Another game played, another record broken! Lionel Messi scored his 50th and 51st Champions League goals this week, and in doing so became the youngest player to break the 50-goal barrier. But he's not the quickest player to have done so, and he's not the Champions League all-time top goalscorer - yet! So here's a look at the competitions most prolific hitmen...
Since the competitions inception in 1992, the UEFA Champions League has become one of the leading tournaments in world football, playing host to some of the greatest players in the modern era. Many players have, and many are continuing to leave their mark on the competition. So as Leo Messi sets the game alight and breaks records, it's surely only a matter of time until he's the Champions League leading goalscorer, but until that time let's take a look at the current top ten goalscorers. (correct as of 03/04/12 and not including qualifying rounds)
The UEFA Champions League all-time top scorer, Raul is one of football's legendary strikers and leads the way on 71 goals. Between the period of 1995-2010 Raul was the leading striker for Los Blancos, and notched no less than 66 goals in the Champions League. Still hitting the back of the net, but now for Schalke, Raul has scored all his goals from adidas Predator football boots and his tally of 71 is twenty goals more than Messi has currently scored, so Leo's got some catching up to do!
When you've scored Champions League goals for both Manchester United and Real Madrid, then you've got to be one of football's most prolific strikers - and that is exactly what Ruud van Nistelrooy is. He holds the record for reaching 50 Champions League goals in the quickest amount of games possible, Van Nistelrooy's 62 games beats Messi's 66 games to reach that mark. Ruud has scored all his goals from Nike football boots, and after beginning his career in the Mercurial range he switched into Nike Tiempo football boots.
What superlatives are left to describe Lionel Messi? Every football fan is aware we're lucky enough to be watching one of football's greatest ever players in the prime of their career. Messi has surpassed 50 Champions League goals at the age of 24, and with van Nistelrooy just five goals ahead and Raul twenty, Messi has got time on his side to become the competitions all-time top scorer. Of course we don't need to remind boot fans out there that Lionel Messi has been in prolific form wearing adidas F50 football boots.
Thierry Henry completes the select group of players who have reached 50 Champions League goals, and scoring for Monaco, Arsenal and Barcelona, the striker has got some good pedigree. Henry played for 13 years in the UEFA Champions League, with the lions' share of his goals coming for Arsenal. During the competition Henry wore both Nike Mercurial football football boots, and then in the latter years Reebok football boots.
Shevchenko's Champions League career is one that's gone full circle. After catching the eye playing for Dynamo Kyiv and subsequently moving to Milan then Chelsea, Shevchenko returned to Milan from Chelsea, and is now back with Dynamo Kyiv. In his prime Shevchenko was one of football's most explosive strikers, scoring 33 Champions League goals with Milan, which includes being one of only a few players to have scored four in one game which came against Fenerbahce in 2005.
The ultimate goal-hanger and goal poacher, Inzaghi is the striker you hate if he's not on your team but love if he's leading your sides attack. Inzaghi has played in the Champions League for over 10 years and in that period chalked up 46 goals, one of the competitions most dangerous finishers, Inzaghi averaged over a goal every two games for Parma, Juventus and Milan.
Along with Lionel Messi, Del Piero has scored all his Champions League goals with just one club. Juventus legend Del Piero has been playing in the competition since 1995, the same time Raul has played in the competition, but Del Piero has of course played fewer games. The Italian striker has been an adidas man throughout, after originally wearing the F50's he is now in the adipure football boots.
Drogba is one of the few players in the top ten who is likely to improve on his tally, although not by much we might suggest. Before hitting the back of the Champions League net with Chelsea, Drogbas was scoring for Marseille, and being acknowledged as one of the competitions strongest strikers with a fierce shot. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, all of Drogba's Champions League goals have come from Nike Mercurial football boots.
It comes as a surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo so far down the list in comparison to eternal rival Lionel Messi. But Ronaldo is another player with time on his side, who will undoubtedly finish his Champions League goalscoring career near the top of the all-time chart. Ronaldo has scored for both Manchester United and Real Madrid in the competition, with all his goals have come from the Nike Mercurial football boots he champions, but already he's played 76 games which is ten more than Messi.
A Champions League journeyman, Morientes has played for Real Madrid, Monaco, Liverpool, Valencia and Marseille. But give him credit, he's hit the back of the net at all clubs and climbed his way into the competitions all-time top 10 scorers. A Pred wearer like his more famous strike partner Raul, Morientes might find his time in the top ten short-lived as he's the only player from the list to have retired from the game.
We imagine fast forward the clocks five years, and we might be looking at Messi and Ronaldo further up the list along with some fresh faces. But there are some great players currently leading the way, so share your Champions League goalscoring opinions with the SoccerBible community online, on Twitter and on Facebook.