Top 20 Soccer Dynasties of All Time

Soccer has an illustrious history that has spanned over a century. Along the course of time, certain teams have come to be regarded as elite even when compared with other top clubs from different eras

Soccer has an illustrious history that has spanned over a century. Along the course of time, certain teams have come to be regarded as elite even when compared with other top clubs from different eras. Whether it is a club culture that drives success or the relentless work of the right manager at the right time, these teams dominated their respective eras against the best competition. With games being played on the global stage, these clubs have risen above the rest to be considered the best teams of all time.

Winning is not necessarily the only requirement for being considered a soccer dynasty. Many of these teams have changed the course of soccer history with their tactical innovation and contributions to the beautiful game. These innovations have allowed teams to achieve success far beyond the normal scope of elite teams. Teams like Ajax and Brazil have driven the evolution of the sport of football and given the world some of the most beautiful displays of exemplary play.

When talent and vision combine on the football pitch, it can create a team atmosphere that allows players to succeed. This type of success can come in a window of time where these teams achieve more than any other in the world at that given time. When this happens, it is generally recognized in the football community that these are special teams worthy of praise. These teams have been on the cutting edge of football and found the greatness that so many others have failed to achieve. They have earned the right to be considered champions.

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20 Chelsea 2003-2012

Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports

Chelsea turned the tide of world football when Roman Abramovich became involved as the owner of the club. He revolutionized the way money was spent in football and paid for a squad assembled by the expert influence of Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho. John Terry and Frank Lampard provided the core along with big money transfers like Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, and Ashley Cole. The team would go on to win a total of ten trophies including three Premier League titles and the 2012 UEFA Champions League title. The revolving cast of managers was buoyed by an indomitable squad that gave birth to the phrase “parking the bus.”

19 Juventus 1980-86


The Giovanni Trapattoni era ushered in a time of success for Juventus after he joined them from rivals Milan. During this era, Trapatoni led a star-studded squad consisting of Michel Platini, Paolo Rossi, and Marco Tardelli to four Serie A titles along with victories in every European competition over his tenure. They remain the only club to have won every competition possible. The club also had to deal with the backlash following the tragedy of the Heysel Stadium, where 39 were killed and hundreds more were injured.

18 Inter Milan 1962-66


Helenio Herrera joined Inter Milan in 1960 and immediately began transforming the squad. He brought along his protégé from Barcelona, Luis Suarez (not that Luiz Suarez), who was at the time the world’s most expensive player. Suarez served as the midfield playmaker, while Tarcisio Burgnich and Giancito Facchetti launched counterattacks from their fullback positions. The club went on to win three Serie A titles, consecutive European Cups in 1964 and 1965, and the Intercontinental Cup in 1964 and 1965.

17 Bayern Munich 1971-1976


Franz Beckenbauer led Bayern Munich from his central defense position and is credited with being one of the best defenders of all-time. During the club’s most dominant period, they won three consecutive European Cups and were the German champions on three occasions. Der Kaiser played alongside greats like Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier, and the trio was referred to as "the axis." This group of players went on to define the club as it grew into a European giant.

16 Benfica 1959-65


Legendary manager Bela Guttmann helped Benfica arrive on the international football scene. Eusebio was the leader on the pitch and became an iconic figure for the club, as they won five Primeira League titles and consecutive European Cups in 1961 and 1962. Benfica would appear in three more European Cup finals, but have fallen short in the final match. When Gutman left the club following a contract dispute after their last European Cup, he cursed them to never win another European trophy, which has held true to this day.

15 Celtic 1966-1974


Jock Stein is a magnificent name for a manager that brought the most successful stretch in club history to Celtic FC. The club won nine Scottish League Championships in nine seasons in one of the most dominant stretches in the history of the competition. They also won five Scottish League cups and a European Cup in 1967 to add continental success to their domestic dominance. They are one of only two clubs to achieve their success with an entirely homegrown squad that consisted of players born within 30 miles of Celtic Park. This group of legends is affectionately referred to as the Lisbon Lions, for the courage they displayed during the 1967 European Cup Final.

14 Rangers 1988-1997


Rangers achieved a feat only matched by Celtic in Scottish League history, when they won nine consecutive League titles from 1989 to 1997. Graeme Souness began the run as manager of the first three triumphs, while the remaining six were achieved under the leadership of Walter Smith. Ally McCoist won the European Golden Shoe in 1992 and 1993 as the continent’s top goal scorer, and he was vital figure in most of those league titles. Paul Gascoinge and Brian Laudrup were important figures during the final years of one of the most dominant teams of all time.

13 Santos 1955-70


In the long and storied history of Brazilian football, perhaps no team has achieved more than Santos did from 1955 to 1970. Os Santasticos were a collection of Brazilian superstars led by the greatest player of all time Pele. Pele joined the team in 1957 and helped them win five consecutive Campenato Serie A titles. They would win the Campeonato Paulista title eleven times and two Copa Libertatores titles during the period. Pele was flanked by fellow stars Zito, Coutinho, and Dorval as they routinely dispatched opponents and lifted 24 trophies over the better part of two decades.

12 Brazil 1998-2002


Joga Bonita was taken to a new level by the Brazilian squad that dazzled the world from 1998 to 2002. After a second place finish in the 1998 World Cup where they lost to hosts France in the Final, Brazil returned with a vengeance. Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho helped Brazil take their game to a higher level when they won the first World Cup hosted in Asia in 2002.  The defense featured Cafu and the stunning free-kick talents of Roberto Carlos. The 2002 Selecao was truly a star-studded squad.

11 Nottingham Forest 1977-1980


Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest team is a perfect example of what a football team can achieve under the guidance of a truly expert manager. After brining Forest from the Second division to the First Division with assistant Peter Taylor, Clough went on to a period of success never again achieved by an European club. Clough assembled a team that won back-to-back European Cups, the 1977-78 Premier League title, and back-to-back League Cups in 1978 and 1979. Although he never won the elusive FA Cup, Clough is affectionately remembered as one of football’s greatest personalities.

10 AC Milan 1988-1994


Shortly after Silvio Berlusconi took over the club as owner in 1986, they won their first Serie A title in nine years in 1988. Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard were all brought to the club to boost the team’s attacking prowess. Their defense was anchored by the emerging talent Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni, and Franco Baresi. They went on to win three consecutive Scudettos from 1992 to 1994 and won three European Cups in 1989, 1990, and 1994. The work started by Arrigo Sacchi was completed by Fabio Capello, and the team is remembered as one of the most successful in the club’s illustrious history.

9 Ajax 1969-73


Ajax is credited with being the institution that developed the concept known as Total Football. The process began in 1965 with the appointment of manager Rinus Michels and was demonstrated through talented players like Johan Cruyff. Cruyff is widely regarded as the greatest Dutch footballer of all time, and he helped the club win three consecutive European Cups from 1971 to 1973. During this time, they also won three Eredivisie titles and three KNVB Cups.

8 Italy 1934-1938


The Italian National Football team declined an invitation for the first World Cup in 1930. When they finally joined the competition in 1934, they quickly proved their dominance by winning the next two tournaments. Giuseppe Meazza was the captain and leader of the Azzurri and played in every match of both World Cup runs. Meazza accomplished this fantastic feat in 1938 in the midst of receiving a threatening telegram from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini which read “Win or Die!.”

7 Boca Juniors 1998-2008


Boca Juniors achieved one of their greatest periods of success during the last two decades. They have a reputation for player loyalty, which has been demonstrated by several players including Juan Roman Riquelme, Martin Palermo, and Hugo Ibarra who all played multiple stints with the club. The club has produced talents like Carlos Tevez, Rodrigo Palacio, and Fernando Gago while winning seven Premier Division titles, four Copa Libertadores, and two Copa Sudamericanas.

6 Barcelona 2008-2013


For a five year period, it wasn’t very hard to argue that Pep Guardiola had helped build the most dominant squad in the world. Guardiola’s tiki-taka style had the perfect group of players to compliment his technical demands. The quick and accurate passing of Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta unraveled opposing defenses and allowed Barcelona to flourish behind one of the most prolific offenses of all-time. Carles Puyol, Dani Alves, and Gerard Pique anchored a defense capable of overwhelming even the best opposing attacks. Barcelona won four La Liga titles, two UEFA Champions League titles, and two Copa del Ray trophies.

5 Liverpool 1975-1990


Liverpool filled their trophy room from 1975 to 1990 when they won ten First Division titles and four European Cups to go along with two FA Cups and four League cups. Their success began in 1975 with a Double that included a UEFA Cup and a First Division title. Their Double was a feat they repeated seven more times during the period. The club also survived two tragedies at Heysel Stadium and Hillsborough, which cost the lives of many supporters. Through it all, Liverpool stood by the club’s anthem of “You’ll never walk alone.”

4 Manchester United 1992-2013


Sir Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager in the history of football thanks to his efforts at Manchester United. His rotating cast of superstars included David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Phil Neville, and Wayne Rooney, among others. No player was ever bigger than the club, and that was routinely displayed during his tenure, which saw Manchester United win thirteen Premier League titles. They also won two UEFA Champions League titles and had six seasons in which they won multiple major competitions.

3 Real Madrid 1955-70


Real Madrid was the most dominant club in Europe for the better part of two decades. From 1955 to 1970, Madrid won eleven La Liga titles in fifteen seasons and rattled off five consecutive European Championship titles from 1956 to 1960. They won another European Championship 1965-66, driven by strikers Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano, an Argentine import who went on to become a club legend after joining them in 1953. Club president Santiago Bernabeu Yeste was responsible for the revolutionary approach of signing foreign players and is also credited with creating La Fabrica, the club’s famed youth academy. Real Madrid’s stadium is now named the Santiago Bernabeu in his honor.

2 Spain 2008-2012


The greatness of two giant Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, combined under the La Roja banner to create a very special football team. Vicente Del Bosque’s team became the first to win three consecutive major tournaments when Spain won the 2008 European Championship, the 2010 World Cup, and the 2012 European Championship. Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta. Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas are just a few of the legends that brought unprecedented success to Spain. The club played tiki-taka football at the highest level and bested the top squads in the world routinely during this period of dominance.

1 Brazil 1958-72


When Vicente Feola took over the Selecao, he demanded more of his players than any other manager in Brazil’s history. His strict discipline was partnered with a superstar laden squad that was unprecedented in world football. Under Feola’s guidance, Garrincha, Pele, and Zito played some of the most beautiful football the world had ever seen. They won back-to-back World Cups in 1958 and 1962, with Feola at the helm for the first one, before winning a third in 1970. The team was also a focal point of inspiration for the country as it struggled to adjust to living life under a military dictatorship.

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Top 20 Soccer Dynasties of All Time