Winning trophies is what football is all about. All players grow up dreaming of getting their hands on trophies but very few actually go on to realise this dream, taking into account the limited number of trophies that are available to win every season and the number of teams and players vying to get their hands on the prize.

Ordinarily winning one trophy itself is considered a good achievement for the top teams and winning two, also known as the double, is something that teams and players can be proud of.

However, every once in a while, a few teams come along to go beyond the realm of possibility by winning not one, not two but three trophies in the very same season to complete a treble. Here, we take a closer look at what is a treble in football.

What is a treble in football?

In essence, a treble in football takes place when a team wins three trophies in a season. However, in order to be considered genuine or the treble, they must win the very best trophies that are available for grabs at the highest level of football.

So for example, if a team in England won the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup, they will have completed the domestic treble as the League Cup is the secondary national cup on English shores.

To complete a genuine or the treble, a team must win their domestic league, the main domestic cup competition, and the premier continental title - UEFA Champions League. 

It’s worth mentioning here that winning Europe’s secondary prize, the UEFA Europa League, is permissible as far as being called a treble albeit it isn’t considered to be genuine by most fans who insist that it is a treble and not the treble.

All things considered, a team is said to have truly won the continental treble only if they win the domestic cup, the domestic league, and the top continental prize that is up for grabs.

Needless to say, not many teams have managed to complete the difficult task of completing the treble. Only seven teams in the history of European football have completed the treble. Scottish side Celtic was the first team to do the treble in 1966-67, while Dutch club Ajax was the second to do it in 1971-72.

Besides Celtic and Ajax, the other five teams to do the treble in football are PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Bayern Munich. Out of these seven sides, Barcelona and Bayern Munch are the only two sides to complete to treble twice.

Barcelona achieved the feat twice in 2008-09 and 2014-15 under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique respectively. Bayern Munich, meanwhile, completed the treble twice under the guidance of Jupp Heynckes and Hansi Flick in 2012-13 and 2019-20 respectively.

Continental treble winners

Team Treble Season(s)
Barcelona La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League 2008-09, 2014-15
Bayern Munich Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League 2012-13, 2019-20
Celtic Scottish League, Scottish Cup, European Cup 1966-67
Ajax Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, European Cup 1971-72
PSV Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, European Cup 1987-88
Manchester United Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League 1998-99
Inter Milan Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League 2009-10

Photo credit: Alamy