Manchester City are the new kings of Europe after successfully keeping Inter Milan at arm's length in Saturday's gruelling Champions League final, ending the night in Istanbul with that famous trophy in their hands after a 1-0 win.
The relief was palpable as Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side celebrated long into the night after a long campaign in which they had already wrapped up both the Premier League title and FA Cup. That last victory at the Ataturk clinched the treble for City, who joined a select group by becoming only the eighth European men's team ever to win their domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup/Champions League all in the same season.
There have now been 10 trebles won since the European Cup was first established in 1955. Barcelona and Bayern Munich have both won it twice, and all of those have come since the turn of the century. In fact, only four trebles were won in the 45-year period during which they were possible in the 20th century, while a running total of six have been claimed since the year 2000 -- including a flurry of three in the five years between 2008-09 and 2012-13.
By seeing off Inter on Saturday, City completed a rare feat that has to this day eluded historic continental heavyweights such as AC Milan and Real Madrid, the two most successful clubs in the history of the European Cup, with 21 wins between them.
City also have the honour of becoming only the second Premier League side to win the treble, alongside rivals Manchester United. This means that England now match the Netherlands' record as being the only nations to have had two different clubs win the European treble, and Manchester now stands next to Milan as the only two cities to produce two European champions.
Here we look at each of those 10 treble triumphs and rank them to determine which of them was the greatest of them all.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was first published on June 7, 2023.
10. PSV Eindhoven (1987-88)
📅 #NesteDia em 1988...— UEFA.com em português (@UEFAcom_pt) May 25, 2019
O PSV Eindhoven vence o Benfica na final da Taça dos Campeões Europeus 🏆
Recorde o remate decisivo no desempate por penalties 😃😞#UCL #UCLfinal @SLBenfica pic.twitter.com/iZ3uiHDhFz
One of the most successful European clubs of the 1970s and '80s, PSV's trophy room was already chock full of the silverware gathered both on the home and continental front including multiple Eredivisie titles and KNVB Cups as well as the UEFA Cup (1977-78). However, the prestigious treble had eluded the Dutch side until young coach Guus Hiddink stepped up from his role as assistant manager to take the reins for the 1987-88 season.
The league title was won by nine clear points (in the days of two points for a win) and the 3-2 cup final win over Roda JC came courtesy of Soren Lerby's winner early in extra time. European glory followed as PSV became the first Dutch side to conquer the continent for 15 years. However, quite how Hiddink's rigid side -- anchored by young centre-back Ronald Koeman -- managed to do so without actually registering an outright victory from the second round onwards in impressive, in a grudging sort of way.
PSV won both their quarterfinal against Bordeaux and their semi against Real Madrid 1-1 on away goals, and in the final in Stuttgart ground through 120 minutes of goalless fare before proceeding to clinch the treble via a sudden-death penalty shootout. Indeed, Koeman et al only won three of their nine games in the whole tournament, instead largely relying on shootouts and away goals. Still, it was their name on the trophy at the end of the season, and no one can take them from them.
9. Inter Milan (2009-10)
The last time Inter appeared in a Champions League final they became the sixth club in history to have rounded off the league, cup and European Cup treble. In Jose Mourinho's second and final season in charge, Inter forged a strong win-at-all-costs work ethic that was underpinned by a near-impervious defence led by Julio Cesar, Lucio and Javier Zanetti and elevated by select world-class attacking talents such as Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder and tireless central striker Diego Milito, who scored 25 goals in all competitions that season.
The Nerazzurri kept challengers Roma at bay in Serie A all season to win a second successive Scudetto under Mourinho by just two points before the charismatic Portuguese coach added the 2009-10 Coppa Italia to the haul by masterminding a pragmatic march to glory, winning by a single goal in every round.
In the Champions League, Inter garnered just enough points to make it out of a strong group that included defending champions Barcelona before going on to defeat Chelsea (Mourinho's former side), CSKA Moscow and Barca again (with Mourinho famously celebrating on the pitch and taunting fans at Camp Nou despite his 10-man side losing the second leg 1-0) en route to facing Bayern Munich in the final.
Coincidentally, Bayern were also chasing their own treble but a characteristically gritty and determined display from Inter dashed their dreams in Madrid. Milito scored a goal in each half to win Inter their first European Cup since 1965. It certainly wasn't the prettiest or most assured of trebles, but the Inter players were willing to fight tooth and nail for their dogmatic, pugnacious coach and the results speak for themselves.
8. Ajax (1971-72)
Despite creeping fears abound that the departure of renowned and long-serving coach Rinus Michels would signal the end of a golden era, the Ajax team of 1971-72 (managed by Stefan Kovacs) defied the doubters by enjoying more success on all fronts than any of their illustrious predecessors.
They could still count on Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Arie Haan and Johnny Rep to pull the strings as the Amsterdam giants lost just one game all season to win the Eredivisie at a canter, and they won the KNVB Cup with a 3-2 win over Den Haag.
It was a similar story in Europe, where the reigning champions won six and lost none of their eight game en route to the final as they deftly navigated their way past Dynamo Dresden, Marseille, Arsenal and Benfica. In the final in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Cruyff scored both goals in a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Inter Milan.
7. Bayern Munich (2012-13)
Having made a slew of impressive summer signings in response to Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund winning back-to-back Bundesliga title, Bayern were well equipped for the 2012-13 season and kicked things off with a nine-match winning streak in the league that saw Jupp Heynckes' effervescent side score 26 goals and concede only twice.
After a shock defeat in their 10th outing, a 2-1 home defeat against Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern went the rest of the league season unbeaten, wrapping up the title while scoring 98 goals in total, conceding just 18 and setting new records for total points (91) and biggest points margin between the champions and the team in second place (Dortmund, who ended 25 points adrift). Bayern also waltzed to the DFB Pokal, scoring 20 goals in six games including three in the final victory over Stuttgart.
With their world-class wing duo of Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery firing on all cylinders either side of Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic, the Bavarians topped their Champions League group before muscling past Arsenal (on away goals), Juventus (4-0 on aggregate) and Barcelona (7-0). In the final at Wembley, Bayern once again bested rivals Dortmund thanks to an 89th-minute winner from Robben to get their hands on Germany's first-ever treble.
6. Manchester United (1998-99)
United's league and cup successes in 1998-99 tend to pale in comparison with the three-minute chaotic rush that delivered their famous last-gasp, treble-winning Champions League triumph.
In reality, Sir Alex Ferguson's side came perilously close to ending the campaign empty handed in much the same way they did in 1997-98. The Red Devils required a comeback victory against Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the league season to pip Arsenal to the title by one point. It also took an inspired virtuoso goal from Ryan Giggs for United to beat the Gunners in extra time of their FA Cup semifinal replay, though their 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in the final was admittedly much more routine.
However, it is their collective exploits in European competition that came to define United's incredible season. Though, even here they finished second behind Bayern in their group after drawing four of their six matches, including two exhilarating 3-3 ties with Barcelona. Still, they dispatched Inter in the quarterfinals and then their gutsy 3-2 comeback against Juventus in the second leg of the semifinals was personified by the phenomenal performance of captain Roy Keane, paving the way for similarly exhilarating scenes in the final against Bayern at Camp Nou.
Bayern went ahead very early through Thomas Basler as the two sides proceeded to make heavy weather of the ensuing 84 minutes, with not much more in the way of memorable action offered up by either. However, the announcement of three additional minutes of stoppage time seemed to light a fire under United who turned the whole tie on its head in whirlwind fashion thanks to a couple of quickfire goals from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
While the majority of the 1998-99 final wasn't overly entertaining, those maddening closing seconds in Barcelona will forever go down as an era-defining moment for both United and the Champions League and one of the most thrilling ends to a football match anywhere, ever.
5. Celtic (1966-67)
Very few teams have enjoyed such wall-to-wall dominance as Celtic's famed "Lisbon Lions" team, who are still universally regarded as the greatest single side to have represented the Scottish club.
The Bhoys competed on five fronts in 1966-67: the Scottish Division One title, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the Glasgow Cup and the European Cup. They won them all, scoring a record total of 196 goals in that extraordinary clean sweep.
Celtic only lost two league games all season (home and away against Dundee United) to beat rivals Rangers to the title by three points. Jock Stein's all-conquering side defeated Rangers in the Scottish League Cup final in late-October before landing the Glasgow Cup the following month. The Scottish Cup was then added to the pile with a 2-0 victory over Aberdeen in April's final.
However, the crowning glory came in May's European Cup final as the Lions earned both their nickname and their footballing immortality with a brilliant 2-1 victory in the Portuguese capital over Inter Milan -- winners in two of the three previous finals. In doing so, they became the first British team to win the trophy, never mind the treble, and all with a team largely made up of players hailing from within a 10-mile radius of Celtic Park.
4. Manchester City (2022-23)
By their own high standards, Manchester City endured a slightly off-colour first half to the 2022-23 season in which they lost four Premier League games between mid-October and early February -- one more than they lost in the entirety of their title-winning 2021-22 campaign -- to leave them trailing league leaders Arsenal by as much as eight points at one stage.
The previous month, City were also unceremoniously dumped out of the Carabao Cup at the quarterfinal stage by struggling Southampton, who won 2-0 at St Mary's to eliminate the team who have won the competition four times under Guardiola.
However, after losing 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Feb. 5, City galvanised like true serial champions. They set about systematically eating up the gulf that had opened up between themselves and the Gunners, winning 14 of their next 16 league games to overtake their rivals and sew up a third successive title with three games left to spare. Striker Erling Haaland finished the league season with a record-shattering 36 goals.
As the elongated season rolled over into June, City kept the momentum up by beating local foes Manchester United in the first-ever Mancunian derby FA Cup final. Ilkay Gundogan scored two volleys -- the first after just 12 seconds, setting a record for the quickest goal in the fixture -- to complete the league and cup double in fine style at Wembley.
One week later came the Champions League final, and their route to it was not simple. After topping their group unbeaten, including two wins and seven goals scored against eventual Europa League winners Sevilla, City eased through the round of 16 after a 7-0 second-leg humiliation of RB Leipzig. But that was just the warmup; City then beat Bayern Munich 4-1 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and defending champions Real Madrid 5-1 in the semis (including a stunning 4-0 win at the Etihad) to book their trip to Istanbul.
Haaland had scored 12 goals en route to the final, enough to confirm him as the tournament's top scorer for a second time at the age of 22. The striker did not add to his total for the season of 52 club goals, but no matter; Rodri was City's hero of the night in Istanbul as they won a tense game against an impressively resilient Inter to join them in one of European football's most exclusive clubs.
3. Barcelona (2008-09)
Change was in the air at Barcelona in 2008-09 after the appointment of former B-team coach Pep Guardiola as first-team manager ushered in a new regime at the Catalan club.
Veteran stars such as Lillian Thuram, Edmilson, Deco and Ronaldinho were phased out to make room for a raft of gifted, young La Masia graduates such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi who shared in Guardiola's intricate, possession-based tactical philosophy.
Flush with nimble ball players as well as established marquee names like Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o (who just about escaped the cull), Barcelona were irresistible from the off (barring a shock opening-day defeat to Numancia.) They remained top of LaLiga from the start of November until the end of the season, winning the title by a nine-point gulf above Real Madrid, who were savagely thrashed 6-2 by Barca at the Bernabeu during the final few weeks of the campaign. That win contributed to Barca's haul of 105 league goals that season.
Guardiola's side also won the Copa del Rey, with Messi and Xavi both scoring in a straightforward 4-1 victory over Athletic Club in the final. The rookie manager then won the Champions League in his debut season with his team scoring 18 goals as they topped their group before making short work of Lyon (6-3 on aggregate) and Bayern (5-1) en route to a dramatic semifinal against Chelsea. Iniesta scored a stunning 93rd-minute away goal clincher at Stamford Bridge to send Barca through to the final.
With their style already perfectly honed, Barcelona then proceeded to do a number on Manchester United in Rome, passing the Premier League champions off the park and barely allowing their dazzled opponents a touch of the ball. A pristine 2-0 win was capped off by the rarest of footballing phenomena; a headed goal from the 5-foot-7 Messi.
The final whistle brought with it the first treble in Spanish football history and the mass realisation that Pep's Barca were set to be a major force.
2. Bayern Munich (2019-20)
Bayern's second treble season, which came seven years after their first, began in turmoil as former assistant coach Hansi Flick stepped in to the managerial breach to replace Niko Kovac in early November.
Indeed, Bayern got off to a slightly rocky start in the Bundesliga with Kovac struggling to exert his influence despite winning a domestic double at the Allianz the previous season. The Croatian's tenure came to an abrupt end after a 5-1 thrashing dealt out by his former club Eintracht Frankfurt left Bayern sitting fourth in the table with 10 games played, four points off the lead.
Flick was initially promoted to first-team coach as an interim solution but an instant upswing in performances and results led Bayern to hand him the reins until the end of the season. The decision proved savvy as Flick guided the German giants to six trophies in his first year in the job by winning the Bundesliga, the DFB Pokal and the Champions League in 2019-20 before adding the 2020 German Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to the list.
Despite fears they might miss the departed "Robbery" double act, Bayern were utterly formidable throughout 2019-20 with striker Robert Lewandowski in lethal form, scoring 55 goals in all competitions including an unbeaten 15 in the Champions League.
The Bavarians ended the campaign with a 30-game unbeaten run in all competitions that included 29 victories, the most famous of which being their extraordinary 8-2 demolition of Barcelona in the quarterfinal of the Champions League, which was reduced to a one-leg fixture due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Barcelona (2014-15)
In the six years that separated Barca's two trebles, the Catalans had transformed from an exciting group of precocious fresh-faced tyros into a fully formed, possession-hoarding machine with Messi operating as the jewel in the crown.
With Luis Enrique now heading the team, their new-look front three was completed at great expense by Luis Suarez and Neymar, though the former was ineligible for selection for the opening few months due to the lengthy suspension he incurred for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup.
Nevertheless, the personnel changes seemed to improve Barca's resilience as they fended off stiff competition from Real Madrid to win the LaLiga title with 94 points, 110 goals scored and only 21 conceded. They closed out the campaign with a 14-match unbeaten run that took in a vital 2-1 Clasico victory.
Flanked by stellar talent, Messi was at the height of his powers, scoring 58 goals in all competitions. This included one of the best goals of his career, a spectacular solo goal as part of his man-of-the-match performance in the 3-1 victory over Athletic Club that delivered the Copa del Rey in late May, one week before the Champions League final. Overall, Messi, Neymar and Suarez combined to score a total of 122 goals in all competitions, the most a trio had ever scored in a single season in Spanish football history.
Faced with a tough group that also contained Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax, Barca won all but one of their opening round games before eliminating Manchester City (3-1 on aggregate), PSG (5-1) and then Bayern Munich (5-3) in their run to the final. In Berlin they met Juventus, who were also coming into the game with a domestic and European treble on the line.
After Neymar and Iniesta had combined to deftly scythe through the defence, Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring for Barca with just four minutes played. Despite near-constant pressure from the Catalans, that's the way things stayed until Alvaro Morata equalised for Juve against the run of play in the 55th minute.
However, Barca were able to gradually wear down Juve's resistance and late goals from Neymar and Suarez were enough to put the final to bed and win what was, at the time, an unprecedented second European treble.