The 10 Most Decorated Managers in Football History

The 10 Most Decorated Managers in Football History

Friday, May 10, 2024 1:55 pm

Football managers. Day of honour

Football managers. Day of honour

In the high-pressure world of football management, silverware is the ultimate currency. Victories are celebrated, but trophies are what truly define success. While some managers struggle to find the winning formula, a select few have carved their names into history with an extraordinary collection of accolades.

This list delves into the fascinating careers of the eight most decorated managers in football history. It’s a journey that transcends geographical boundaries. We’ll encounter legendary figures who dominated the European scene, those who thrived behind the Iron Curtain, and some who found glory by staying loyal to their home nations.

Prepare to be surprised by some names, and reminded of the brilliance of others. As Pep Guardiola continues to add to his already staggering trophy haul, let’s take a look at the 10 managers who have etched their legacies in gold.


  1. Giovanni Trapattoni (23 Trophies):


Nicknamed “Il Trap” (The Trap), Giovanni Trapattoni transcended the boundaries of player and manager, achieving success on both sides of the touchline.  His playing career was impressive, particularly at AC Milan, where he secured two European Cups (1963 and 1969).  But it was as a manager that Trapattoni truly cemented his legacy.

His most dominant spell came with Juventus, a period characterized by ruthless efficiency.  He masterminded six Serie A titles and the coveted European Cup trophy in 1985.  He wasn’t afraid to venture beyond Italy, managing giants like AC Milan, Inter Milan, and even German powerhouse Bayern Munich, whom he led to domestic glory in the 1996/97 season.


  1. Jock Stein (26 Trophies):


Jock Stein, a name synonymous with Celtic Football Club, wasn’t just a manager; he was a transformative figure.  His journey began nurturing young talent in Celtic’s reserve side, where he honed the skills of future legends like Billy McNeil and Bobby Murdoch.  While a win in the reserve cup doesn’t officially count in his trophy haul, it foreshadowed the success to come.

Stein’s managerial path led him to Dunfermline, where he enjoyed a fruitful four-year stint, culminating in a Scottish Cup victory.  He then had brief spells at Hibernian and the Scottish national team before finally finding his true home at Celtic in 1965.

Celtic became Stein’s canvas.  He instilled a winning mentality and a dynamic style of play that yielded a staggering collection of trophies.  While he left a positive mark on Dunfermline and Hibernian, it was at Celtic that Stein truly roared.  Their first trophy together was the 1965 Scottish Cup, a fitting symbol of his impact.  The following season would see a deluge of silverware, culminating in the groundbreaking feat of a continental treble in 1966-67 – a first for any British team.

Stein’s reign at Celtic was a period of dominance.  They secured an astonishing 10 league titles, with nine of them coming in a breathtaking, record-breaking succession.  The trophy cabinet continued to overflow with eight Scottish Cups, six Scottish League Cups, and the crowning jewel – the European Cup.

Jock Stein’s legacy extends far beyond his 26 trophies.  He transformed Celtic into a European powerhouse, all while nurturing young Scottish talent.  He was a “Lion Tamer” who unleashed a ferocious winning mentality, forever etching his name in the history books of football.


  1. Luis Felipe Scolari: (26 Trophies):


“Big Phil” Scolari is a testament to the adage that success can be found on any continent.  His managerial career has been a whirlwind adventure, spanning continents and collecting trophies along the way.

Scolari’s journey began in his native Brazil, where he tasted his first managerial victory in 1987 with Gremio, lifting the Campeonato Gaucho, the state league of Rio Grande do Sul.  This marked the beginning of a fruitful relationship with Gremio, as he would return to the club and lead them to further state titles, a national championship, a Brazilian Cup, and the prestigious Copa Libertadores.

However, Scolari wasn’t afraid to venture beyond familiar borders.  He embarked on stints in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, adding the Kuwait Emir Cup with Al-Qadisiya to his collection.  A now-famous incident saw him leave Cortiba after three losses, but he quickly bounced back, returning to Gremio and adding more silverware.

His trophy cabinet continued to expand with spells at Palmeiras (both in the late 90s and late 2010s), where he secured further domestic success.  He even ventured into Asia, conquering the Uzbek League with Bunyodkor in 2009.  China’s Super League also felt Scolari’s Midas touch, as he led Guangzhou Evergrande to a dominant three-year period.

Despite his globetrotting ways, Scolari’s international achievements are undeniable.  He took over a struggling Brazil national team in 2001, guiding them not only to World Cup qualification but also to the final, where they defeated Germany thanks to a Ronaldo brace.  His tenure with Portugal saw them reach the Euro 2004 final and the 2006 World Cup semi-final, demonstrating his tactical prowess on the international stage.  A return to Brazil in 2012 yielded another trophy, the Confederations Cup, but his reign ended after disappointing results in the 2014 FIFA World Cup on home soil.


  1. José Mourinho (26 Trophies):


Few managers in modern football inspire such strong reactions as José Mourinho.  Nicknamed “The Special One” for his self-assured pronouncements, Mourinho’s career has been a captivating blend of tactical brilliance, fiery personality, and an insatiable hunger for trophies.

His journey began under the tutelage of Sir Bobby Robson, serving as his assistant at various clubs.  However, Mourinho craved his own spotlight, and he found it at Benfica and União de Leiria.  But it was at FC Porto that Mourinho truly exploded onto the scene.  He transformed the club’s fortunes, culminating in a legendary 2003-04 season – a season etched in footballing folklore.  Mourinho masterminded a stunning European treble, including a miraculous Champions League triumph, announcing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

The Portuguese manager’s reputation as a winner preceded him.  He landed at Chelsea, a club backed by Roman Abramovich’s vast resources.  His first season yielded a League Cup and a record-breaking Premier League title, showcasing his ability to build a winning machine.  More silverware followed at Chelsea before Mourinho embarked on a new challenge – Inter Milan.  In Italy, he secured a Serie A title and, in 2010, achieved a historic treble, further cementing his status as a tactical mastermind.

Mourinho’s career has been a whirlwind of highs and lows.  His tenure at Real Madrid was marked by controversy and a trophy drought, but he did secure a La Liga title in 2011-12.  Two more stints at Chelsea yielded further Premier League and League Cup success, followed by a less fruitful period at Manchester United, where he managed to win three trophies.  A disappointing spell at Tottenham Hotspur saw no trophies, but Mourinho found redemption by winning the Europa Conference League with Roma in 2022.

Love him or hate him, José Mourinho’s 26 trophies tell a story of a relentless winner.


  1. Ottmar Hitzfeld (26 Trophies):


Ottmar Hitzfeld isn’t just a manager; he’s a relentless trophy collector.  Across a glittering career, he has amassed an impressive 28 trophies, solidifying his place among the most successful managers in football history.

Hitzfeld’s journey began on the pitch as a striker, but his true calling lay in the dugout.  He proved his managerial prowess early on, guiding Borussia Dortmund to Champions League glory in 1997.  This wasn’t a one-off feat.  He later repeated the feat with Bayern Munich in 2001, etching his name in Champions League folklore as one of the competition’s greatest managers.

While European success is a hallmark of Hitzfeld’s career, domestic dominance was also his forte.  He became a true icon at Bayern Munich, securing an incredible 14 trophies, including five Bundesliga titles.  His reign instilled a winning mentality in Bavaria, making him a legend amongst the club’s faithful.

Hitzfeld’s managerial map extends beyond Germany.  He ventured to his native Switzerland, leading Grasshopper Club Zürich to two Swiss titles.  He even took charge of the Swiss national team, showcasing his tactical adaptability across borders.


  1. Carlo Ancelotti (28 Trophies):


Carlo Ancelotti, the current mastermind behind Real Madrid’s success, is a true legend in the managerial game.  With an astonishing 28 trophies to his name, he’s a serial winner who has conquered every major European league.

Ancelotti’s journey began in 1995, and his impact has been felt across Italy, England, Germany, France, and Spain.  He’s achieved the remarkable feat of winning silverware in each of Europe’s top five leagues – La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, and Ligue 1.

Ancelotti’s achievements extend beyond domestic dominance.  He’s one of the very few who have lifted the Champions League trophy as both a player and a manager. He has masterminded the Champions League three times from the dugout, once with AC Milan and twice with Real Madrid.  Milanese fans still revere him for delivering the coveted trophy, while his reign at Real Madrid continues to be decorated with potential for even more Champions League glory.

Ancelotti’s foray into English football at Chelsea nearly resulted in a historic domestic treble.  He secured the Community Shield and followed it up with a Premier League and FA Cup double, showcasing his ability to build a dominant force.  Victories in Germany with Bayern Munich and France with Paris Saint-Germain further solidified his reputation as a winner across borders.

His latest triumph came in the 2023/24 season, guiding Real Madrid back to La Liga glory, wresting the title from Barcelona.


  1. Valeriy Lobanovskyi (30 Trophies):


Valeriy Lobanovskyi, a name that may not be as familiar in the West, deserves a place among the most decorated managers in football history.  His 30 trophies tell a story of innovation, tactical brilliance, and success achieved under unique circumstances.

Lobanovskyi’s career thrived behind the Iron Curtain, mainly with Dynamo Kyiv, a powerhouse in the Soviet Union.  Soviet football, while shrouded in some mystery for the Western world, was a hotbed of tactical innovation.  Lobanovskyi, far from being isolated, embraced new ideas.  He collaborated with the Kyiv State Institute of Physical Education, pioneering a system of calculated training to manage his players’ workloads.

But Lobanovskyi wasn’t just a scientist of the game; he was a tactician as well.  He developed a style reminiscent of Rinus Michels’ “Total Football,” but with a pressing emphasis that would become a hallmark of modern football.  This innovation, coupled with his training methods, yielded remarkable results.

Under Lobanovskyi’s iron fist, Dynamo Kyiv dominated.  They secured eight Soviet Top League titles and six Soviet Cups, establishing themselves as a domestic force.  Their reach extended beyond the Soviet Union, conquering Europe with two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumphs and a European Super Cup victory over Bayern Munich.

Lobanovskyi’s influence transcended club football.  He also managed the Soviet Union national team, narrowly missing out on glory in the 1988 European Championship final.  Marco van Basten’s iconic goal for the Netherlands dashed their dreams, but Lobanovskyi’s tactical acumen was undeniable.

Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Lobanovskyi continued his winning ways, transforming Dynamo Kyiv into the dominant force of Ukrainian football.  He secured five consecutive National League titles and three Ukrainian Cups in a row, cementing his legacy as a legend of the game.


  1. Mircea Lucescu (38 Trophies):


Mircea Lucescu, a name synonymous with winning ways, has carved his path across continents, amassing a staggering 38 trophies throughout his managerial career.  He’s a true journeyman, conquering leagues in Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, and even Italy.

Lucescu’s journey began in his native Romania, where he honed his skills on the domestic stage.  He secured two Romanian Cups and a league title with Dinamo București, laying the foundation for his future success.  Following the 1989 revolution, his ambition took him beyond the Iron Curtain, landing him a role at Pisa in Italy.

His time in Italy was marked by innovation.  While at Brescia, Lucescu, alongside fitness coach Adriano Bacconi, pioneered the use of data analysis in football.  They created a software program called FARM (Football Athletics Results Manager), one of the first systems to monitor player performance through data.  Brescia also saw him lift the 1993-94 Anglo-Italian Cup, a testament to his tactical prowess.

However, it was at Shakhtar Donetsk that Lucescu truly cemented his legacy.  He transformed the Ukrainian club into a powerhouse, dominating the domestic scene.  Under his leadership, Shakhtar secured an incredible eight Ukrainian Premier League titles, six Ukrainian Cups, and seven Ukrainian Super Cups.  Their dominance wasn’t limited to Ukraine; they achieved continental success by winning the 2009 UEFA Cup, defeating German side Werder Bremen.  Lucescu’s reign at Shakhtar showcased his ability to build a winning team and extract the best from his players.

His hunger for trophies continued.  He added a Russian Cup victory with Zenit St. Petersburg to his collection.  While a stint with Turkey didn’t yield silverware, his return to Ukraine proved fruitful.  He took charge of Shakhtar’s arch-rivals, Dynamo Kyiv, and in a remarkable feat, secured a domestic treble in his first season at the helm.

Lucescu retired from management in November 2023, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy.

  1. Pep Guardiola (38 Trophies):

Pep Guardiola’s name is synonymous with winning.  With a staggering 38 trophies at the young age of 53, he’s not just a successful manager; he’s a contender for the title of “greatest of all time.”  And at this pace, who can argue?

Guardiola’s journey is a testament to his exceptional talent.  He was entrusted with the reins of the Barcelona first team after just one year with the B team, a sign of the immense faith placed in his abilities.  He repaid that trust in spades, accomplishing the seemingly impossible – a treble in his very first season.  This was just the beginning.  By the end of 2009, he had masterminded the first sextuple in football history, a feat that solidified his place in the record books.  By the time he left Barcelona after four remarkable years, he had amassed a record-breaking 14 trophies, cementing his legacy as the club’s most successful manager.

His managerial map extends beyond Spain.  He took on the challenge of leading Bayern Munich, quickly reclaiming his winning ways after a sabbatical.  The Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles were secured, but it was the elusive Champions League that continued to elude him.  Despite reaching the semi-finals in each of his three seasons at Bayern, the ultimate European glory remained out of reach.

However, Guardiola’s thirst for victory wasn’t quenched.  His move to Manchester City ushered in a new era of dominance in English football.  Over the past eight years, Manchester City, under his guidance, has become a force to be reckoned with.  Their trophy cabinet has overflowed with five Premier League titles, four League Cups, two FA Cups, two FA Community Shields, and most importantly, the Champions League trophy – a long-sought-after achievement secured with a victory over Inter Milan in 2023.


  1. Sir Alex Ferguson (49 Trophies):


The debate for the “greatest manager of all time” may rage on, but Sir Alex Ferguson stands alone on a mountain of trophies, his legacy an undeniable testament to his brilliance.  With a staggering 49 trophies to his name, he’s not just a manager; he’s a legend who redefined success in the beautiful game.

Ferguson’s journey began modestly, etching his name on the first division title (Scotland’s second tier) with St. Mirren in 1977.  He quickly established his talent, taking the helm at Aberdeen and securing the Scottish Premier Division title in just his second season.  His reign at Aberdeen was decorated with further triumphs – two more league titles and four Scottish Cups – culminating in the Dons’ historic victory against Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup.

However, it was at Manchester United that Ferguson truly cemented his place in footballing history.  While his early years at the club were marked by some turbulence, his unwavering determination paid off.  From 1990 to 2013, Manchester United became a trophy-winning machine under his leadership, amassing a staggering 38 trophies – an average of nearly two per season.  This period of dominance transformed the Red Devils into a global powerhouse.

The Premier League became their playground, with Ferguson orchestrating two and a half decades of dominance.  FA Cups, League Cups, and Community Shields were added to the ever-growing collection.  Their European exploits were equally impressive, with two Champions League titles – the 1999 triumph being an unforgettable part of the club’s historic treble.  Ferguson’s hunger for trophies extended beyond Europe as well, securing victories in the Intercontinental Cup (1999) and the FIFA Club World Cup (2008), solidifying Manchester United’s status as world champions.

Fascinated by football legends? Join iLOTBET and experience the thrill of the beautiful game with exclusive bonuses and insider insights!

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.