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Which Nationalities Have Played the Biggest Role in Winning European Cup

  • 19 May 2020
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 Which Nationalities Have Played the Biggest Role in Winning European Cup/Champions League Finals

 
It’s no secret these days that the strongest teams on the planet import a lot of foreign players into their squads, after all there is an enormous wealth of talent all around the world, why would you restrict yourself to just your home country? What I would like to find out is which nationalities have had the greatest success in Europe’s Premier Competition – the UEFA Champions League (formerly the European Cup), which is arguably the strongest football competition on the planet and certainly one of the hardest to win.

To do this I counted the nationalities of every player that appeared on the winning side in a UCL/EC final from 1955 until 2019, including anyone that came off the bench. I toyed with the idea of including the nationalities of every player that featured at any point in the competition for the winning side but this would have taken too long. Moreover there is something romantic about the European Cup Final that you simply don’t get anywhere else in football, players that appear in it deserve to be highlighted in the history books.

Naturally the list is dominated by European countries, but of course Brazilians and Argentines have featured heavily in recent years. I was staggered to find out that Brazil has more Champions League Final winners (46) than France (37), and even more so to discover that Brazilians have featured on the winning side in UCL/EC finals more than any other country (25) despite not being a UEFA state.


Table of Results

The following table ranks the 51 nationalities that have made an appearance on the winning team in UCL/EC Finals by four metrics:

  • Total - the total number of players of that nationality that have featured for the winning side in a final. Note that the same player can be counted twice – for example Cristiano Ronaldo has added five to Portugal’s tally.

  • Apps - the number of times that nationality has had any player feature for the winning side in a final. This should give an idea of where the foreign talent is coming from and how many teams they are spreading out to play for.

  • Adjusted UCLs - this is a fun one, don’t take it too seriously! This metric attempts to predict how many European Cups a particular nationality has directly contributed to by having their players feature on the winning side in the final. Take the 2004 Champions League Final for example, Porto won the title that year and had 14 players feature on the night, ten of them were Portuguese, two of them were Brazilian, one was Russian and one was South African so we can say that the contribution to the European Cup for that year was as follows:

Nationality No. Players Contribution
Portuguese 10 0.714
Brazilian 2 0.143
South African 1 0.071
Russian 1 0.071
  • Actual UCLs - the number of UCL/EC titles won by clubs in that particular country.

*Table can be sorted by individual columns by clicking on them if you have RES.

Country Total Apps Adjusted UCLs Actual UCLs
Spain 143 23 10.940 18
Italy 103 13 8.243 12
England 84 16 6.936 13
Netherlands 78 20 6.411 6
Germany 75 19 6.091 7
Portugal 55 15 4.412 4
Brazil 46 25 3.387 0
France 37 23 2.749 1
Scotland 35 10 2.972 1
Argentina 22 14 1.623 0
Romania 15 3 1.155 1
Yugoslavia 12 2 1.000 1
Croatia 9 9 0.666 0
Republic of Ireland 9 6 0.735 0
Denmark 8 6 0.677 0
Sweden 8 7 0.639 0
Wales 8 8 0.602 0
Cameroon 4 4 0.291 0
Czech Republic 4 3 0.291 0
Uruguay 4 4 0.297 0
Costa Rica 3 3 0.214 0
Ghana 3 3 0.220 0
Ivory Coast 3 2 0.231 0
Mali 3 3 0.220 0
Nigeria 3 2 0.231 0
Norway 3 2 0.225 0
Poland 3 3 0.225 0
Serbia 3 3 0.214 0
Austria 2 2 0.160 0
 

 

 

 

 


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 Which Nationalities Have Played the Biggest Role in Winning European Cup

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