Some clubs are content living off their past. Others reminisce about a once-in-a-lifetime evening of glory, turning each player present into folk-heroes. 

A select few though define themselves by success. A season finishing runner-up in their league is a disaster for them. They want more trophies. More garlands. Year after year. Generation after generation.

Naturally enough, the established superpowers of world football feature strongly below but there are those too who are utterly dominant amongst inferior opposition. 

All have one thing in common in that they are the most successful football clubs on the planet. 

Most Successful Football Clubs In World:

20) FCSB – 59 

It was a High Commander of the Romanian Royal Army who signed off on the club formerly known as Steaua București first coming into existence. Moreover, their old ground used to be owned by the Ministry of National Defence. 
Steaua, back in the day, were the very definition of an establishment club. 
Yet, for all that they had Romanian football in a stranglehold for several decades, they also lifted the European Cup in 1986, additionally reaching the final again three years later. Their brilliance travelled.
In March a 27th league title was secured, their first for nine years. 

19) Galatasaray – 61

The Lions don’t have the jungle all to themselves in Turkey, with Fenerbahce and Besiktas big cats in their own right. This esteemed trio have historically divvied up the silverware and wrestled supremacy away from each other. 
Which makes Gala’s record 24 Super Lig titles all the more impressive while in recent years a string of successes in the Turkish Cup has helped bump up their overall trophy haul. 

18) Boca Juniors – 62 

Crowned national champions on 35 occasions, Boca have also lifted the Copa Libertadores on six occasions, the most recent of which was their 2007 triumph led by the irrepressible Juan Roman Riquelme. 
Boasting a historical edge over their bitter rivals River Plate – a rivalry that can get a little tasty at times – Boca are the most successful club in Argentina. 

17) Anderlecht – 64 

Champions of Belgium on 34 occasions, Anderlecht are by some distance the nation’s most celebrated team. They have translated their domestic glories into continental honours, too, with a pair of Cup Winners’ Cups and the UEFA Cup in 1983.
Only Club Brugge can better their total of nine Belgian Cup wins. 

16) Manchester United – 70 

Despite a decade-plus in the doldrums since Alex Ferguson hung up his hairdryer, Manchester United’s 20 league titles remains an English football record.
Their impressive FA Cup tally of 13 meanwhile stretches right back to 1909. Their latest cup success was in May, bettering their arch-neighbours City. 
The Red Devils have all-too-infrequently added to their trophy count since Ferguson’s retirement but the next manager to get things right at Old Trafford has history and stature on their side. 

15) Liverpool – 70 

The Jurgen Klopp era saw Liverpool add to an already bulky trophy collection, not least with another continental honour.
Only Real Madrid and Milan have won the European Cup/Champions League more.
A recent League Cup triumph had them briefly edge ahead of their arch-rivals United but we can expect the football odds to lengthen on the Reds securing a second Premier League title now that their highly influential German coach has bid auf weidersehen. 

14) Juventus – 72 

Already Italy’s most decorated club, Juventus embarked on a remarkable spell of dominance across the 2010s that extended their lead over the two Milan clubs. 
Feared and respected in equal moderation, the Old Lady is not to be trifled with when she has the scent of a Scudetto in her nostrils. 
Record holders for title wins and Coppa Italia triumphs, a lack of European silverware in recent years has become their Achilles Heel. 

13) Ajax – 75 

Not only are Ajax the Netherlands’ most dominant force, they’re a footballing institution, responsible for making the beautiful game that bit more picturesque. Few clubs have influenced the sport worldwide like de Godenzonen.
The 36 league titles and four European Cups speak for themselves but Ajax is far more than a trophy-winning machine. From the players that have developed at the club through to the tactical innovations of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff they helped change everything. 

12) Olympiacos – 82 

Olympiacos have relentlessly accumulated hardware throughout their history, and particularly so since the turn of the century.
Recent glory in the Europa Conference League was the first ever European honour for a Greek side, a famous night that amply atoned for finishing third in the league.
Such is their fearsome dominance of the Super League two seasons of falling short feels like a drought. 

11) Bayern Munich – 82 

Bayern Munich were already Germany’s big, bad wolf, but 10 straight Bundesliga titles and two Champions League wins in the last decade have seen them reach new heights. 
Trebles in 2013 and 2020 have represented a period of unprecedented supremacy for FC Hollywood. 
A trophy-less season this time out will no doubt see them return hungrier and scarier than ever before. 

10) Al-Faisaly SC – 83 

Winners of 18 more Jordanian league titles than any other club, Al-Faisaly SC have an absurd total of 81 domestic honours, including 21 FA Cup wins. 
The Blue Eagles are two-time AFC Cup winners, going back-to-back in the mid-noughties. 
The recent emergence of Al-Hussein Irbid has rendered them second best for the time being. They won’t take kindly to that. 

9) Porto – 84 

Defying the betting and all sensible logic, Porto famously lifted the Champions League in 2004, propelled to unlikely glory by a young and hungry Jose Mourinho. 
Let’s not forget though that in 1987, the Dragons equalled that feat, scoring two late goals to stun Bayern. There is also a brace of UEFA Cups up for consideration too. 
If all this proves Porto have genuine international presence it’s at home however where their trophy haul gets stratospheric. Thirty Primeira Liga crowns equates to a title for every four years of their existence. 

8) Benfica – 85

The Eagles have long soared over Portuguese football, a name synonymous with the great Eusebio and, in modern times, a clever recruitment policy that finds gems, polishes them up, and sells them on for huge profit.
Even back-to-back European Cup successes in the early Sixties pale to their domestic feats, with 38 Primeira Liga titles a testament to their lofty status. 

7) Barcelona – 99 

It has been nip and tuck between Barcelona and Real Madrid over the last few years but Barca have dropped off the pace lately, with no La Liga win since 2019. The Catalan giants went trophyless in 2021-22 and again this season just gone, with each disappointing year leading to a new tense face in the dug-out.
Financial problems have hardly helped their cause while the departure of Lionel Messi has been seismic. 
On the plus side, they changed football infinitely for the better by giving a stage to Cruyff, Maradona and of course the GOAT himself. 

6) Real Madrid – 108

Since the start of 2021-22, Los Blancos have won the Supercopa de España twiceover, two Champions Leagues, La Liga three years running, the Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. That glorious spell has seen them regain an overall advantage over Barcelona. 
Their total of 15 European Cups and Champions Leagues is a record no team comes within touching distance of. 

5) Penarol – 111 

Never relegated from Uruguay’s Primera Division in 132 years, the Decano are a mainstay of South American football, boasting five Copa Libertadores and three Intercontinental Cups. 
Winning their league title a staggering 53 times, Penarol are the only club to have players represent Uruguay across every one of their World Cup appearances. 

4) Celtic – 116 

Seven domestic trebles and 13 league and cup doubles tells a persuasive tale of long-standing superiority. A feted European Cup triumph in 1967 meanwhile not only greatly increased their standing on the world stage but was especially notable for one astonishing fact. Every one of the Celtic players on the pitch in Lisbon were born within 30 miles of Glasgow. 
In 2019 the club raised a bat for half a century of league titles. They have gone on to win another four since. 

3) Rangers - 117

Rangers missed an opportunity to add to their haul in the 2022 Europa League final, but that doesn’t prevent them being the joint second-most successful football team in the world. 
Champions of Scotland on 55 occasions and 34-time winners of the Scottish Cup, much of Rangers’ advantage can be attributed to their record 28 League Cups, winning their most recent in 2023/24. 

2) Nacional - 117

Even after winning the Uruguayan league title in 2022, Nacional’s total of 49 remains four short of rivals Penarol. 
Where the Tricolores do have the advantage is in international competition, collecting more silverware on the global stage than Penarol, their arch-rivals for a century and more. They are only Uruguayan team to have won the Copa Interamericana twice.

1) Al Ahly – 124

Granted, a lack of elite competition domestically lies at the core of Al Ahly’s sustained dominance of Egyptian football. That though takes nothing away from the imperious manner in which that dominance has been achieved.
They have won three times as many league titles as any of their peers. They have the most Egypt Cups, the most CAF Champions Leagues, the most African Cup Winners’ Cups and the most CAF Super Cups. 
Unsurprisingly, they were named the CAF Club of the 20th Century and furthermore they’re showing no signs of slowing down. This past season has harvested another trio of major honours. 

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.