With Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm heading towards retirement, Bayern Munich’s clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday could represent a Champions League farewell for two icons of the modern era.
Alonso first graced continental competition in 2003-04 while with Real Sociedad, with his debut in the competition made against Olympiakos on September 17, 2003.
His first goal arrived in his second outing against Galatasaray, but he tasted last-16 defeat against Lyon and moved on to Liverpool in the summer of 2004.
A memorable debut campaign at Anfield delivered a remarkable Champions League triumph, with Alonso completing the Reds’ comeback from three goals down against Milan as he converted the rebound from his own saved spot-kick – before Rafa Benitez’s side prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.
A second winners’ medal arrived while with Real Madrid in 2013-14, but Alonso was forced to sit out another memorable final through suspension.
The World Cup winner departed the Spanish capital for Munich in August 2014, with more regular outings in Europe taking him to 126 on a Champions League stage - with it possible that only one more will be added to that tally before he hangs up his boots.
Lahm will head into retirement at the end of the season with his place as a Bayern Munich legend already safely secured.
Having linked up with his home-town club at 11 years old, aside from two seasons spent on loan at Stuttgart, the World Cup winner has been a model of consistency throughout a remarkable career that many consider to be ending too soon at the age of 33.
His senior debut for Bayern actually came in the Champions League, as a late substitute in a 3-3 draw with Lens on November 13, 2002.
Seven outings in Europe’s premier club competition were added to his tally while with Stuttgart, before he returned to Bavaria to help play a leading role in an era which has seen him grace three finals – finally emerging victorious in an all-German date with Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in 2013 to get his hands on the famous trophy.
Having previously tasted defeat against Inter and Chelsea, Lahm has been unable to add to that solitary crown but he has now graced 113 Champions League fixtures – placing him in an elite group alongside Alonso of players to have passed the century mark.