For the biggest clubs in Europe what truly defines a successful season is having a European Trophy to put in the cabinet and parade for the fans. It’s those hot, sweaty, tense nights in European finals where legends are built. There are some legendary clubs who have been serial winners in Europe for decades. Only one club, though, has ever won all 4 major European trophies twice.
Which team has won all European trophies twice? When Chelsea F.C clinched the 2021 European Champions League and Super Cup double they became the first and only club in Europe to win all 4 major European trophies twice. Chelsea have now won the UEFA Champions League/European Cup (2012 & 2021), UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup (2013 & 2019), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1971 & 1998) and the UEFA Super Cup (1998 & 2021). They have not won any European trophies 3 times.
Having any success that stands out as singular amongst the historically great sides of Europe like Real Madrid, Manchester United, AC Milan and Bayern Munich is something to be proud of. But just how special is Chelsea’s achievement of being the only side to win all the major European trophies twice?
What are the major European Soccer Trophies?
The UEFA Champions League/European Cup, UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup are generally regarded as the most prestigious club competitions in European Soccer.
They form a very clear hierarchy which is important to understand, as teams cannot compete in them all every season. Typically a team will only qualify to play in one of them.
The UEFA Champions League is the holy grail. Started for the 1955-56 season with Real Madrid crowned as winners, it was formerly known as the European Cup; its name was changed to the Champions League for the 1992/93 season. The format has been tweaked over the years, with a total of 78 clubs entering in 2022/23. Each UEFA nation has a different number and level of qualifying spots, which are usually assigned by finishing position in the domestic leagues. Some teams will go straight into the first round draw, while some will have to play a further qualifying stage. Qualifying begins in the summer with three rounds and then a play-off taking place before 32 teams begin the group stage starting in September each year.
The UEFA Europa League is the second tier European Competition. Formerly known as the UEFA Cup, it was introduced for the 1971/72 season with Tottenham Hotspur being crowned champions. Ahead of the 2009/10 season, the competition was rebranded as the UEFA Europa League to raise its profile. Teams qualify in a similar way to the Champions League, with lower league spots and domestic cup winners being assigned qualifying positions. The format of the tournament is complex with many qualifying and sub-qualifying rounds and over 100 teams being part of it. Midway through there is even a backdoor for teams who have been knocked out of the Champions League before the knockout rounds to drop into the Europa League. Ultimately winning it is a massive achievement, but you don’t usually have to go through the best clubs in Europe to do so as they are competing for the Champions League.
The UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup was the third tier European Competition.The first tournament was held in 1960–61, but was not recognised by the governing body of European football until 1963. The competition’s official name was originally the European Cup Winners’ Cup; it was renamed the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. It existed from its inception in 1960 to the arrival of the UEFA Cup in 1971 as the secondary European competition to the European Cup (now UCL). It was disbanded after the 1999 final which saw Italy’s Lazio defeat Mallorca of Spain 2-1.
The UEFA Super Cup was started in 1972 when the winner of the Cup Winners Cup progressed to play the winner of the European Cup (now UCL) in a 1 time winner takes all early season match. Since the abolition of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999, the UEFA Super Cup has been contested between the winners of the Europa League and the winners of the Champions League.
Who has won the most European Trophies?
Real Madrid have won the most European Trophies. They have won as many Champions Leagues alone (14) as AC Milan and Barcelona have won total European Trophies (14 each). When you add in Madrid’s 2 UEFA Cups and 5 Super Cup wins their 21 trophy total is absolutely gargantuan. They truly are the kings of European Soccer, both past, present and (probably) future.
Table showing the spread of European Trophies amongst the serial winners:
What teams have won all the European Trophies?
Only 5 teams have won all 4 major European trophies.Including Chelsea who have won each trophy twice, the other 4 sides are:
Ajax UEFA Champions League (1971, 1972, 1973, 1995), UEFA Europa League (1992), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1987) and the UEFA Super Cup (1973, 1995).
Bayern Munich UEFA Champions League (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013), UEFA Europa League (1996), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1967) and the UEFA Super Cup (2013).
Juventus UEFA Champions League (1985, 1996), UEFA Europa League (1977, 1990, 1993), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1984) and the UEFA Super Cup (1984, 1996).
Manchester United UEFA Champions League (1968, 1999, 2008), UEFA Europa League (2017), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1991) and the UEFA Super Cup (1991)
The 4 biggest European winners have all ‘failed’ to capture all 4 major European trophies. Neither Madrid or Liverpool ever won the Cup Winners Cup before its 1999 demise. Maybe one day they will win the new Conference League and join the clubs who have won all the trophies. AC Milan and Barcelona have both so far failed to win the UEFA Cup.
However this is all a bit of a red herring as none of these clubs would be happy with a season that sees them forced to compete in the 2nd or 3rd tier European Competitions. Always gunning to qualify for and win the big prize, the UEFA Champions League. Something they hae done a combined 32 times.
Is the Conference League the same as the Cup Winners Cup?
Not exactly. The UEFA Conference League was started in the 2021/22 season with Roma being crowned the Champions. It was inspired by elements of the old Cup Winners Cup and the Intertoto Cup (RIP 1961-2008 ish). However and importantly, it does not carry over the winning records from either of those now defunct competitions. Currently Roma are the only winners, with a second winner set to be crowned at the end of the 2022/23 season.
This means that no more Cup Winners Cup champions can be crowned. So if a team hasn’t already won 2 Cup Winners Cups, then they have no chance of matching Chelsea’s record of winning every European Trophy twice.
Have Man City ever won a European Trophy?
Yes! Man City have won 1 European trophy. Way back in 1970 Manchester City won the European Cup Winners’ Cup defeating Polish side Górnik Zabrze 2-1 in Vienna.Featuring illustrious City names such as Joe Corrigan, Willie Donachie, Colin Bell, Stan Bowles, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee they had qualified for the competition by winning the FA Cup in 1969.