Throughout history football fans have witnessed lots of good teams; a selected group of squads that did nothing but succeed during their primes and that left their mark in history. As much as we see dominant teams in current football, there are a couple of them that truly made history and that will be always remembered.
Whether it is for the style of play they used, the silverware they collected or how significant their players were in history, there is a bunch of teams that deserve to be called the greatest of all time. Maybe you haven’t heard of some of them and in case you’re wondering who can these clubs be, these are the 10 greatest teams of all time.
Honorable mention: Independiente (1970-75)
10. Torino (1945-49)
This side had everything to be the best in history and – if it wasn’t for his short and tragical story - have a higher spot on this list. Back in the day, Torino was the best team not only in Europe but in the world. Their players were the best of the best, often being important in the Italian national side. At some point, they had a starting XI against Hungary full of player from Il Grande Torino.
Ferruccio Novo’s team managed to win five Serie A titles in a row and most of the time with several months of advantage. Sadly, the story of the great Torino ended in 1949, when a plane crash took the lives of the entire team. Torino could have been one of the greatest teams in Italy if it wasn’t for that tragic event, they would have been better than hometown neighbors Juventus. This will remain as one of the biggest “what if?” in football history.
9. Celtic (1965-1974)
Albeit Celtic is the total dominant team in the Scottish league since a couple of seasons now, back in the 60s, they were going through a drought until Jock Stein took over in 1965. Before that, they spent more than 10 years without winning the league and struggling to have good results; however, things turned around for them and history was written in one of the best periods for any English team.
The Bhoys managed to dominate a domestic tournament which had five different champions in the last five editions. They changed their way to play and using an attacking style and that made Celtic start to see a difference in their results. Things got much better for them as only two years after Stein’s arrival, Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup.
8. Manchester United (1995-2003)
Even though Manchester United was a very respected and honored club after the ’90s, things took a huge change for them in 1995, where the Red Devils stated they were the real deal both in England and Europe. Despite the fact they counted with a young core – and were criticized for it, Sir Alex Ferguson managed to take his team to the top.
With players like Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona leading the way and interesting youngsters like David Beckham or Gary Neville, Man. Utd. started the best era in the club history, winning the Premier League that season and winning five more in the following years. However, the biggest moment of this team was the 1998-99 Champions League final where they defeated Bayern Munich in one of the most dramatic games in the history of the competition.
7. Santos (1955-1968)
During his prime, Santos knew how to become one of the most feared forces in almost every country in the world. This team was responsible for creating, increasing and sharing the legend of the King Pele. Added to the likes of Pele himself, Santos counted with other impressive names such as Coutinho and Gilmar, who took the Brazilian side to be one of the most successful in their time.
During the 50s and the 60s, they showed all of their dominance, winning two Intercontinental Cups, two consecutive Copa Libertadores and five league titles in a row. They trashed everybody not only in Brazil but in South America and even decided to withdraw from tournaments in order to play friendly matches with bigger rivals than the ones they had on the continent.
6. Liverpool (1975-1983)
Liverpool is not the biggest team in England by casualty, as the Reds have had various periods full of glories and the biggest proof of that is the one they had between 1975 and 1983, where Bill Paisley took the team to perfect the “pass and move” style of play they were using and made it a complete threat for anybody who dared to faced them.
During the lap of eight years, with the likes of Ian Rush or Kevin Keegan, several trophies found the way to Anfield Road, as the Reds dominated football in the island, winning Six league titles, three league cups and if that wasn’t enough three European Cups. Albeit they had another good era during the late 80s, this one has to be the best not only for Liverpool but for any English team.
5. Milan (1986-1995)
Milan has had a couple of good periods, too, but the one between the mid-80s and mid-90s has to be one of the most prolific in history. Managed by Arrigo Sachi and counting with very good players, Milan went from a team from the rest to become one that was part of the latter stages of European Cups, becoming a total powerhouse in European football.
Players like Ruud Gullit or Frank Rijkaard were part of the team that won the Serie A title and two consecutive European Cups, as well as losing other finals, starring some of the biggest upsets in the competition. During the 2000s they had another good era, winning several Serie A trophies, two Champions Leagues (2003 and 2007) while losing one in the most iconic game of the competition against Liverpool.
4. Barcelona (2008-2011)
This is the most recent case of our list and even if nobody was sure what would happen with Barcelona after Frank Rijkaard's departure as manager, things certainly worked out for the club. To replace Rijkaard, the team brought a club legend Pep Guardiola and no one can say he didn’t a great job at Camp Nou.
Pep created the “tiki-taka” style of play that a lot of teams use these days and even though some Barcelona’s games were amid controversy, they never stopped demonstrating why so many people consider them the best club in the world during the lap of four years. The Blaugrana club became the first one to win a “sextuple” (six trophies in a single season), leaving his mark in history, as just a few teams were able to stop this football machine and nobody has been able to achieve their feats.
3. Real Madrid (1955-1960)
This team is considered the ultimate Spanish squad; imagine how good they were that more than 50 years later, people are still talking about all the feats they achieved. Players like Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas were part of this team that didn’t have any competition during its prime, trashing rivals at a local and continental level.
From 1955 to 1960 Real Madrid won the first five editions of the European Cup with not so much competition from rivals. The majestic group of players was very important not only for his club but football in general. Back in the day, Real Madrid changed the way people saw football not only as a sport but as a business, laying the foundations for modern football transfers and sponsorships.
2. Bayern Munich (1967-1976)
Nowadays Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world, not leaving a chance for their rivals in Germany and sometimes in Europe, but back in the 60s, they were nothing but a mediocre team with a huge advantage against them from city neighbors 1860 Munich. However, when some guys named Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Meier became part of the team, history changed forever.
These three would also play for West Germany and would become an important part of the German national team that won the FIFA World Cup in 1974. The Bavarians went to win a Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967, three consecutive Bundesliga titles plus three straight European Cup wins that took them from being a team from the bunch to be the ruler force in German football, staying like that until today.
1. Ajax (1965-1973)
During the same period, Bayern Munich was taking the world by storm, there was another team that not only won a bunch of silverware but made a complete revolution in football. Managed by legendary boss Rinus Michel, Ajax dominated the world from the late 60s until the early 70s, becoming the best team in the history of football.
Led by the one and only Johann Cruyff, the Amsterdam side developed introduced to the world the style of play known as Total Football. This style of playing also would take the Netherlands to play two FIFA World Cup finals –losing both- and served as inspiration for many teams that became powerhouses in the future.
Players like Johan Neeskens, Arie Haan and Velibor Vasovi were Cruyff’s wingmen and guided the Dutch team to win six Eredivisie titles, four domestic Cups and the most impressive feat, three European Cups, stating that there wasn’t and so far there hasn’t been any club better than this Ajax.