This is the list of top 10 most successful football clubs in Europe who have won the European Cup/Champions League more than once. These teams have produced Legends along the line and today, they stand out as the most successful of teams in Europe for all time.
Top 10 Most Successful Football Clubs in Europe
1. Real Madrid: 11 times.
(1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016).
Real Madrid are the undisputed most successful club in Europe, they have won the European Cup/Champions League a record 11 times more than any other European club and they are well respected worldwide.
In the early 1950s, they signed the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Raymond Kopa and this proved successful as Los Blancos went on to win the first five European Cups. They have since added 6 more to make it 11 in all.
2. AC Milan: 7 times.
(1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007).
AC Milan are behind Real Madrid in terms of European success. They have won the competition 7 times and they are the most successful Italian team in Europe. AC Milan first lifted the trophy in 1963 with a 2-1 win over Benfica and before dominating Johan Cruyff’s Ajax six years later.
3. Bayern Munich: 5 times
(1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013).
Bayern Munich enjoyed a golden period during the mid 1970s with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier led the club to a hat-trick of European titles during this era. The prolific Muller scored 18 European Cup goals during Bayern’s three triumphs as it spelled a reign of sheer dominance for German football. Bayern have proved to be a force in Europe with their attacking brand of football.
4. Liverpool: 5 times.
(1977,1978, 1981, 1984, 2005).
Liverpool are the most succesful English football club in Europe. They have overseen quite a number of European Cup final triumphs but their most famous night in Istanbul Turkey, on the 25th of May, 2005 in Istanbul when they faced AC Milan in the Champions League and were trailing 3-0 at half-time and it seemed as though their opponents were a class apart on the night. However, with the help of their influential captain Steven Gerrard, Liverpool staged an almighty comeback to level the game at 3-3 with three goals in six minutes.The match went to penalties and Liverpool shocked the world by winning their fifth European title.
That night in Istanbul has been a source of inspiration for Liverpool on the continental stage.
5. Barcelona: 5 times.
(1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014).
Some of the games greatest ever players have played for Barcelona. From Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Michael Laudrup to more recently Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Having played second fiddle to domestic rivals Real Madrid for countless years, Barcelona finally won the last ever European Cup tournament in 1992 under the coaching of Johan Cruyff who described his Catalan side as the ”Dream Team.” Ronald Koeman’s extra time strike against Sampdoria gave Barca their first taste of European silverware.
The club would have to wait almost 15 years to regain the giant trophy. This time another Dutchman, Frank Rijkaard led the side a 2-1 victory over English club Arsenal in the final in 2006.
With Pep Guardiola at the helm, Barcelona introduced a new playing style to their game known as tiki-taka. With the likes of Spain stars Xavi and Iniesta pulling the strings in midfield, Barcelona demonstrated their class by twice defeating Premier League giants Manchester United in the Champions League final in 2009 and 2011.
The Catalan club is still one of the top teams in Europe, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring exploits of star forward, Lionel Messi.
6. Ajax Amsterdam: 4 times.
(1971, 1972, 1973, 1995).
The Dutch masters are the pioneers of the term ”Total Football” epitomised by the legendary Johan Cruyff who remains the country’s greatest ever player along with being one of the best players of all time.
Ajax reached their apex in the early 1970s with three consecutive European Cup triumphs. The Amsterdam team of this era paved the way for future great sides such as Barcelona and AC Milan with their relentless attacking flair and panache and charisma. If football is a theatre, then Cruyff’s Ajax were the original conductors.
In 1995, 22 years since their last European Cup triumph, Ajax returned to the top of the club football with arguably the last homegrown team to win the Champions League.
7. Inter Milan: 3 times.
(1964, 1965, 2010).
Inter Milan is a club that has spent its entire footballing life in the shadow of neighbours, AC. However in the mid 60s the Nerazzurri won two European Cups, thanks in no small part to three players, Giancinto Facchetti, Luis Suarez and Sandro Mazzola.
Then manager, Helenio Herrera adopted a new 5-3-2 formation, which was more commonly known as, Catenaccio. This allowed Inter to play with wing-backs as opposed to defensive minded full backs and ensured that Facchetti became one of the best players in the world at the time, not only helping Inter to two European Cup wins but also the 1968 European Championship with Italy.
In 2010, almost 50 years after their last triumph, manager Jose Mourinho led the Milanese side to their first Champions League win with not one single Italian player in his starting lineup for the 2-0 final win over Bayern Munich.
Wesley Sneijder proved the creative mastermind and was arguably the best player throughout the tournament that year, while Diego Milito’s six goals including two in the final helped Inter become champions of Europe for a third time.
8. Manchester United: 3 times.
(1968, 1999, 2008).
One of the most significant events in football history occurred in 1958. This was known as the Munich Air Disaster which claimed the lives of a number of Manchester United players, including Duncan Edwards. Few survived, namely manager Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton.
However as the years went by, United began to rebuild and put together a fantastic team consisting of Charlton, George Best and Denis Law. Under the management of Busby, United went on to defeat Eusebio’s Benfica in the 1968 European Cup Final and thus becoming the first English team to lift the prestigious trophy.
It was more than thirty years later before United got their hands on the trophy again. United took on Bayern Munich in the final in Barcelona and were a goal down within the first five minutes. Bayern led the match for more than 85 minutes but two injury time goals firstly from Teddy Sheringham and the winner from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ensured United were champions of Europe for a second time.
As commentator Clive Tyldesley appropriately said: ”No team will ever win a final more dramatically than this.”
Nine years later, United won the Champions League for a second time, defeating domestic rivals Chelsea in the final on penalties. The club’s success that year was largely due to the goalscoring prowess of Cristiano Ronaldo. Fittingly, the 2008 triumph was 40 years after the club won the trophy for the first time and the 50 year anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.
9. Porto: 2 times.
Porto became European Champions for the first time in 1987 following a late rally to give the Portuguese side a 2-1 win over German giants Bayern Munich. Despite this being a huge achievement by the club, the Champions League win in 2004 under the guidance of manager Jose Mourinho that has made Porto famous.
Despite making the final, Porto were seen as underdogs to French side Monaco who had been red hot throughout the tournament and had the two top scorers in the competition that year. The odds were stacked against Mourinho’s men, however, Mourinho proved he is indeed a tactical mastermind as his side ran out 3-0 winners against Monaco.
A fine achievement given that Porto were not even considered to reach the quarter-finals after being pitted against English champions, Manchester United.
10. Juventus: 2 times.
In 1985, Juventus put an end to the dominance which Liverpool thrived on since a decade previous. The Serie A side boasted arguably their best team ever with Zbigniew Boniek, Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli, Paolo Rossi and French star Michel Platini all key figures in the Old Lady’s squad.
Led by Giovanni Trapattoni, Juventus defeated the English side by a goal to nil courtesy of a second half penalty from Platini. Astonishingly it was the first time the Italian giants had won the European Cup, despite being the top team in their country for decades along with AC Milan.
Eleven years later and Juve would once again reigned supreme in Europe by seeing off Dutch side Ajax in the final on penalties following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. The side was heavily influenced by Italian star, Alessandro Del Piero who would play for the club for almost twenty years.
Surprisingly, Juventus hold an unwanted tally of being runners up in five European Cup/Champions League tournaments. Nonetheless, the Italian club has showcased some of the greatest players in the biggest club competition in the world.