Four Four Two magazine just released their list of the top 20 greatest club sides ever. To help take a walk down memory lane, or to revisit these wonderful teams, we’ve incorporated video footage of each club.
Here’s our guide to bring you up-to-date with some of the most successful teams in world history.
20. Nottingham Forest 1977-1980
The Nottingham Forest side of 1977-80 was something special. You know you’ve got a good team when Peter Shilton is between the sticks, and his team-mates were aware of his presence too. Shilton picked up the PFA Players’ Player of the Season Award in the 1977-78 campaign. One of Shilton’s team-mates was John Robertson, a player who had two spells with the club. Arguably, his most memorable moment was scoring in the European Cup Final in 1980, the second time in consecutive years. One of the most successful individuals at Forest during this period was Tony Woodcock, a player who won the Football League Championship, League Cup, FA Charity Shield, European Cup, European Super Cup and PFA Young Player of the Year, all in two seasons. Together these players shaped one of the most successful club teams ever.
19. Budapest Honved 1950-1955
Budapest Honvéd won the Hungarian league four times during the 1950s. These Honvéd players formed the backbone of the legendary Mighty Magyars, helping Hungary become Olympic Champions in 1952, Central European Champions in 1953, defeated England twice and reached the 1954 World Cup final. Forenc Puskas was one of those Mighty Magyars; he scored 352 goals in 341 matches for the club. Zoltán Czibor was another member of the Mighty Magyars, a forward who also played as a left-winger during the 1951-52 season, known for his finishing and excellent ball control.
18. Borussia Monchengladbach 1970-1979
The golden decade for Borussia came in the 1970s, with a new attacking philosophy that triggered enormous success for the club. The side won consecutive titles from 1975 to 1977 and were extremely close to winning the 1977 European Cup until Liverpool beat them in the final. Borussia also made four appearances in UEFA Cup finals, winning two, but losing the other. The triumphant team went on to win eight trophies in their successful spell making them a fantastic side to watch.
17. Preston North End 1888-89
The 1888-89 season was a memorable one for Preston North End and their history, labeled as the ‘invincibles’; they won the league and cup double without being defeated. John Goodall was at the heart of this success, scoring 22 goals in the process as they stacked up 40 points to win the title (12 teams in the league). This was Preston North End’s first season in the Football League as they had just been founded.
16. Boca Juniors 1998-2003
It could be said that Boca Juniors have had a number of ‘golden ages’, but the golden age that stands out has to be the Bianchi era. Carlos Bianchi arrived at the club in 1998 and aimed to break records of multiple local and international titles, and with Bianchi, Boca won nine titles. The star players from this era were Juan Riquelme, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Hugo Ibarra, Nicolas Burdisso and Martin Palermo, who is the club’s top scorer of all time.
15. FC Dynamo Kiev 1985-87
Dynamo Kiev had a fantastic short period in their history between 1985-87. The club picked up two Ukrainian Cups, two Ukrainian Super Cups, two Ukrainian Premier Leagues, and the UEFA Cup. These honurs did not appear from lucky performances, some memorable players graced the pitch at the club, including Oleg Blokhin – the club’s top goal scorer & most appearances of all time, Igor Belanov and Oleh Kuznetsov were just three of them.
14. Juventus 1980-86
The Trapattoni-era was highly successful in the 1980s for Juventus; the club started the decade off well, winning the league title three more times by 1984. This meant Juventus had won 20 Italian league titles and were allowed to add a second golden star to their shirt, thus becoming the only Italian club to achieve this. Around this time the club’s players were attracting considerable attention; Paolo Rossi was named European Footballer of the Year following his contribution to Italy’s victory in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, where he was named player of the tournament.
Liam Brady, Claudio Gentile, Dino Zoff and Marco Tardelli were other members of the successful Juve side, but standout-Frenchman Michel Platini was awarded the European Footballer of the Year title for three years in a row; 1983, 1984 and 1985, which is a record. Juventus are the only club to have players from their club winning the award in four consecutive years. Indeed it was Platini who scored the winning goal in the 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool, however this was marred by a tragedy, which changed European football. That year, Juventus became the first club in the history of European football to have won all three major UEFA competitions and, after their triumph in the Intercontinental Cup, the club also became the first in association football history—and remain the world’s only one at present—to have won all possible confederation competitions and the club world title. But with the exception of winning the closely contested Italian Championship of 1985–86, the rest of the 1980s were not very successful for the club.
13. Independiente 1971-75
The 70s were Independiente’s golden era, having won 12 important titles including: Metropolitano, Nacional, Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup, and Copa Intermericana all within eight years. The team became famous in themselves by being able to field Daniel Bertoni and Ricardo Bochini together. The pair both played in an offensive role and were hugely successful as they won several titles. Not only were Independiente successful in the 70s for their offensive style of play, but they were also sound defensively. Miguel Lopez was a player from the golden era who played centre-back for the side, playing 168 games in just four years at the club. Lopez became one of the biggest idols in the history of Independiente. Miguel Raimondo was another player involved, a midfielder who won numerous individual trophies alongside eight titles with Indepeniente. Together these players shaped the golden era for a club with so much successful history.
12. Manchester United 1995-2001
It was an end of an era when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013, and with so many memories to cherish for United fans, surely one of those periods has to be the success at Old Trafford from 1995-2001. With Peter Schmeichel between the sticks, Roy Keane in the middle of the park and David Beckham on the wing, United had a side that any team was in awe of. The season of 1998-99 saw Ferguson’s side win the treble, the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. United then went on to win three consecutive league titles before going a trophy-less season in 2001-02. Between these successful six years, Andy Cole scored an impressive 93 goals in 195 games for the Red Devils. The striker played alongside Dwight Yorke, who managed to net 48 goals in just 96 matches. The team also consisted of players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona.
11. Celtic 1965-1974
The Celtic side from 1965, led by Jock Stein, broke a world record by winning nine straight Scottish league titles from 1966-74, the world record was not equaled until 1997. Furthermore, the club won every single competition they entered in 1967, winning the Scottish League, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the Glasgow Cup and the European Cup. Celtic remain the only Scottish side to have reached the final of the competition and players were named the ‘Lisbon Lions’. Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch formed part of the famous team and now rank among the greatest ever Celtic players. Celtic continued to reach finals such as the Intercontinental Cup and the European Cup final, but failed to win either.
10. Torino 1945-49
‘The Great Torino’ were widely considered the best ever team in Italian football history, as they won five straight Italian league championships led by their captain, Valentino Mazzola. The huge success ended in huge disappointment and sadness as all but one player (who was out for an injury) of the side were killed when their plan crashed into the hills of Superga in the outskirts of Turin. Some of the talented team were: Guiseppe Grezar, Guglielmo Gabetto, Mario Rigamonti, Virgilio Maroso and Ezio Loik. The club never recovered after a decade of mediocre seasons, and were eventually relegated to Serie B in 1958-59.
9. Bayern Munich 1967-76
Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, and Gerd Muller helped Bayern Munich win the UEFA Champions League three times in a row in 1974, 1975, and 1976 and many other trophies, including the German league title, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup. Bayern won their third German championship in a row in the 1973-74 season. Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeness, Gerg Muller and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – who contributed 162 goals in 310 games for the club, were all part of the successful Bayern side.
8. Benfica 1960-70
Benfica entered the golden era in the 60s as one of the best teams in Europe, they were the first team to end Real Madrid’s dominance in European Champions’ Cup by winning two consecutive European Cups against FC Barcelona in 1961, and Real Madrid in 1962. Benfica reach three other European Cup finals during the 60s, but lost all three (1963, 1965 and 1968). Eusébio, an all-time footballing great who was a Portuguese forward, was at the heart of the successful Benfica team during the 1960s, which was the club’s most successful period in the club’s history. Benfica had won eight Portuguese Championships and two European Champions Cups. Other than Eusébio, Costa Periera, Joaquim, Santana, Jose Aguas and Coluna were also star players for this successful Benfica team.
7. Santos 1955-1968
Santos were so successful during this era that they were nicknames The Santastics. The side won a total of 25 titles between 1959 to 1974, including two Copa Livertadores. Furthermore, over 3000 goals were scored by The Santastics during this period, as they were often considered one of the strongest teams ever assembled in any sport. Gilmar, Mauro, Mengalvio, Coutinho, Pepe and the iconic Pele were all part of the Brazilian side. In 1962, Santos recorded their most successful season, winning the first treble in the world. The club then won the Campeonato Paulista in 1967, 1968 and 1969, before Pele scored his 1000th goal in all competitions for Santos during a match against Vasco de Gama.
6. Inter Milan 1962-1967
Helenio Herrera joined the club and immediately had an effect, he changed the formation to 5-3-2 which included larger flexibility for counterattacks. The side finished third in Serie A after his first season, and second he next. The following year Inter won the title, before following back-to-back European Cup victories in 1964 and 1965. Herrera was labeled ‘Il Mago’, which meant ‘the magician’. The code of his team was the fullbacks Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti, Armando Picchi the sweeper, Luis Suarez the playmaker, Jair the winger, Mario Corso the midfielder, and Sandro Mazzola who played the inside-right.
In 1964, Internazionale reached the final by beating Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals, in the final, they met Real Madrid – A team that had reached seven out of the nine finals to date. It was Sandro Mazzola who stole the show by scoring two goals in a 3-1 victory. Inter then won the Intercontinental Cup, before repeating the feat by beating SL Benfica in the final held at home. Again, Internazionale won the Intercontinental Cup, but then in 1967 Jair was gone. Suarez was injured and missed the final and consequently lost the final.
5. Liverpool 1962-1967
Having been promoted back into the First Division in 1962, Liverpool won the title in 1964 for the first time in 17 years. In 1965, the club won its first FA Cup and in 1966 the club won the First Division but lost to Borussia Dortmund in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final. The Reds then won both the league and the UEFA Cup during the 1972-73 season, and the FA Cup again a year later. The successful team during this era consisted of Ian Rush – Record Liverpool goalscorer with 346 goals, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness.
4. Barcelona 2008-2011
Like Manchester United parting ways with Sir Alex Ferguson, Barcelona have also seen the end of an era in the past year or two. Pep Guardiola spent over four years at Barcelona as he brought his tiki-taka style of play he had been taught in his time with the Barca youth teams. Guardiola sold two of the best players in the world at the time, in Ronaldinho and Deco, before he started to build the Barcelona team around Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Under Guardiola, Barcelona have won the Copa Del Rey for a record-breaking 25th time. In the 2008-09 season, the team had beaten Manchester United to win their third Champions League title and completed the first ever treble won by a Spanish side, they then went on to win the UEFA Super Cup 2009. The same year, Barcelona won the FIFA Club World Cup and became the first football club ever to accomplish the sextuple. They then went on to accomplish two new records in Spanish football in 2010 as they retained the La Liga trophy with 99 points and won the Spanish Super Cup trophy for the ninth time.
After beating Real Madrid 5-0 in El Clasico, Barcelona retained the La Liga trophy, their third title in succession, finishing with 96 points. In May 2011, Barcelona also beat Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League Final 3-1 at Wembley Stadium.
Barcelona continue to be triumphant following Guardiola’s departure due to the legacy from his success. Leionel Messi is constantly talked-about as being the best footballer in the world, the four-time FIFA/Ballon d’Or winner in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and FC Barcelona’s top goalscorer. Amongst Messi, David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are other players who were, and still are, part of the successful Barcelona team.
3. Real Madrid 1955-1960
Between 1956 and 1960, Real Madrid won the European Cup five times in a row, and they continued to earn the right to wear the UEFA badge of honour. They then won the European Cup for a sixth time in 1966 before continuing their success in the 70s. Real Madrid won five league championships and three Spanish Cups, finalizing a fantastic successive period in the club’s history
2. A.C. Milan 1987-1991
A.C. Milan have one of the biggest reputations in world football, and this is probably due to the successful team the club had from 1987-1991. A team consisting of players like: Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Carlo Ancelotti, Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Costacurta, Roberto Donadoni, Paolo Maldini won its first Scudetto in nine years in the 1987-88 season. The following year the club won its first European Cup in two decades, before retaining their title a year later and the side still remain the last team to win back-to-back European Cups. The Milan team of 1989-90 has been voted the best club side of all time, in global poll of experts conducted by World Soccer magazine.
1. Ajax 1965-1973
In 1966 and 1967, Ajax won the championship by scoring a record breaking 122 goals including 33 from Johan Cruijff, and again in 1968, whilst reaching the European Cup final of 1969 against A.C. Milan. Ajax then won the Dutch league championship in 1969-70 after winning 27 out of 34 games and scoring 100 goals. The following year, Ajax won the European Cup after beating Panathinaikos 2-0 a season before they won the treble. After winning the European Cup, Dutch National Championship and the KNVB Cup, Ajax won a third consecutive European Cup and another Dutch championship. The successful period had to come to an end though, when Johan Cruijff left for FC Barcelona in 1973.