Five amazing players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic that never won the Champions League

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will no longer be gracing stadiums across Europe from next season onwards, with the Swedish icon having announced his retirement from professional football after playing his final game for AC Milan over the weekend. The 41-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation but did not manage to win the Champions League over the course of his career, although he is far from the only legendary figure to have missed out on securing the biggest prize in club football.

Express Sport takes a look at some of the greatest players to have never lifted the iconic Champions League trophy, with Ibrahimovic in good company as the newest retired member of the club...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic's goal record in the professional game is certainly a formidable one, with the towering Swede having scored 496 times in 827 total appearances at club level since making his debut for Malmo back in 2001. He has also won numerous league titles in France, Spain and Italy alongside a Europa League triumph with Manchester United in 2017 but was unable to add any Champions League titles to his impressive record of achievement.

The departing AC Milan forward was at Inter when Barcelona tasted European glory in 2009 before moving to the Nou Camp when Inter won the competition the following season. Meanwhile, his final chance to win the Champions League went up in smoke earlier this year when AC Milan were knocked out by their city rivals in the semi-finals, although he would have still been denied a winners' medal after being left out of their squad for the knockout stages of the tournament.

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Ronaldo may have arguably been remembered as the most complete striker in the history of the game if injuries had not hampered his career in the way that they did. He still managed to have a tremendous career with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter but never got the opportunity to lift the Champions League trophy in spite of his best efforts.

The Brazilian icon did not even play in any Champions League finals during his career and joined Real Madrid the season after they clinched European football's greatest prize back in 2002. He did manage to win the World Cup and several other major trophies at club level, though, and it would be difficult to argue against Ronaldo being the greatest player to have never won the Champions League before hanging up his boots.

Gianluigi Buffon

Buffon has come agonisingly close to European glory on no less than three occasions with Juventus, although they lost every single one of their final appearances with the veteran goalkeeper between the sticks. The Italian giants were beaten by Serie A rivals AC Milan in 2003 and again by Barcelona in 2015, while another loss followed two years later at the hands of Real Madrid.

He went on to join Paris Saint-Germain for one season in 2018, during which they were eliminated in the first knockout round, before returning to Juventus for a period of two years and once again failing to win the Champions League with the Old Lady. Buffon now plays for Parma, the club at which he started his career and rejoined in 2021, and is unlikely to earn another opportunity to get his hands on the trophy at the ripe old age of 45.

Gabriel Batistuta

Bastituta was another player to have gained more admiration for his exploits at international level rather than for his club, with the legendary striker becoming Argentina's top scorer in the 1990s before his record was surpassed by Lionel Messi in 2016. He managed to score 58 goals in 78 matches for the Albiceleste and won the Copa America on two occasions, while he also lifted the Confederations Cup with his country in 1992.

He went on to clinch the Serie A title in 2001 while playing for Roma after a lengthy and memorable spell at Fiorentina but was evaded by Champions League glory over the course of his career before retiring in 2005. Batistuta undoubtedly deserved to win far more silverware as a result of his talent and proficiency in front of goal, although spending much of his career at Fiorentina when they were not challenging for domestic or European titles ultimately hampered his chances of winning any Champions League titles.

Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp is widely recognised by Arsenal fans as one of their greatest ever players and won three Premier League titles during his time in north London, while he also managed to lift the FA Cup on four separate occasions. He was also a prolific operator for the Netherlands and scored one of the most iconic goals in recent memory when he struck a dramatic late winner against Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals in 1998.

He also tasted success in the Eredivisie with Ajax, claiming the title once alongside two Dutch Cups, and did win some European silverware in the form of a UEFA Cup and a Cup Winners' Cup. However, the big one evaded Bergkamp right up until the last game of his career, when he was an unused substitute for runners-up Arsenal against Barcelona in the Champions League final 18 years ago.

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