Most Champions League wins: Europe’s most successful teams
Most Champions League wins: Europe’s most successful teams

Most Champions League wins: Europe’s most successful teams

The Champions League is the premier competition in European football and winning it is the ultimate prize for the cream of the clubs across the continent.

Commonly known as the European Cup from its introduction in 1955 until it was rebranded in 1992, qualifying for the Champions League alone is an achievement – but winning it is the pinnacle of club football in Europe.

Here we look at the teams with the most Champions League wins in the history of the competition:

Real Madrid – 14

The team with by far the most Champions League wins in history is Real Madrid, with the Spanish giants having won the competition twice as often as the next best team.

Madrid won the first five European Cup finals and featured in eight of the first 11, winning a sixth title in 1966, although they then had to wait until 1998 before adding to their tally.

They also won the competition for three years in a row from 2016-2018 with Zinedine Zidane in charge.

Their most recent success came in 2022 via a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at the Stade de France, which made Carlo Ancelotti the most successful manager in Champions League history with four titles.

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AC Milan – 7

Milan are another team with a proud European record and are the most successful Italian team in Champions League history.

Their first triumph was against Benfica at Wembley in 1963, when they fell behind to a Eusebio goal but battled back for a 2-1 win thanks to Jose Altafini’s second-half double.

Milan appeared in five out of seven finals from 1989-1995, winning three. They famously lost the 2005 final to Liverpool despite having been 3-0 up at half-time but Ancelotti’s team gained revenge two years later with a 2-1 victory over the Reds in Athens, which remains their last appearance in the showpiece match.

Liverpool – 6

Liverpool are the most successful English team in Champions League history, with their 2-0 victory over Tottenham in 2019 taking them to six European crowns.

They were the dominant force in Europe in the late 1970s and early 80s under Bob Paisley and his successor Joe Fagan, winning four finals in eight years, while they have also been runners-up on four occasions.

The Reds ended a 21-year wait for a fifth triumph with their stunning comeback in 2005, which saw Rafael Benitez’s men beat AC Milan on penalties, a final which was nicknamed by fans as ‘the miracle of Istanbul’.

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Bayern Munich – 6

Bayern were the third team in Champions League history to win the competition for three successive years in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

The 1974 final was the only European Cup final to have needed a replay, with their first meeting against Atletico Madrid at Heysel ending 1-1 before Bayern won the rematch two days later 4-0.

Bayern beat Leeds in controversial circumstances in 1975 and Saint-Etienne in 1976 but had to wait until 2001 for a fourth title.

The Bundesliga giants also beat Borussia Dortmund in an all-German final at Wembley in 2013 and denied PSG a maiden Champions League crown in 2020.

Barcelona – 5

Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the best footballers ever and won the Champions League three times with Barcelona in 2009, 2011 and 2015.

Barca also triumphed in 2006 and while Messi was with the Spanish club at the time, he was not in the squad that beat Arsenal in Paris.

The Catalans lost in the final in 1961 and 1986 before winning their first Champions League in 1992 thanks to an extra-time winner against Sampdoria from Ronald Koeman, with the team also including Pep Guardiola.

Ajax – 4

While much of Barcelona’s success involved Messi, Ajax’s proud European Cup history is synonymous with Johan Cruyff.

The Dutch legend was part of the team that beat Panathinaikos 2-0 at Wembley in 1971 and then scored both goals in the 1972 final as Ajax beat Inter Milan 2-0 in Rotterdam.

Cruyff was captain in 1973 as Ajax edged out Juventus 1-0 in Belgrade to complete a hat-trick of triumphs, while Ajax made it four European titles in 1995 when a team managed by Louis van Gaal beat AC Milan 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Patrick Kluivert.

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Manchester United – 3

Manchester United lead the way for English titles with 20 but trail Liverpool when it comes to most Champions League wins with only three.

Their record in the competition may have been better had it not been for the Munich air disaster in 1958, which killed eight players and ended the careers of two more from a team which had just beaten Red Star Belgrade in the quarter-finals.

United became the first English team to win the European Cup after a 4-1 extra-time victory over Benfica in 1968, with crash survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes part of the team.

The Red Devils also won the Champions League twice under Sir Alex Ferguson. In 1999, they famously scored twice in injury time to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 and then beat Chelsea on penalties in the 2008 showpiece.

Inter Milan – 3

Inter sit second for the Italian team with the most Champions League wins, having followed in the footsteps of AC Milan by winning their maiden title 12 months after their city rivals.

That was a 3-1 victory over Real Madrid and Inter retained their crown with a 1-0 win against Benfica in a final which was hosted at their own San Siro stadium.

The Nerazzurri were the second team to win the European Cup at their own ground following Real Madrid’s success at the Bernabeu in 1957.

Jose Mourinho’s Inter then beat Bayern 2-0 in the 2010 final, which was the first to be held on a weekend.

Inter returned to the final in 2023 but were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in Istanbul.

Other British winners of the European Cup/Champions League

2 – Chelsea (2012, 2021), Nottingham Forest (1979, 1980)

1 – Celtic (1967), Aston Villa (1982), Manchester City (2023)

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