Real Madrid became the first team to defend the Champions League in the modern era, since its rebranding in 1992. The Spanish giants have now won the competition for three of the previous four seasons and 12 times overall, including the European Cup days.
Many fans already think Zinedine Zidane’s side could lift the trophy for a third consecutive season in a year’s time. If you’re interested in their odd, you can bet on the football with Paddy Power.
Opponents Juventus had the second oldest starting XI in a final in the competition’s history so we thought we’d take a look at the top 10 oldest and youngest players to ever appear since 1992:
- Celestine Babayaro (16 years, 2 months, 25 days)
Former-Chelsea and Newcastle United left-back Celestine Babayaro remains the youngest player to have ever competed in the Champions League; a record the former-Nigerian international set whilst playing for Anderlecht in November 1994.
He stayed in Belgium until April 1997 when Ruud Gullit brought him to the Premier League in a £2.25 million deal for Chelsea. Babayaro ended up spending most of his career in England before moving to LA Galaxy in 2008, though fell out with management before making his competitive debut and was released.
Having been unsuccessful in trying to find a club thereafter the 27-time Nigerian international hung up his boots in his early 30s.
- Alen Halilović (16 years. 4 months. 6 days)
Still only 20, Alen Halilović became the second youngest player to make a Champions League appearance when he came on in stoppage time for Dinamo Zagreb in a group stage game versus Paris Saint-Germain back in 2012.
Less than two years later the diminutive playmaker was snapped up by Barcelona for what seemed a bargain €2.2 million. After a season in the B team he was loaned out to Sporting Gijón before being sold to Hamburger SV last summer. He didn’t get too much action with the Germans and spent the remainder of this past season back on loan in La Liga with Las Palmas.
Halilović possesses excellent technique and a good short passing game though does have a reputation for being a big diver. Plenty of years ahead of him to make a name and more Champions League appearances.
- Youri Tielemans (16 years, 4 months, 25 days)
The highly-rated Belgium midfielder made his Champions League debut only a few months older than 16 years in a 3-0 defeat for Anderlecht against Olympiacos. Youri Tielemans has played 10 Champions League games to date and a further 22 in the Europa League.
Despite only recently turning 20, Tielemans has captained Anderlecht to show his maturity and experience.
AC Monaco have splashed out €25 million on the box-to-box midfielder this summer so you can look forward to the youngster playing in the Champions League again next season.
- Charalampos Mavrias (16 years 07 months 29 days)
A 16-year-old Charalampos Mavrias made his Champions League debut for Panathinaikos before he had even made his league debut.
The Greek right winger’s career has somewhat peated out since, moving to Sunderland in 2013 where he would play only four Premier League games before being loaned out to back to his original club and later Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Still only 23 years old, Mavrias was playing in the 2. Bundesliga with Karlsruhe this past season, finishing rock bottom.
- Kenneth Zohore (16 years, 8 months, 19 days)
Not even 17 and Danish striker Kenneth Zohore had made his Champions League debut, at Camp Nou of all places.
He was snapped up by Fiorentina shortly thereafter but failed to make a single appearance in Serie A before being loaned out to Danish and Swedish clubs Brøndby IF and IFK Göteborg respectively.
Zohore has been with Cardiff City for the past year-and-half and his 12 goals in this past season’s Championship has been his best return in a single season to date. Still only 23 years old but has yet to be capped by the Danish national team.
- Moise Kean (16 years, 8 months, 25 days)
The latest player to join the list is Juventus’ Moise Kean who made his debut in the competition in the Italian champions’ 3-1 win at Sevilla in this past season’s group stage. It has been the Italian-Ivorian’s only appearance in the competition to date.
Kean made three cameo Serie A appearances but still only 17 there’s many more years for the young forward to increase these numbers.
- Bryan Cristante (16 years, 9 months, 3 days)
In December 2011 AC Milan’s young midfielder Bryan Cristante made his Champions League debut at Viktoria Plzeň in their final group stage game. This was nearly two years before he actually made his Serie A debut.
Cristante moved to Benfica in 2014 but failed to break into the first-team on a regular basis.
Now 22 years old, the Italian centre midfielder has only just played his first full season in a first team – and that was split across two loan spells; with Pescara and then Atalanta.
- Aleksandr Pavlenko (16 years, 9 months, 11 days)
In 2001, Aleksandr Pavlenko made a 7-minute cameo appearance in a Champions League group stage game for Spartak Moscow in Feyenoord. At the time it made him the second youngest player to ever appear in the competition.
He made a further four appearances in the competition the following season and to date those were his final Champions League matches, losing all five.
Now 32, the Ukrainian-born Russian has spent his career bouncing between the top two tiers in Russia.
- Roman Wallner (16 years, 10 months, 5 days)
In December 1998, a 16-year-old Austrian named Roman Wallner made a 6-minute cameo in Rapid Vienna’s 2-0 group stage defeat at home to Internazionale.
More than 18 years later and the striker is now a free agent having spent most of his career in the Austrian Bundesliga, though spent brief spells with Hannover 96, Falkirk and RB Leipzig.
That one game versus Inter proved to be the only Champions League appearance of Wallner’s career…
- Anthony Vanden Borre (16 years, 10 months, 21 days)
Anthony Vanden Borre is the third 16-year-old in the top 10 to have played Champions League football with Anderlecht.
The Belgian international spent a couple of seasons in Italy with Fiorentina and Genoa shortly after, and a loan spell in the Premier League with Portsmouth, before returning to his homeland. Still not 30, Vanden Borre has recently moved to Congolese side TP Mazembe.
The right-back made his debut back in 2004 and has gone on to make a total of 25 appearances in all in the competition, all in the group stage.
- Marco Ballotta (43 years, 8 months, 8 days)
A backup for many Serie A teams, Marco Ballotta arguably had the best spell of his career in his 40s at Lazio where he became the oldest player to play in the Champions League at 43, in a 3-1 defeat versus Real Madrid. This was his 10th and final appearance in the competition.
Balotta finished his careers in the lower divisions of Italy, finally calling it a day at the age of 50 in 2015.
- Oleksandr Shovkovskiy (41 years, 8 months, 11 days)
The now-retired Ukrainian goalkeeper made his Champions League debut all the way back in 1994 before becoming the second oldest goalkeeper to play in the competition in September 2016 – nearly two years younger than Marco Ballotta was.
Oleksandr Shovkovskiy spent his career at Dynamo Kiev after a short loan spell away from the club as a teenager. He represented the Ukraine national team 92 times which included being their goalkeeper at the country’s first World Cup in 2006.
- Mark Schwarzer (41 years, 6 months, 24 days)
Goalkeepers round up the top three and in third spot is former-Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. The Australian played for the Blues in their 2013-14 campaign, making his Champions League debut at the age of 41 before playing his third and final game in the semi-final defeat to Atlético Madrid.
Schwarzer spent two decades in England following his move from Germany to Bradford City in 1996, finally calling it a day as Leicester City’s backup when they won the Premier League in 2015-16.
- Alessandro Costacurta (40 years, 6 months, 28 days)
The first outfield player in the list is one of the most successful players in the competition: Alessandro Costacurta has lifted the European Cup/Champions League on five occasions – though he did miss two of the finals.
Costacurta called it a day early in the 2006-07 season at the age of 40 with one of his games being the 1-0 Champions League defeat at AEK Athens.
- David Weir (40 years, 6 months, 27 days)
Making his final Champions League appearance one day younger than Alessandro Costacurta, Rangers’ centre-back David Weir played his final game in the competition in Turkey at Bursaspor.
Weir made 17 appearances in all in Europe’s elite club cup competition, but only won one of his last 15.
- Edwin van der Sar (40 years, 6 months, 29 days)
Edwin van der Sar had won the Champions League as a 24-year-old before he made his international debt. The Dutch legend went on to represent his country 130 times in all, with his last tournament being Euro 2008.
As well as winning the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, van der Sar was the hero for Manchester United in their 2007-08 success over Chelsea in which he saved Nicolas Anelka’s penalty in the shootout.
His 98th and final game in the competition came in the 2011 final; a 3-1 loss to Bareclona.
- Jens Lehmann (40 years, 4 months, 7 days)
The former-Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper was a big part of Arsenal’s run to the 2006 final but was sent off after only 18 minutes versus Barcelona as the Gunners were beaten 2-1.
Jens Lehmann and Arsenal broke the record for the most consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League with 10, including a record run of 853 minutes for the German without conceding a goal.
- Ryan Giggs (40 years, 4 months, 3 days)
The second oldest outfield player to make an appearance in the Premier League, Ryan Giggs is the third oldest outfield player in Champions League history and eighth overall.
In April 2014 the football legend made his 145th and final appearance in the competition as Manchester United were eliminated by Bayern Munich. Next season the Red Devils will return to the Champions League for the first time since.
- Dany Verlinden (40 years, 3 months, 24 days)
Dany Verlinden was a top goalkeeper in his home country with Club Brugge where he spent 15 seasons following a move from Lierse in 1988. He once held the European record for most minutes without conceding a goal in the top flight and went on to win five league titles.
The Belgian made his Champions League debut in the inaugural 1992 season but it was December 2003 in a win over Ajax that he set the record for the oldest player to play in the competition. He has since been pushed down to ninth.
- Tasos Mitropoulos (40 years, 3 months, 17 days)
Tasos Mitropoulos became the first 40-year-old to play in the modern era of the Champions League when he made a 4-minute cameo appearance for Olympiacos in their 1997-98 campaign.
The Greek midfielder had previously played in the competition’s inaugural season following its rebranding in 1992, with AEK Athens. He actually played with all big three Athens clubs – Panathinaikos being the other, winning the Greek Super League title with each side.