European Cup: The Best Non-Winners

Last update: 2019/06/11

Looking back at some of the players who were in with a chance at winning the European Cup during their careers, but fell short of winning the trophy.


The Brazilian is probably the most famous player to not win the European Cup during his career even though he played for Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Barcelona during his career. He did however win the UEFA Cup with Inter in 1998, but joined Real the summer after they had won it in 2002.

Francesco Totti

Spending his twenty five year career at Roma, Totti was not part of a team that won the European Cup during his time. The club was only able to reach the quarter-finals a number of times.

Patrick Vieira

Two of Vieira's teams made it to the finals not long after he left; Arsenal in 2006 and Inter Milan in 2010. Vieira left Arsenal in 2005 after nine years with the club to join Juventus. He also played for three and a half seasons at Inter before leaving in January 2010 as the club reached and won the final that same season.

Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio spent a large proportion of his career at big clubs such as Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Inter Milan but was unable to win the European Cup. His move from Juventus to AC Milan at the end of the 1994-1995 season meant he missed out on a medal as Juventus won the trophy at the end of the 1995-1996 season.

Michael Ballack

Ballack has the honour of failing to win the European Cup twice with Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 and Chelsea in 2008. His four years with Bayern Munich also saw the club fail to win the trophy during this time.

Iván Zamorano

Zamorano played for both Real Madrid and Inter Milan during his career but missed out on the European Cup in 1997 when Real Madrid won it having moved to Inter Milan the previous summer. He did retire with a European trophy however having won the UEFA Cup in 1998 with Inter Milan.

Gabriel Batistuta

Batistuta can be considered one of the greatest Argentinian players however his nine years at Fiorentina and three with Roma and Inter Milan meant that he unfortunately never came close to winning the European Cup during his career.

Fabio Cannavaro

Fabio Cannavaro had an illustrious club career at clubs such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan though retired relatively light on club-level honours. He did however manage to win the UEFA Cup in the 1998-99 season with Parma.

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp missed out on the title in the early 1990s after leaving Ajax for Inter Milan not long before they won the European Cup. He was also an unused substitute in the final in which Arsenal lost to Barcelona in 2006.

Robert Pirès

Robert Pirès played in the Champions League final in 2006 for Arsenal against Barcelona, but ended up on the losing team. To make matters worse, he was substituted early in the game to allow for a substitute keeper after Jens Lehmann was sent off.

David Seaman

David Seaman played for a variety of clubs including Leeds United, Birmingham City and Queens Park Rangers through the eighties before moving to Arsenal. During the thirteen years he was at the club, there was little European Cup success. He did win a Cup Winners' Cup and come as runner-up in the UEFA Cup.

Zlatan Ibrahimović

Ibrahimović played for a number of big clubs including Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and Manchester United during his career, however a European Cup is missing from his list of titles. He was owned by Barcelona at the time of their 2011 win, however spent that season on loan with AC Milan.

Gaizka Mendieta

Gaizka Mendieta was one of the best players in the world for a time and a part of the Valencia team which made it to two European Cups finals in 2000 and 2001, but was on the losing side in both matches with losses to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Stints with Lazio and Barcelona were also unsuccessful.

Pavel Nedvěd

Pavel Nedvěd won a UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winner's Cup with Lazio before moving to Juventus in 2001 as a replacement for Zinedine Zidane. Unfortunately he was on the losing team in the 2003 European Cup final in a game which was lost on penalties.

Christian Vieri

Vieri played for a number of top European clubs during his career including Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Lazio, Monaco and Atletico Madrid though never came particularly close to winning the trophy. Vieri was particularly unfortunate to play for several clubs who lacked titles during his time with them.

Juan Sebastián Verón

Juan Sebastián Verón played for Lazio, Manchester United, and Chelsea between 1999 and 2007 but none of the clubs came close to winning the trophy during this period. He did however win the UEFA Cup with Parma in 1998.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Despite playing for both Manchester United and Real Madrid, Van Nistelrooy wasn't on a European Cup winning side. He did finish as top scorer in the Champions League however in three season: 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2004-05.

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique is one of a few players who played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but did not win the competition. He was part of the Barcelona side that won a UEFA Super Cup, and has won the competition as a manager in the 2014-15 season.

Hernán Crespo

Despite playing for a number of big clubs such as Lazio, Inter Milan, A.C. Milan, and Chelsea, Hernán Crespo didn't win the European Cup. He came closest while on loan at A.C. Milan in 2005 and scored in the final, but was ultimately on the losing team. Chelsea reached the final in 2008, but he was on a two-year loan with Inter Milan.

Lilian Thuram

Thuram had a good club career with Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona. Juventus were challengers for the European Cup during his stint though never won it. Leaving for Barcelona in 2006, he missed out as they had won the trophy the following season.

David Trezeguet

Trezeguet played alongside Thuram for both Monaco and Juventus, but was also unable to win the European Cup during his stint at Monaco between 1995 and 2000, and Juventus between 2000 and 2010.

Lothar Matthäus

Matthäus came close to winning the European Cup in the 1998-99 season but was part of the team that lost famously to Manchester United. He left Bayern Munich in 2000 for America, missing out on the trophy as the club went on to win it in the 2000-01 season.

Diego Maradona

Maradona played for three European clubs; Barcelona, Napoli, and Sevilla but did not win the European Cup during this spell. His time with Napoli however did result in him winning the UEFA Cup during the 1988-89 season.

Gianluigi Buffon

Gialuigi Buffon has had a long career spanning Parma, Juventus and Paris St Germain. His closest attempts to lifting the European Cup came in both 2003 and 2017 when he was on the losing side in the final with losses to both AC Milan and Real Madrid.


Romario spent much of his career in Brazil at various clubs, however stints at PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, and a year with Valencia saw him fail to win the cup. He was however part of the Barcelona team that reached the final in the 1993-94 season but famously lost 4-0 to AC Milan.

George Weah

Weah played for several clubs in Europe, but his most famous stint was with AC Milan. It was with Paris Saint-Germain were he had more success in the Champions League finishing top scorer in the 1994-95 season and reaching the semi-finals.