Only 22 clubs have won the tournament over the last 65 years. Celtic, Hamburg, Marseille, Steaua Bucharest, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Aston Villa, PSV, Red Star Belgrade and Feyenoord have all triumphed on a single occasion, leaving just 12 teams who have emerged victorious twice or more. Here is that dozen.
12. Nottingham Forest (2)
It is still remarkable to see Forest’s name on a list that is otherwise made up of clubs who are heavyweights within their own country.
The provincial outfit won back-to-back European Cups under the genius management of Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980, meaning Forest have won the tournament in two of the three seasons in which they have participated in it.
11. Benfica (2)
Benfica are another club who won the European Cup two years in a row, triumphing in 1961 and 1962. They beat Barcelona 3-2 to be crowned champions in the first of those years, then overcame Real Madrid 5-3 in one of the most entertaining finals of all time.
Bela Guttman was the manager for both successes, but when he left the club in acrimonious circumstances he supposedly put a curse on Benfica, declaring they would not win another European trophy for 100 years. They have since lost eight – and won zero – continental finals.
Benfica’s Portuguese rivals have also been crowned kings of the continent on two occasions. Their first victory came in 1987, when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in the final.
Porto’s most famous European triumph came 17 years later, under the guidance of one Jose Mourinho. A 3-0 victory over Monaco in the final brought them the trophy in 2004 and led Mourinho, a few weeks later, to anoint himself the “Special One”.
9. Juventus (2)
Given that Juventus have dominated Italian football for much of their history, winning a total of 36 Serie A titles, their record in Europe leaves a lot to be desired.
The Bianconeri have won the Champions League on just two occasions, defeating Liverpool in the 1985 final and Ajax in the showpiece 11 years later. They have finished as runners-up a record seven times, most recently in 2017.
8. Manchester United (3)
Like Juventus, Manchester United has won more domestic titles than any of its rivals but has perhaps not triumphed in Europe as often as it should have done.
Matt Busby delivered the club’s first continental success in 1968, just 10 years after the Munich air disaster, while Alex Ferguson got his hands on the trophy in 1999 and 2008. United then reached two of the next three finals but lost to Barcelona on both occasions.
Inter became the first Italian team to win back-to-back European Cups when they held off the competition to win the tournament in 1964 and 1965. Helenio Herrera’s catenaccio tactics were unpopular but even Inter’s biggest critics could not deny it was successful.
Inter then had to wait 45 years before they secured their European hat-trick. Jose Mourinho was the man in charge when they won the tournament in 2010.
6. Ajax (4)
A young Ajax side thrilled the continent when they reached the semi-finals in 2018/19, but that was not the club’s greatest achievement in the Champions League.
Indeed, the Dutch side have won the tournament four times. Johan Cruyff was their star man when they claimed the prize in 1971, 1972 and 1973, before Louis van Gaal oversaw their most recent success in 1995.
5. Barcelona (5)
It may surprise younger readers to learn that Barcelona had not won a single European Cup prior to the 1990s.
They finally broke their duck in 1992 and have been one of the competition’s most successful teams in the 21st century, winning twice under Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011 and also going all the way in 2006 and 2015.
4. Bayern Munich (5)
The most successful German team both in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, Bayern are the only representatives from their country who have won the competition more than once.
Their first victory came back in 1974, which was the first of three triumphs in three years as Bayern established themselves as the undisputed kings of Europe. More recently, they came out on top in 2001 and 2013.
3. Liverpool (6)
Liverpool are the reigning Champions League holders after their 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in last year’s final. They also won the competition in 2005, coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Milan before winning the penalty shoot-out.
Liverpool’s best era in European competition came between 1977 and 1984, when they lifted the trophy on four occasions. The Reds have also reached the final another three times.
2. Milan (7)
Milan were the first Italian team to win the European Cup, as they broke Real Madrid and Benfica’s stranglehold by triumphing in 1963. They won another edition before the decade was out, before further victories under Arrigo Sacchi in 1989 and 1990.
Milan have also been successful in the Champions League era. They thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 final, then beat Juventus and Liverpool to the prize in 2003 and 2007 respectively.
1. Real Madrid (13)
Madrid are by far and away the most successful team in Champions League history. They dominated the competition in its early years, winning five tournaments on the bounce, but they would still be No.1 even without those triumphs between 1955 and 1960.
Madrid have been hugely successful in the last decade, emerging victorious in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. They also scooped the gong in 1966, 1998, 2000 and 2002.