Inside: Every European club to win five trophies in a single calendar year


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Former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick used to drill a singular message into his players: “Success can’t be bought. It’s rented. And every day the rent is due.”

Across the storied history of European football, only a handful of clubs have ever lined the pocket of the metaphorical landlord long enough to win as many as five trophies in the same calendar year.

Here’s a look at the few sides to have gone not one but two better than the hallowed feat of a treble.

  • Ajax

BAYERN V AJAX

Dutch football giants Ajax have contributed some of the greatest club sides ever to grace the continent but Johan Cruyff’s Total Footballers from the 1970s could not quite match the feat of the 1995 vintage.

 

Year

Trophies

1995

Eredivisie, Champions League, Dutch Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, UEFA Super Cup

While this no doubt thrilled manager Louis van Gaal, who had a long-running personal rivalry with Cruyff that stretched back to their playing days, one of the five trophies Ajax won in 1995, the Dutch equivalent of the Community Shield, would later be named after Cruyff.

Nevertheless, Van Gaal’s side are worthy of their own golden thread in history. Not only did Ajax win the 1995 Champions League final, defeating Juventus 1-0, but they lifted that year’s Dutch top-flight title without losing a single game.

  • Barcelona

Josep Guardiola

Before the 2009 Club World Cup final against Estudiantes, as Barcelona targeted an unprecedented sixth trophy of the calendar year, Pep Guardiola told his players: “If we lose today, we will still be the best team in the world. If we win, we will be eternal.”

 

Year

Trophies

2009

Copa del Rey, La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

2011

La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

2015

Copa del Rey, La Liga, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

Barcelona needed extra time but secured a 2-1 victory over the Copa Libertadores champions thanks to Lionel Messi‘s improvised 110th-minute winner, turning a cross into the net with his chest, or his heart as they say in Catalonia.

Messi was an integral figure in all three Barcelona teams that completed a quintuple in 2009, 2011 and 2015. However, only the first iteration was able to win six pots of silverware and become ‘eternal’.

  • Inter

Sulley Muntary, Dejan Stankovic, Maicon

 

The prying cameras captured Jose Mourinho hugging a sobbing Marco Materazzi in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabeu. Inter’s towering centre-back was overcome with emotion after completing an unprecedented treble in Italian football, defeating Bayern Munich in the final to add the Champions League title to their success in Serie A and the Coppa Italia that year.

 

Year

Trophies

2010

Coppa Italia, Serie A, Champions League, Italian Super Cup, Club World Cup

However, some of the tears also owed to Mourinho’s imminent departure. Materazzi later joked that his parting words for the Portuguese coach were: “F**k you – because he was leaving me with [Rafa] Benitez.”

The former Liverpool manager took over from Mourinho in the summer of 2010 and oversaw the capture of the Italian Super Cup and Club World Cup but neither trophy was enough to keep Benitez in a job by Christmas. According to a gleeful Mourinho five years later: “In six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.”

  • Bayern Munich

Jupp Heynckes

 

Bayern Munich earned more trophies in 2013 (five) than defeats (three) but Guardiola still wasn’t satisfied. On the way back from winning the Club World Cup, he sighed: “We have to play better. Much, much better.”

 

Year

Trophies

2013

Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

2020

Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup, DFL Supercup, Club World Cup

Jupp Heynckes had been at the helm for Bayern’s first three titles that year and was not a prisoner to the same aesthetic ideal as Guardiola. Heynckes’ Bayern could dominate through possession, counter-attack efficiently or press opponents into oblivion. Borussia Dortmund’s then-manager Jurgen Klopp summed up Heynckes’ capitalistic approach. “They see what others are doing, copy it, and then go down the same route with more money.”

Just two months before 2020 began, Bayern scarcely seemed capable of winning one trophy let alone six. Eintracht Frankfurt punished Niko Kovac’s pale imitation of champions with a 5-1 thrashing in November 2019, forcing a change in the dugout which sparked a remarkable year.

Flick’s pared-back, high-pressing approach exerted a cold control over the eery empty stadiums of a Covid-blighted 2020. A side supercharged by Robert Lewandowski’s ruthless renaissance won 43 of Flick’s first 47 games at the helm.

  • Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo

 

At the entrance to the section of Real Madrid’s club museum where all the pots and trinkets are housed, a sign read: “Trophies tell the whole story. They are concrete facts that define the holder without the need for cliches. The end result is the sum of these trophies and the well-deserved title of the Best Club of All Time – the Best Club in History.”

 

Year

Trophies

2017

La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

Ironically, this plaque was removed before the club ever lifted five trophies in a single calendar year.

Zinedine Zidane only won six competitions while he was a Real Madrid player – two of which were the Spanish equivalent of the Community Shield – but proved more successful in the dugout. With Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos offering a perfect balance in midfield and Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo providing the firepower up front, Zidane certainly had the tools for success at his disposal.

  • Man City

At the start of December 2023, Guardiola declared that Manchester City were “not the best team in the world”. Before Christmas, the Sky Blues had officially taken that title, swatting aside the champions of Asia and South America by an aggregate score of 7-0 to lift the Club World Cup.

 

Year

Trophies

2023

Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

City became the first English club to win five trophies in a single year but they were seconds away from replicating Barcelona’s sextuple. Leandro Trossard scored Arsenal’s equaliser in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time in the Community Shield to force a penalty shootout which the Gunners won.

While that failure is often forgotten, the 115 Premier League charges for financial mismanagement which hang over City are far more regularly cited by embittered onlookers. Few, however, could make the case that City were not the best team in the world in 2023 – apart from Guardiola, of course.

What we know

  • Man City became the first English club to win five trophies in a single year in 2023
  • Barcelona have achieved the feat more often than any other side
  • Teams from the Netherlands, Italy and Germany have also claimed some form of quintuple.

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