The UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle of club football and only the very special shine on such stage in the infancy of their career.
Jude Bellingham continues to star in the colours of Real Madrid and the midfielder was on target once again during the club’s win at Napoli this week.
Bellingham has made a breathtaking start to his career in Spain, having emerged as one of Europe’s most talented youngsters at Borussia Dortmund before his summer move to Madrid.
Bellingham’s latest goal was already his eighth in the Champions League, with the England international not set to turn 21 until next summer. We’ve ranked the highest scoring u21 players in UCL history.
Ranking the top u21 goalscorers in Champions League history:
Obafemi Martins (8)
Obafemi Martins made an early impact in Europe during his time at Inter Milan, where the forward fired in eight Champions League goals before his 21st birthday.
Martins formed part of the Inter side that reached the semi-finals in 2002/03, while he scored five Champions League goals – part of 22 in all competitions – for the Italian side in 2004/05.
⚽ | BOMBER
Check out all of the goals from “Oba Oba” Martins in the latest episode of our Bomber series below 👇 pic.twitter.com/PfM8cUxHJ2
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 8, 2020
Martins moved on to sign for Newcastle in 2006 and scored 17 goals during his first season in English football, but failed to live up to the early promise of his emergence at Inter. He later signed for Birmingham City on loan from Rubin Kazan and scored the winning goal as the club upset Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final.
Javier Saviola (8)
Javier Saviola was viewed as one of South America’s brightest stars when he signed for Barcelona in the late nineties, having made his mark with 45 goals in 81 games for River Plate as a teenager.
Saviola wasted no time in making an impression and scored four goals in his first Champions League campaign in 2001/02, before adding a further seven the following season. Eight of the Argentine’s goals came before his 21st birthday, with Saviola scoring 70 goals in 168 games across his four seasons with Barcelona.
He joined Monaco on loan in 2004 after falling out of favour with Frank Rijkaard and later scored Champions League goals with Malaga and Olympiacos.
Raul’s record-breaking career at Real Madrid saw him announce his arrival on the biggest stage with a Champions League hat-trick against Ferencvaros aged just 18.
The Spanish striker scored eight goals in the competition before his 21st birthday, one which was celebrated soon after winning the Champions League for the first time in 1998.
He added two further winners medals and twice finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer, in a career which saw Raul score 71 goals in the competition. Just four players have managed more.
90s Hitmen: Raul – Real Madrid and Champions League royalty
Lionel Messi (8)
Lionel Messi’s appearance on this list will surprise few with the Argentine destined for big things from the moment he first appeared in a Barcelona shirt.
Messi made his debut in the Champions League as a teenager and scored eight goals before his 21st birthday, before evolving into arguably the greatest talent the game has ever seen.
A record seven Ballon d’Or wins, four Champions League titles, a World Cup, and a club record 672 goals for Barcelona are counted among a silverware cabinet bursting with honours.
Iconic Performances: Messi’s four-goal demolition of Arsenal
Jude Bellingham (8)
Bellingham’s latest goal saw the England midfielder climb into the top five, moving past Thierry Henry (7) with a stunning individual effort as Real Madrid edged a thriller in Napoli.
The goal was Bellingham’s eighth in just nine appearances since signing for Real Madrid and his second of the Champions League campaign to date, adding to the six European goals he scored across three seasons at Borussia Dortmund.
JUDE BELLINGHAM TAKE A BOW! 👏#UCL pic.twitter.com/48waXBD1E8
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 3, 2023
The 20-year-old picked up possession just inside the Napoli half before powering towards goal, a wonderful effort from a footballer who has made adapting to the demands of Real Madrid appear effortless.
We knew Bellingham was good. Whether we knew he was this good is a different matter.
Patrick Kluivert (9)
Arguably the Champions League’s first wonderkid, Patrick Kluivert remains the youngest ever final goalscorer.
Kluivert’s goal was the difference as Ajax beat AC Milan 1-0 in the 1995 final, as Louis van Gaal’s inexperienced side won a historic Eredivisie and Champions League double without losing a single game.
Kluivert formed part of Ajax’s Golden Generation with the 1994/95 campaign his first in the senior side. The forward scored 22 goals in all competitions, including that late final winner against Milan as a substitute, aged just 18 years, 10 months and 23 days.
90s Hitmen: One of the game’s most iconic boy wonders, Patrick Kluivert
Karim Benzema (12)
Karim Benzema arrived on the European scene at Lyon, where the teenager’s goalscoring form piqued the interest of the continent’s wealthiest clubs.
After a record of 12 goals in 19 Champions League games for the French side, Benzema completed a £30m move to Real Madrid in 2009. Part of the club’s second wave of Galactico signings, he became one of the greatest players in the club’s long and illustrious history.
Benzema scored 354 goals in 648 appearances for Real Madrid, a period which saw the French forward win the Champions League on five occasions and lift four La Liga titles.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo has ever scored more goals for Real Madrid, while only Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have more than Benzema’s 90 goals in the Champions League.
Kylian Mbappe (19)
Mbappe made his mark on the Champions League as part of the exciting Monaco side that reached the 2016/17 semi-finals.
Mbappe scored six goals in nine games for Monaco, who went on to win the Ligue 1 title, before Paris Saint-Germain spent big to lure the forward to the capital. Since that switch, Mbappe has continued his ascent to superstardom with the Frenchman now recognised as arguably the best footballer in the game.
📅 #OnThisDay in 2017 in Manchester…
🗞️ A teenager makes headlines in the round of 16 😮
🔥 Kylian Mbappé scores his first ever #UCL goal! ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/vMNARhg6hc
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 21, 2019
He has scored 41 goals in 62 Champions League games, already entering the all-time top 20, and is PSG’s record goalscorer with 220 goals in all competitions. It’s easy to forget the forward is still just 24, but Champions League success has proven elusive to date.
Erling Haaland (20)
Erling Haaland is the great rival to Mbappe’s title as football’s finest forward right now, having produced truly astonishing numbers in his career to date.
Haaland hit a hat-trick on his Champions League debut for Red Bull Salzburg as a teenager and has hardly stopped scoring since, racking up better than a goal-per-game in Europe’s top competition.
Haaland has scored 35 times in 31 appearances on club football’s biggest stage and led the competition for goals as Manchester City were crowned European champions in 2022/23.
Salzburg sensation: Four years since Haaland’s debut hat-trick 🧘♂️#UCL pic.twitter.com/aeyzpOKbFD
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 17, 2023
Records continue to tumble for Haaland, who at just 22 has already outscored names including Samuel Eto’o, Wayne Rooney, Hernan Crespo and Luis Suarez in this competition. There’s someway to go to catch the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, but the all-time record will be in his sights.
Read – Newcastle’s last Champions League XI at St James’ Park
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