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2015: The Year Zlatan Finally Removes His Name From This List of Champions League Losers?

10-man Paris Saint-Germain pulled off the improbable on Wednesday, dumping Chelsea out of the Champions League after a fiery encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Not that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had much to do with it: the Swede with a head bigger than a Zeppelin was dismissed - albeit contentiously - after just 30 minutes. We suspect Zlatan was maybe a little over-eager; a touch too keen to single-handedly drag PSG through to the quarter finals. After all, in his otherwise glittering 15-year career he's yet to climb the top step of Europe's premier domestic competition.

So The18 decided to pull together a list of fellow Champions League chumps to show him that, whatever happens, he's still in exalted company. While they may collectively have more silverware than the set of Downton Abbey, there are no sprinkles for these losers, who, to a man, have singularly fallen flat on club football's biggest stage. 

It's OK, Zlatan. You really don't have to win everything.

Ground rules: all players under consideration are either retired or over the age of 30, and played in Europe after the Champions League's expansion. 

5. Eric Cantona

cantona united

Photo: @culturedleftpeg | Twitter

The mercurial Frenchman is arguably the greatest natural talent to have ever graced the Premier League, capable of ungodly moments of brilliance and madness, often within the same 90 minutes. He won four league titles in England and another two in Ligue 1, with two FA Cups and a Coupe de France to boot. But Cantona was part of Ferguson's European learning curve. He retired, at the tender age of 30, hours after United were knocked out of the 1997 semi-finals by Borussia Dortmund. Just two years later, United lifted Fergie's first Champions League trophy.

4. Gianluigi Buffon


Photo: @WhoOutCom | Twitter

He's played at the very top of European football for nearly two decades, 15 of which have been spent between the posts at Italy's most trophied club (Juventus). He's worked under some of the most successful coaches in European football - Lippi, Capello, Ancelotti - and he's collected countless domestic silverware as well as a World Cup winner's medal. And yet, despite being recognized as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Gianluigi Buffon has never managed to get his gloves on old "Big Ears." 

3. Michael Ballack

ballack chelsea

Ever the bridesmaid, Michael Ballack brings new meaning to the phrase "second place is the first loser." In 2008, he was a runner-up in the Premier League, the League Cup and the Champions League with Chelsea, as well as the European Championships with Germany: four times a runner-up in one solitary season. We'd say that was nigh-on impossible were it not for the fact that Ballack did exactly the same thing in 2002 as well.

Two runners-up medals - one with Chelsea, the other with Bayer Leverkusen - is as close as the German midfielder got to Champions League glory.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

zlatan psg

Photo @carlos_velilla | Twitter

The man himself. The archetypal mercenary footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has racked up over $200 million in transfer fees during his career, playing for such storied European institutions as Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and AC Milan (PSG are still a long way from being storied). In the course of his career, those teams have won the Champions League on six separate occasions. Perhaps if he'd stuck around for longer than three years at any one of them he might have a Champions League medal around his neck. Whether the ribbon would fit over his massive ego is another matter entirely.

1. Ronaldo

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima. The second highest goal-scorer of all time for Brazil, behind only Pelé. Twice a World Cup winner. Twice a Copa America winner. Twice a Ballon d'Or winner and thrice FIFA World Player of the Year. Ronaldo. The Phenomenon. The only man Zlatan Ibrahimovic will admit is better than him

And he never won the Champions League.

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