Most of the time when we look at our idols, we see all the good stuff they collected throughout magical careers, but, what everybody tries to avoid when they talk about certain players are the failures they had at some point. Football is a game that can give and take from you with the same ease, so it’s not a surprise when you see some of the best luminaries this sport has had losing finals when everything looked in their favor.
In order to succeed, you have to fail and learn and that’s what some of these guys did in their career. Some of them are considered complete legends and others didn’t do bad, either; playing finals is hard and even though your name is huge, you have 11 rivals trying to steal a trophy for you, and some of those have actually succeeded at it.
Here are 10 players with the most final defeats. Footballers that are considered the best of the best and had the chance to collect more silverware during their careers, but couldn’t do so due to several factors.
Honorable Mention: Michael Ballack (4 final defeats)
10. Zinedine Zidane (4 finals)
Zidane is one of the most talented players in football history and one of the most successful. Wherever he went to play, he exceeded and play for important things; however, he also tasted defeat, some more shocking than others.
In total, Zizou lost four finals throughout his career, starting from the UEFA Cup final in 1996 when his Bordeaux lost in front of Bayern Munich, then Juventus lost two Champions League against Borussia Dortmund (1997) and Real Madrid (1998) before he got to lose the most painful final of his career when Italy defeated France for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when Zidane got expelled after attacking Marco Materazzi.
9. Gianluigi Buffon (5 finals)
The Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon is one of the greatest footballers ever, but all his talent hasn’t prevented him from losing finals, painful finals. Gigi started his career with Parma, where he went to play and win important things before following the same path with Juventus.
Buffon has lost five finals throughout his career; he hasn’t had luck at an international level, losing three Champions League finals with La Vecchia Signora and the 2004 Coppa Italia. Now with his new club, Paris Saint-Germain, Buffon lost the Coupe de France against Stade Rennais recently.
8. Javier Zanetti (5 finals)
Javier Zanetti has to be one of the most respected players in the world, as he is a complete idol in the eyes of Internazionale’s supporters and loved by a big number of neutral fans who either liked his style of play or his behavior inside and outside the pitch.
He won plenty of stuff with the Nerazzurri but also got to lose another. For instance, he lost the UEFA Cup in 1997 against Germans Schalke 04. With the Argentinian national side, Zanetti lost two Copa America in front of Brazil (2004 and 2007) and two Confederations Cup against Denmark and Brazil in 1995 and 2005, respectively.
7. Paolo Maldini (5 finals)
Paolo Maldini is considered the best defender of all time by the big majority of fans across the world. His 26 trophies can say something about it, as Maldini did nothing else but collect titles like they were simple coins.
Nevertheless, Paolo lost 5 finals during his career, titles that might have increased his legend, if that was possible. He fell off short in three Champions League finals; Olympique Marseille (1993), Ajax (1995) and Liverpool (2005) cut the hopes of Maldini to become the unbeaten king of the UCL. Besides, he lost two major titles with his national side: the 1994 World Cup and the 2000 UEFA Euro that Italy lost against France in a dramatic fashion.
6. Alessandro Del Piero (5 finals)
One of the greatest players of his generation, Alessandro Del Piero, tasted the sweet flavor of victory and the bitter taste of defeat throughout his career, losing hurtful things with his beloved Juventus in more than one occasion.
Just like Paolo Maldini, ‘Pinturicchio’ lost three Champions League finals in front of Borussia Dortmund (1997), Real Madrid (1998) and Milan (2003). Plus, at an international level, Alessandro lost the mentioned UEFA Euro against France back in 2000. He surely had a marvelous career, but winning at least one of the trophies that he lost might have made him happier.
5. Roberto Ayala (5 finals)
Roberto Ayala was a very good center-back during his prime, despite the fact he wasn’t the tallest one. With his talents, he went to play for big clubs, including Spanish side Valencia, where Ayala had the best moments of his European tenure.
Albeit he won 7 titles during his career, Ayala almost lost the same number of trophies; in total, he lost 5 finals, two back-to-back Champions League with the Spaniards in front of Bayern and Real Madrid, one Olympic game with his national team in 1996 and two Copa America in 2004 and 2007.
4. Arjen Robben (6 finals)
No matter how talented Arjen Robben is, sometimes that hasn’t been enough for him and his team to get victories and titles. He had shown in the past how good he is and how unbalancing he can be in favor of his squad, but there were times when that wasn’t enough to unlock a game or secure a victory.
Throughout his career, Arjen has lost six finals, some of them with big participation of him. He lost two Champions League finals, one in 2010 against Internazionale and 2012 in front of Chelsea; Bayern played at home in the latter and Robben missed a penalty during the first half of extra time. Plus, he lost the 2010 FIFA World Cup against Spain with the Dutch missing two clear opportunities in front of the rival’s net, as well as three consecutive DFB Pokal finals from 2013 to 2015.
3. Carlos Tevez (8 finals)
Carlos Tevez has played and won several finals, and has also lost them more than once. ‘El Apache’ has had a very successful career playing for some of the best clubs in the world, lifting trophies everywhere he went.
But, Tevez has lost the unenviable number of 8 finals during his career at a club and international level. He lost three Copa America with Argentina (2004, 2007 and 2015), one Confederations Cup in 2005 plus two Copa Libertadores (2004 and 2018) and two UEFA Champions League (2009 and 2015).
2. Lionel Messi (9 finals)
What is left to say about Messi? This guy has done everything he wanted to do on the pitch, but however successful he can be, he has gotten beat more than once, sometimes leaving doubts about his capacity to lead teams and to make his appearance in clutch moments.
Lio has lost 9 finals in his career, most of them with his national team, earning a debt with the team and its supporters. He has lost 4 finals with the Albiceleste; three in the Copa America (2007, 2015 and 2016) and one for the FIFA World Cup (2014). With Barcelona, he lost the 2006 UEFA Super Cup, the 2011 Copa del Rey and three Spanish Super Cup in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
1. Javier Mascherano (11 finals)
Javier Mascherano has been one of the most versatile and reliable players football has seen in recent years, earning the chance to represent some of the biggest clubs in Europe and his national team, a big powerhouse in world football.
The Chief, however, was unable to win 11 finals, making it to the top of this list. He had stints in big clubs like Liverpool or Barcelona, where he played and lost finals, totaling 11 right now. Back in 2003, he lost the Copa Sudamericana with River Plate, the 2007 UCL finals with Liverpool against Milan; then in Barcelona, he lost the 2011 Copa del Rey and three Spanish Super Cup in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
With Argentina, Masche lost five finals, four Copa Americas (2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016) as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in front of Germany.