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The players with the most Champions League final appearances

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Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will compete in the Champions League final next month, as club football’s biggest game heads to Wembley.

For Real Madrid, it is yet another visit to the Champions League final with the Spanish side having dominated European competition across the last decade.

Several of their squad are vastly experienced on this stage and for Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Dani Carvajal it could be a sixth appearance in the Champions League’s decisive game.

Ahead of this season’s final, we’ve looked at the players with the most final appearances in the Champions League era.

Toni Kroos – 5 (Bayern, Real Madrid)

Toni Kroos is set to compete in his sixth final this season.

Kroos first featured as Bayern Munich lost to Chelsea on home soil in 2012, though was absent for the final due to injury as the Bavarians bounced back to win the Champions League in 2012/13, as part of a Bayern Munich team that won the treble under Jupp Heynckes.

He signed for Real Madrid in 2014 after winning the World Cup with Germany that summer and has since won a further four Champions League trophies. The Spanish side became the first team to defend the trophy in the Champions League era, as part of three-in-a-row between 2016 and 2018.

Edwin van der Sar – 5 (Ajax, Manchester United)

Edwin van der Sar reached five finals during a glittering career that took in spells at Ajax and Manchester United. With the former, he was part of a Golden Generation that reached successive finals in 1995 and 1996, winning the former after beating AC Milan 1-0 in Vienna.

Van der Sar holds the record for the longest gap between Champions League wins, after lifting the trophy 13 years later at Manchester United. He saved the decisive kick in the shootout as the Red Devils beat Chelsea in the first all-English final in 2008.

🗣️ Sir Alex Ferguson: “He’s right up there with my best signings.”

🇳🇱 Edwin van der Sar = Manchester United legend🧤#UCL | @vdsar1970 | @ManUtd pic.twitter.com/0ezYRZiHsd

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 19, 2020

He later competed in losing efforts against Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 and became the oldest player to feature in a final during the Champions League era during the latter, at 40 years and 211 days.

Clarence Seedorf – 5 (Ajax, Real Madrid, AC Milan)

Clarence Seedorf has the unique distinction of being the only footballer to have won the Champions League with three different clubs.

Part of the famous Ajax side of the mid-nineties alongside the aforementioned Van der Sar, he later won Champions League titles with Real Madrid and AC Milan (2), losing just one of his five final appearances.

The moment Clarence Seedorf found out he made history 🥹#UCL pic.twitter.com/jFi82M39Ug

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 1, 2024

Midfield Magicians: A bona fide winner who simply oozed class, Clarence Seedorf

Luka Modric – 5 (Real Madrid)

Luka Modric has won five Champions League titles during a decorated career at Real Madrid. The Croatian midfielder helped the Spaniards to ‘La Decima’ and a 10th European crown during his debut season, before winning further titles in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022.

He was named winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2018, after Champions League success at club level and a starring role in Croatia’s run to the World Cup final.

The 38-year-old is in line for a sixth final appearance this season.

Patrice Evra – 5 (Monaco, Manchester United, Juventus)

Patrice Evra holds the unwanted record of being the first, and so far only, player to have lost four Champions League finals.

The French full-back was on the losing side for Monaco (2004), Manchester United (2009 and 2011) and Juventus (2015), though did get his hands on the trophy when Manchester United beat Chelsea in 2008.

Dani Carvajal – 5 (Real Madrid)

Dani Carvajal is the third member of the current Real Madrid team to feature here, and the right-back is set to feature in a sixth showpiece this season.

The 32-year-old has been an underrated part of a golden era for Los Blancos, for whom he has made 413 appearances in all competitions.

Karim Benzema – 5 (Real Madrid)

Karim Benzema won five Champions League trophies alongside Modric and Carvajal and scored in the 2018 final win over Liverpool in Kyiv.

He had an instrumental role in Real Madrid’s run to success in 2021/22, as Benzema finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer with 15 goals and won the Ballon d’Or.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 6 (Manchester United, Real Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo holds a long list of records in this competition, including for the most final appearances in the Champions League era.

Ronaldo reached his first final with Manchester United in 2008 and scored as the Red Devils beat Chelsea after a penalty shootout in Moscow. After losing the following season’s final, he signed for Real Madrid in a world-record deal that summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s highlights from the 2008 final 🍿#UCL pic.twitter.com/CLNsCulQUR

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 5, 2023

The £80m investment proved worthwhile as Ronaldo scored a record-breaking 450 goals in 438 appearances for the Spanish side. He holds the records for most appearances (183), goals (140), assists (42), and final goals (4) in Champions League history.

Iconic Performances: Ronaldo treble kills Atletico’s Champions League dreams

Paolo Maldini – 6 (AC Milan)

Paolo Maldini also made six final appearances in the Champions League era, during an incredible one-club career at his beloved AC Milan.

Maldini has made eight appearances in the final overall, with two pre-dating the rebrand as the Champions League, and won the trophy on five occasions.

🔴⚫️ Synonymous with the art of Italian defending for over three decades. Milan royalty Paolo Maldini showing his class…@acmilan | #HBD | #UCL pic.twitter.com/l3YIUa3c8y

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 26, 2022

He was named man-of-the-match as Milan beat Juventus in the 2003 final before he became the oldest captain to lift the trophy, age 38, after his fifth success four years later.

Maldini’s eight European Cup/Champions League final appearances is a record shared with Real Madrid great Paco Gento.

Read – Defensive Rocks: Paolo Maldini – Milan’s Il Capitano

See more – The British players to win the Champions League with an overseas club

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