfield. He was also a part of the 2005 UCL final that saw a theatrical turnaround from Liverpool to win the battle on tie-breaker.
A decorated figure in footballing history, Seedorf is labelled as one of the most fluid midfielders with an exquisite passing range that won him several plaudits.
3. Samuel Eto – Barcelona 2006 and 2009, Inter Milan 2010
Eto is hailed as one of the most stupendous Cameroonian footballers to have ever graced the game and he made his towering presence felt as he hammered an awful lot of goals for all the clubs that he was a part of.
In 2006 final, Barcelona suddenly found themselves behind as Campbell fired Arsenal into the lead on the 37th minute. However, it was Eto who restored parity with a fabulous strike on the 76th minute before Belletti sealed the deal with a calm finish, four minutes later.
In 2009, it was once again the Cameroonian talisman who opened the scoring for the Catalans against Manchester United which was followed by Messi to complete the rout, according him his second Champions’ League.
His third came in the very ensuing year as he switched his allegiance to the Italian stalwarts, Inter Milan.
A double-strike from Milito sank the high-soaring ship of Bayern to seal the third UCL title for Eto, thereby also attesting to the brilliance of this magician.
2. Xabi Alonso – Liverpool 2005, Real Madrid 2014
Alonso was the crux of Spain’s rise to glory in the world Stages alongside the likes of his Barcelona team-mates, Iniesta and Xavi. He also played a lead role in joining forces with Gerard Pique to help Liverpool win the Champions’ Trophy with a captivating display in a high-octane dramatic finale.
After Maldini and Crespo speared three goals in the first half to fire Milan into an unassailable lead, Gerard spearheaded their return to the match with a thunderous strike. What was started by Gerard was finished by Alonso as he restored parity to spark crazy scenes in Istanbul.
Eventually, with the 120-tormenting minutes of regulation football failing to produce a clear winner, it all came down to fate. Much to the fortunate smiles of Liverpool, Serginho and Pirlo missed their respective penalties to set up the winning platform for the Reds. Shevchenko smashed his penalty straight down the middle only to see an emphatic block from Dudek that settled the scores for European glory.
In another dramatic finale, Alonso managed to win his second European title as an extremely late equalizer from Ronaldo left the scores level. In the extra time, Bale, Marcelo and Ronaldo speared three goals to humiliate Atletico Madrid in a crushing display of power. Alonso won his second UCL title without even featuring in the finale.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United 2008, Real Madrid – 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018
The man with the five fingers and with five Champions League titles have now been hailed as a football god. Excelling with every passing day, Ronaldo’s Champions League records are beyond the enviable stage and has now entered into a bubble of being impregnable.
His first Champions Trophy triumph was in 2008 when Van der Saar, the Flying Dutchman thwarted Anelka’s penalty to secure an emphatic victory for United. It was Ronaldo who drew first blood for Manchester United. However, Chelsea’s current manager, Frank Lampard restored parity in the dying embers of the first half. Much to everyone’s astonishment, it was Ronaldo who missed his spot-kick in the tie-breaker, pushing United to the brink of defeat only for Terry to slip in the last penalty and bundle a haywire spot-kick to invoke sudden-death.
Ronaldo holds the record of being the highest goal-scorer in Champions League with 128 goals that underlines his immortal legacy in the stints with United, Real Madrid and currently with Juventus.
In a span of the four finals that he played for Madrid, he smashed four goals out of which the two dramatic late goals in the 2014 UCL final helped them to overcome an indomitable Atletico Madrid.
Other notable mentions that would feature in the span of this wondrous list are Van der Sar, Toni Kroos, Daniel Sturridge, Gerard Pique, Deco and Marcel Desailly who also went on to win the prestigious Champions League with different teams from different leagues.