Practically, it’s impossible to compare two or more football clubs, because of many facts. The country, the number of teams that are in their league, the number or type of trophies that they have won, the year in which they were founded, the number and the type of fans that support them and so on. For many, every one of these above can be the most important fact in the way that they see and love their team. Still, we can make a relatively objective top, of the more successful teams from the World.
How I will do that? Well, it doesn’t appear to be so though, but in reality it really is. The number of important trophies marks best the team’s successes, even tough, some squads have a huge number of distinctions, but few people heard of them. We will see this in the rows that continue my writing and also I would like to mention from the start that my top will only include teams that won at least 60 trophies (because they are exactly ten) and only clubs from Europe (because no club from outside managed to touch this number, despite Penarol Montevideo’s 48 league titles in Uruguay).
So, let the show begin and enjoy a few rows about the top ten club football teams from Europe.
1. Glasgow Rangers – 115 trophies
– It looks like an impressive number and it really is, because the Scotish giants are regarded as one of the most prestigious teams from Europe, even though they only manage to won one single international trophy, the Cup Winners Cup, in 1972, at exactly 100 years from the club’s birth date. Excepting this, Rangers only won internal trophies (54 titles – world record, 33 Cups and 27 League Cups). For the Romanians, Rangers is a name that brings joy, because in the last two decades three memorable things happened. First, in the mid ‘90s a superb goal from Daniel Prodan brought Steaua a 1-0 victory in the Champion’s League groups and the defender eventually went to play for the British side. Still, a couple of bad injuries forbid him from appearing a single minute. So, nearly 15 years had to pass until a Romanian would eventually play for the team from Glasgow: Dorin Goian, who joined the team in the summer of 2011, when he was bought from Italian squad Palermo. Also, in the autumn of 2009, Unirea Urziceni, the defunct Romanian champions, won on Ibrox Park with 4-1, in the Champions’ League group stage, marking one of the most successful matches of Romanian teams from all time.
2. Linfield Belfast – 103 trophies
– just like I said before, on the second position of this top lies a team about which few heard. No wonder, because outside the fact that Linfield comes from Northern Ireland, one of the poorest European countries, when we talk about football, they also have only a statute of a… semi-professional team. So, that explains why they don’t have and probably never have an international title. Still it is a performance to won so many national trophies, especially when you achieved so far 50 titles, 41 Cups, 9 League Cups and 3 Super Cups. But these are not all the trophies that the football club achieved, because Linfield won many other regional and local distinctions. I won’t insist on this fact, because I’ll treat it widely in a future text, but I only want to say that the club from Belfast has one a total of… 256 (!!!!) trophies, a number that surely transforms Linfield in the World’s most successful team, even though many people didn’t hear a single fact of the club founded in 1886.
3. Celtic Glasgow – 92 trophies
– the podium could only be completed by another British team. This time, a popular team, which is also Rangers’ biggest rival. Born in 1888, Celtic is the first squad from this top which won the European Champions Cup, in 1967. Still, that is the only international trophy and it’s collection is completed by 42 national titles, 35 domestic Cups and 14 League Cups. The great rivalry between Rangers and Celtic made them share most of the Scotish trophies, but also made the two to be bored about playing in their Championship. So, a couple of years ago, the two demanded to be allowed to take part in the English Premier League, a wish that was rejected by the board from the Albion.
4. FC Barcelona – 78 trophies
– on this spot lies probably one of the World’s biggest clubs. Only in the last three and a half years, Barcelona obtained 13 from a possible of 16 trophies! The Spanish club has an impressive total of 17 international trophies (4 European Cups, 4 Cup Winners’ Cup, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 3 Inter Cities , Fair Cups and 2 FIFA World Club Cups). Also, Barcelona won 21 league titles, 25 Spanish Cups, 13 Super Cups and 2 League Cups (a competition that took place only in the mid ‘80s). It looks like the Catalan side has more to go until can catch up with the teams above, but considering of its form – many say that this Barcelona is the greatest teams from all time – it is expected that more trophies will be added in the near future. Still, judging by the importance of the Cups, Barcelona definitely has the most valuable trophies from all the teams mentioned until now.
5. Real Madrid – 74 trophies
– the team from the capital is Barcelona’s biggest rival, and although they have four trophies fewer, the whites can be proud that are the squad with the most European Champions Cups/Leagues from all clubs: 9. Plus, Real Madrid has won the most number of Spanish titles: 31. Their problem is the internal Cup, which they won it only in 18 cases (fewer than Bilbao!) and the national Super Cup (9). Despite of this, the Spaniards won 1 League Cup, 2 UEFA Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 3 Intercontinental Cups. Still, they can claim some excuses, because they are three years younger than Barcelona, which was founded in 1899. Real was born in 1902, but their problem stands in the last couple of years, when their rivals won 13 distinctions and they only achieved…one! So, if we have made this classification in the summer of 2008, we had seen a Real Madrid with 73 trophies and a Barcelona with just 65!
6. FC Porto – 70 trophies
– an identical situation like in Spain happens over this country’s borders, in Portugal. In the last 10 years the forces changed here dramatically. In 2000, Lisbon dominated Portuguese football thanks to Benfica, which won a total of 61 titles. Then, Porto had ‘only’ 46 (!), but during only 11 years, FC won another 24, just to reach 70! From all of those, four were international titles and the last one was won in 2011. In the first years of this decade, at Porto a legendary man was involved: Jose Mourinho. He constructed a powerful team that went on playing well many years after he left. In the last season another brilliant coach made great performances there, and his name is Andre Villas Boas, a man for who Chelsea pay a clause of 15 million Euros (!!!), to have him on its bench. In the last season Porto were unbeaten in the League and won the Europe League and part of those performances should be awarded to a Romanian: Cristian Săpunaru, the right defender about which Pep Guardiola said “that makes all Porto’s game”. A crazy guy, that after winning the Europe League appeared on the field with a scarf that had the official signs of Rapid, the team which he loves the most!
7. Benfica Lisbon – 68 trophies
– it is said that the Portuguese have more than 40 million fans all around the World. This doesn’t mean that Benfica is the most loved team in the World, but they surely have the most socios. Around 150.000 fans support the squad every year with different amounts of money, even though Benfica doesn’t have very good results in recent years. Despite all of these problems, Benfica still held two records: the most Championships won (32 times) and the most domestic Cups won (27 times). Also, the squad from the capital achieved three League Cups, a trophy that Porto didn’t take one single time. The big difference between the two teams is generated by the gap generated by the Portuguese Super Cup: Benfica only won it in four occasions, meanwhile Porto obtained the trophy 18 times!
8. Olympiacos Piraeus – 66 trophies
– founded in 1925, the Greeks didn’t manage to play at least a semifinal of a European competition, but they are the first team from their country to appear in Europe. Even though Panathinaikos played once in the European Cup final, Olympiacos remains the squad from Greece with the most matches in Europe. And to prove that they are really are the best from their country they won until today 38 titles, 24 Cups and 4 Super Cups. ‘Oly’ is a constant presence in the Champions’ League group stage and is known to be one of the teams with the badly luck when it comes to qualifying in the knock-out stages. They came out in the last minutes a few time, but the most well known moments happened in 2004, when Liverpool made it through, thanks to a goal scored by Gerrard and in 2011, when Marseille won at Dortmund in the last seconds, after being led 2-0 in the first half.
9. Ajax Amsterdam – 65 trophies
– the Dutch are surely one of the most powerful teams in all the World and we must be proud that at this club one Romanian is seen to be one of the most important players of all time. Cristian Chivu played at Ajax in the early 2000s and helped the club from Amsterdam to won a couple of trophies. In total, the Dutch side gathered 30 national titles (record), 18 domestic Cups (record) and 7 Super Cups. Alongside these 55 internal distinctions, Ajax brought also 10 international Cups, from which 4 European Cups (last in 1995), 2 UEFA Super Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 Cup Winners’ Cup. With all these trophies brought since 1917 (the club was established in 1900), Ajax became the only team in Europe to win all the continental trophies at least once.
10. Manchester United – 60 trophies
– the gap of five seems to be enormous at this level, but I can’t complete a top without reminding something about Manchester United, or to be more precise about Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scotish coach trains the ‘Red Devils’ for 25 years now, period in which the club founded in 1878, won 37 Cups, which mean more than a half from its entire history! The 19th title achieved last year transformed United in the English team with the most national titles, one ahead of Liverpool, squad which didn’t tasted the success anymore, since 1990! Also, Manchester United holds the record of the most FA Cups won (11) as well as the most Super Cups achieved (19). Along these, ‘The Red Devils’ won 4 League Cups and 7 international trophies, from which the most important are the 3 European Champions Cup/League (two less than Liverpool). The table is complited by a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup, both in 1991 as well as an Intercontinental Cup in 1999 and a FIFA World Clubs Cup in 2008.
11. Shamrock Rovers – 60 trophies
– usually, when two teams have the same number of points, trophies or other such successes you should put them on the same spot, but now, to compare United with Shamrock may be taken as a blasphemy. Which of you heard of Rovers? Very few, I bet. Well, that doesn’t surprise me, because this is the second unknown team from the classification, after the second position Linfield. Shamrock comes from Dublin, the capital of Ireland, and it was founded in 1901. In 2011, after 110 years, they managed the biggest performance in Europe, from all Irish teams: Shamrock put out Partizan Beograd, with 2-1, after extra-time, in Europe League’s play-off and became the first team from the country to ever play in the group stage of any continental competition. Unfortunately, here, Rovers lost all six games. Considering all of these above, it’s easy to understand that Shamrock didn’t was even close to won a single international trophy, but manage however to obtain 17 league titles, 24 national cups, 18 Super Cups and 1 League Cup, numbers that permit them to complete this select top of important European squads.