The UEFA Champions League first started in 1955 as the European Cup and was a straight-up knockout tournament. The French football magazine L’Equipe selected the participating teams in the first five seasons, with Real Madrid establishing a stronghold by winning the title in each season.

Since the tournament’s inception, the Los Blancos have lifted the title 14 times, the most any club has ever managed. After winning the first five editions, Madrid dominated the continental championship once again from 2013, winning four of the five editions, including three in a row from 2016 to 2018.

Spanish teams have won the title an impressive 19 times, making them the undisputed kings of the tournament. English sides come in second, having won the competition 14 times while teams from Italy have been European champions on 12 occasions.

European Cup winners list

Team Winner Runner-up
1955-56 Real Madrid Reims
1956-57 Real Madrid Fiorentina
1957-58 Real Madrid AC Milan
1958-59 Real Madrid Reims
1959-60 Real Madrid Eintracht Frankfurt
1960-61 Benfica Barcelona
1961-62 Benfica Real Madrid
1962-63 AC Milan Benfica
1963-64 Inter Milan Real Madrid
1964-65 Inter Milan Benfica
1965-66 Real Madrid Partizan
1966-67 Celtic Inter Milan
1967-68 Manchester United Benfica
1968-69 AC Milan Ajax
1969-70 Feyenoord Celtic
1970-71 Ajax Panathinaikos
1971-72 Ajax Inter Milan
1972-73 Ajax Juventus
1973-74 Bayern Munich Atletico Madrid
1974-75 Bayern Munich Leeds United
1975-76 Bayern Munich Saint Etienne
1976-77 Liverpool Borussia Monchengladbach
1977-78 Liverpool Club Brugge
1978-79 Nottingham Forest Malmo FF
1979-80 Nottingham Forest Hamburger SV
1980-81 Liverpool Real Madrid
1981-82 Aston Villa Bayern Munich
1982-83 Hamburger SV Juventus
1983-84 Liverpool Roma
1984-85 Juventus Liverpool
1985-86 Steaua Bucuresti Barcelona
1986-87 Porto Bayern Munich
1987-88 PSV Eindhoven Benfica
1988-89 AC Milan Steaua Bucuresti
1989-90 AC Milan Benfica
1990-91 Red Star Belgrade Marseille
1991-92 Barcelona Sampdoria

By the 1992-93 football season, European Cup was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League while undergoing severe changes in the format, including the round-robin structure that allowed teams from multiple countries to participate.

French side Marseille won the first edition of the rebranded UEFA Champions League in the 1992-93 season, beating Italian giants AC Milan 1-0 in the final.

Since the restructure, Real Madrid have won the most UEFA Champions League titles (8). Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s all-time top scorer and Manchester United’s current frontman, has made the most appearances (183) and is also the top scorer (140) in the competition.

After Real Madrid, AC Milan have appeared in the most UEFA Champions League finals (6) but have won the title just thrice since 1993. The biggest upset in UEFA Champions League history occurred in the 2003-04 season when a Jose Mourinho-led FC Porto side defeated a star-studded AS Monaco team 3-0 to lift the title. They are the only Portuguese team to win the title since 1993.

UEFA Champions League winners list

Team Winner Runner-up
1992-93 Marseille AC Milan
1993-94 AC Milan Barcelona
1994-95 Ajax AC Milan
1995-96 Juventus Ajax
1996-97 Borussia Dortmund Juventus
1997-98 Real Madrid Juventus
1998-99 Manchester United Bayern Munich
1999-00 Real Madrid Valencia
2000-01 Bayern Munich Valencia
2001-02 Real Madrid Bayer Leverkusen
2002-03 AC Milan Juventus
2003-04 Porto Monaco
2004-05 Liverpool AC Milan
2005-06 Barcelona Arsenal
2006-07 AC Milan Liverpool
2007-08 Manchester United Chelsea
2008-09 Barcelona Manchester United
2009-10 Inter Milan Bayern Munich
2010-11 Barcelona Manchester United
2011-12 Chelsea Bayern Munich
2012-13 Bayern Munich Borussia Dortmund
2013-14 Real Madrid Atletico Madrid
2014-15 Barcelona Juventus
2015-16 Real Madrid Atletico Madrid
2016-17 Real Madrid Juventus
2017-18 Real Madrid Liverpool
2018-19 Liverpool Tottenham Hotspur
2019-20 Bayern Munich Paris Saint-Germain
2020-21 Chelsea Manchester City
2021-22 Real Madrid Liverpool
2022-23 Manchester City Inter Milan

Featured photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP