We’ve trawled through history to bring you the most successful teams in European competition... like, ever.
Seventeen sides have won at least three continental trophies, which we define as the European Cup/Champions League, the Europa League/UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup. If two or more teams are level on the total number of titles, the club which has won the most Champions Leagues takes the higher position.
Oh, and the Super Cup doesn’t count – sorry, Jurgen...
17. Anderlecht (3)
1 Europa League, 2 Cup Winners’ Cups
The only Belgian side to have won three major European honours, Anderlecht first tasted success outside their homeland when they lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976. They then repeated the feat two years later, having finished as runners-up in the intervening campaign.
Anderlecht went one better in 1981/82, winning the UEFA Cup thanks to a narrow 2-1 aggregate victory over Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Benfica in the final.
15= Parma (3)
2 Europa Leagues, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
One of the cult teams of the 1990s, Parma won two Coppas Italia and finished as runners-up in Serie A but remain best known for their European accomplishments.
A 3-1 victory over Royal Antwerp at Wembley brought the Crociati the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1993, before they added a pair of UEFA Cups to the trophy cabinet in 1995 and 1999. Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Juan Sebastian Veron, Tomas Brolin, Gianfranco Zola, Faustino Asprilla, Lilian Thuram and Hernan Crespo are among the big-name players who claimed at least one piece of silverware at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
15= Tottenham (3)
2 Europa Leagues, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
Tottenham would have moved higher up this list had they overcome Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final, but the wait for their maiden triumph in Europe’s foremost tournament goes on.
Spurs did win a Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963 as part of their glory era under Bill Nicholson, thrashing Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the final. They later scooped UEFA Cups in 1972 and 1984, defeating Wolves and Anderlecht respectively.
14. Feyenoord (3)
1 Champions League, 2 Europa Leagues
Ajax may be the most successful Dutch club of all time, but Feyenoord were the first to win the European Cup. After beating KR Reykjavik, Milan, Vorwarts Berlin and Legia Warsaw to book a place in the 1970 showpiece, Ernst Happel’s men edged out Celtic in extra time.
Four years later they won the UEFA Cup, getting the better of Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham in the two-legged final. Feyenoord then bagged their third European honour in 2002, ousting Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in the UEFA Cup final at their own De Kuip home.
13. Atletico Madrid (4)
3 Europa Leagues, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
It has been a case of so near and yet so far for Atletico Madrid in the European Cup. On two occasions they have conceded last-minute equalisers in the final, with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid going on to prevail in 1974 and 2014. Two years after the latter near-miss, they were again beaten by their city rivals at the final hurdle.
Los Colchoneros have at least fared better in the continent’s junior competition, winning the Europa League three times in the last decade. They also got their hands on the Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1962, easing past Fiorentina in the final.
12. Porto (4)
2 Champions Leagues, 2 Europa Leagues
Jose Mourinho has gone on to win multiple trophies in England, Italy and Spain, but his greatest work remains that he carried out at Porto in the early 2000s. The Portuguese began by steering the Dragons to UEFA Cup glory against Celtic, then went one better by stunning the continent to win the Champions League 12 months later.
It wasn’t Porto’s first success in the competition, though – that came in 1987 with victory over Bayern Munich in the final. They then secured their fourth European gong in 2011, winning the Europa League under Andre Villas-Boas.
11. Sevilla (5)
5 Europa Leagues
Sevilla don’t like to diversify; the Europa League is the tournament for them. The only club on this list to have won just one of the three European competitions, Los Rojiblancos have been hugely successful in the continent’s secondary competition – no one has won it more often.
Remarkably, all five of their victories have come in the last 13 years. Juande Ramos guided Sevilla to success in 2006 and 2007, before Unai Emery won three in a row between 2014 and 2016.
10. Chelsea (5)
1 Champions League, 2 Europa Leagues, 2 Cup Winners’ Cups
Chelsea won three Premier League titles between 2004 and 2010, but they continually fell short in the Champions League. Yet despite possessing their weakest squad in some time, the Blues eventually succeeded against the odds in 2012.
Both of their Europa League triumphs came with unpopular managers at the helm – Rafael Benitez in 2013 and Maurizio Sarri earlier this year. Chelsea have also won two Cup Winners’ Cup, beating Real Madrid in the 1971 final and Stuttgart in 1998.
9. Manchester United (5)
3 Champions Leagues, 1 Europa League, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
Ten years after the Munich air disaster killed eight players and three members of staff, Matt Busby led United to European Cup glory in 1967. Alex Ferguson, the club’s other great manager, won the tournament twice, while the Red Devils have also triumphed in the Cup Winners’ Cup (under Feruson in 1991) and the Europa League (under Jose Mourinho in 2017).
Their most celebrated European achievement came in 1999, when two late goals saw United come from behind to beat Bayern Munich in dramatic fashion. Current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer grabbed the winner to help Ferguson’s side secure an unprecedented treble – he doesn’t like to mention it, though.
8. Juventus (6)
2 Champions Leagues, 3 Europa Leagues, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
For a club of their stature and record of domestic success, a return of two Champions Leagues is a sore point for Juventus. They first won the tournament in 1985, although the final against Liverpool was overshadowed by the Heysel disaster, before beating Ajax in Rome 11 years later.
The Europa League has proven more fruitful for the Old Lady, who came out on top in 1977, 1990 and 1993. Juve also won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984, beating PSG, Manchester United and Porto along the way.
7. Inter (6)
3 Champions Leagues, 3 Europa Leagues
Inter’s six European trophies have been split equally between the two longest-standing tournaments. Helenio Herrera, the king of catenaccio, was the manager responsible for their first two Champions League victories in 1964 and 1965, with Jose Mourinho following in his footsteps in 2010.
Their UEFA Cup successes all came in the 1990s: Inter beat Roma in the 1991 final, Austria Salzburg in 1994 and Lazio in 1998.
6. Ajax (6)
4 Champions Leagues, 1 Europa League, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
Ajax came within seconds of reaching the Champions League final last term, but Lucas Moura’s late, late goal for Tottenham broke their hearts. The team of 2018/19 was often compared to the 1994/95 vintage that Louis van Gaal led to glory on the biggest stage of all, with the Amsterdammers beating Milan in the showpiece.
Ajax’s most trophy-laden period was in the 1970s, when Johan Cruyff & Co. won three European Cups on the bounce. The club also have a UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup to their name, scooping the former in 1992 and latter in 1987.
5. Bayern Munich (6)
5 Champions Leagues, 1 Europa League
Bayern squeeze into the top five ahead of Ajax by virtue of their superior record in the Champions League. The Bavarians have continually fallen short in recent years, but they did triumph at Wembley in 2013, a year after suffering the indignation of losing the final to Chelsea at their own stadium.
Their previous triumph came in 2001, but Bayern’s golden era came when they won three European Cups in a row in the mid-1970s. The Bundesliga giants have also scooped the UEFA Cup, beating Bordeaux 5-1 on aggregate in the 1996 final.
4. Barcelona (9)
5 Champions Leagues, 4 Cup Winners’ Cup
Barcelona are undoubtedly among the world’s biggest clubs, but they have only become one of its most successful in relatively recent times. Indeed, the Blaugrana didn’t win their first European Cup until 1992 and their second until 2006, although they have now moved onto five with victories in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
The Catalans won more Cup Winners’ Cup than any other team, triumphing in 1979, 1982, 1989 and 1997, but they have never lifted the Europa League trophy – and will probably never get another chance to do so.
3. Liverpool (9)
6 Champions Leagues, 3 Europa Leagues
Only two clubs have won more Champions Leagues than Liverpool, and the same is true of major European titles overall. The Reds’ triumph in Madrid earlier this year moved them onto six European Cups, with their previous successes coming in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 2005.
The Merseysiders have also won three UEFA Cups, beating Borussia Monchengladbach in 1973, Club Brugge in 1976 and – in one of the most entertaining European finals of all time – Alaves in 2001.
2. Milan (9)
Milan have won 18 Serie A titles, but it’s in Europe where they come into their own. The Rossoneri lifted the European Cup in 1963 and 1969, then did the same with revolutionary management of Arrigo Sacchi in 1989 and 1990 – and again with his successor, Fabio Capello, in 1994.
Carlo Ancelotti guided Milan to Champions League glory in 2003 and 2007, the latter triumph making up for their surrender of a 3-0 lead against Liverpool in the 2005 final. The Italians also won two Cup Winners’ Cups in 1968 and 1973.
1. Real Madrid (15)
13 Champions Leagues, 2 Europa Leagues
The undisputed kings of the continent. Real Madrid boast an enviable record in European competition, having won 15 major trophies – including the biggest of all, the Champions League, on no fewer than 13 occasions.
Madrid won five European Cups in a row between 1956 and 1960, and almost repeated the feat in claiming four consecutive Champions Leagues between 2014 and 2018 (their four other triumphs came in 1966, 1998, 2000 and 2002). Los Blancos have even found the time to win two UEFA Cups, scooping the prize in 1985 and 1986.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.