Italy’s Best Champions League Stars

Date: 23rd April 2024 at 11:55am
Written by:

The UEFA Champions League is one of the greatest club soccer competitions on Earth. Thirty-two clubs of the best clubs in Europe — although UEFA have announced some changes to the competition from next season —compete in a thrilling knockout tournament to lift the Champions League trophy.

The current holders of the title are English Premier League giants Manchester City, who beat Inter Milan 1-0 in 2023 to win their first Champions League trophy. Spanish La Liga heavyweights Real Madrid are the team to have the most title wins (14), followed by Italy’s own European club competition veterans AC Milan (7) and English Premier League aces Liverpool (6). If you’re into Champions League betting, you’ll be interested to know that some of these clubs are still in the competition.

As you can see above, Italian clubs are no stranger to the Champions League. Below are some of the greatest Italian players ever to grace the club competition.

Filippo Inzaghi

Filippo “Pippo” Inzaghi made 85 appearances, including the qualifiers, and was a prolific goal scorer. He scored several times for Juventus during the competition and also helped them reach a Champions League final. At the peak of his career, he joined AC Milan, which was where he’d finally taste glory in the competition. Ironically that first taste would come against his former club. AC Milan would beat Juventus in the 2002/03 Champions League final on penalties. In the 2007 final, in Athens, he’d taste victory again by scoring both goals in the club’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool.

Simone Inzaghi

Simeone Inzaghi, the younger brother of “Pippo,” manages Inter Milan and has enjoyed much success in managerial roles. His playing days with Lazio were the only time the club qualified for the Champions League, which they did in the 1999/2000 season, and under him as a manager they qualified again in 2020/21 season. Inzaghi, who has finally managed to come out of his brother’s shadow, is also one of the only Italian players to have scored four goals in a Champions League game. He took Inter Milan to the Champions League final in 2023.

Paolo Maldini

When it comes to defensive players, one man rises head and shoulders above the rest: Paolo Maldini. This defensive titan served AC Milan loyally for 25 seasons and put in 145 appearances, including qualifiers, for his side between the European Cup and the Champions League. Before the introduction of the Champions League in 1992, Maldini had already won the tournament twice (1989 and 1990) back when it was the European Cup. He’d win it three more fives, taking his tournament wins up to five. Officially, Maldini has played 902 matches in his career. He’s considered one of the greatest defenders to have ever slipped on a pair of football boots.

Alessandro Del Piero

Striker Alessandro del Piero began his career at Padova, but experienced Champions League glory with Juventus when the side defeated Ajax in the 1995/96 season’s final tournament. Including in the qualifiers, he scored 44 goals for the Turin side and made 92 appearances. A penalty shootout decided the matter after the sides remained drawn at 1-1. Juventus kept their heads to beat the Dutch team 4-2. Del Piero was one of the standout players of the tournament and, like Maldini, was also very loyal to his club.

Gianluigi Buffon

You’d be forgiven if you described Gianluigi Buffon as the face of Italian goalkeeping. The former Parma, Juventus, Paris St German and Italian national squad keeper has made 132 appearances, including qualifying, in the competition. Buffon made his debut with Parma in 1995, but it was with Juventus that he’d get to compete for Champions League glory, which he did in the 2015 and 2017 finals but wasn’t fortunate enough to be on the winning side. The Tuscan retired from football at the age of 45. Like Maldini, he was a stalwart for his team in the Serie A and holds the record for the most appearances (657) in the league, previously held by Maldini.

Andrea Pirlo

Many might remember Andrea Pirlo for this deft little chip in a penalty shootout against England in the Euro 2012 finals, but the ultra-cool midfielder also made 115 appearances during his career in the championship, including qualifiers. Pirlo served AC Milan for 10 seasons and won the Champions League twice with them in that time. He joined Juventus in 2011 and, though some doubted him as a contender for any more championships, he and the side made it to the 2015 final. He is now the manager of Sampdoria.

Italy has produced some marvelous players who have really thrived in European club competition. Other notable players include Alessandro Nesta, Alessandro Costacurta and Gennaro Gattusso.


Comments are closed.