José Mourinho was on the verge of history, but his Roma side lost the UEFA Europa League final against Sevilla. Here, we look at which managers have won the most European titles.
José Mourinho had the chance to become the outright leader in the list of most European titles won by managers. But penalty shootouts are cruel. His Roma side lost the 2022-23 UEFA Europa League final on penalties to the kings of the competition, Sevilla.
For Mourinho, it was a sixth major European final (excluding the UEFA Super Cup) and a second in as many seasons in charge of Roma. He hadn’t lost any of his previous five, having guided the Giallorossi to success in the inaugural Europa Conference League last year.
But where does he rank among the managers with the most European titles?
Giovanni Trapattoni – Five
One of the most successful managers to grace the game in Europe. Trapattoni won trophies with Salzburg, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Juventus as a coach, though it was at the latter where most of his success came over two spells between 1976 and 1994.
Along with six Serie A titles, Trapattoni won all three of the major European trophies while in charge of the Bianconeri. First came the UEFA Cup in 1976-77, as the Old Lady beat Athletic Bilbao on away goals over two legs after a 2-2 aggregate draw to win their first title in Europe.
Seven years later they beat Porto 2-1 to lift the Cup Winners’ Cup, and the following season brought the biggest prize of them all: the European Cup. The match at Heysel Stadium was overshadowed by the deaths of 39 people, most of whom were Juventus fans, after they were forced against a collapsing wall following a breach by Liverpool supporters. Controversially, the game went ahead and Juve won 1-0, becoming the first club to win the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.
Trapattoni’s fifth and final European triumph came with Inter in 1991, edging an all-Italian UEFA Cup final with Roma 2-1 on aggregate thanks to their first-leg 2-0 victory in San Siro.
Jose Mourinho – Five
It’s been 20 years since Mourinho announced himself as one to watch in management. It was during the 2002-03 season that he lifted his first trophies, leading Porto to a Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal and UEFA Cup treble. Seville’s La Cartuja stadium was the scene of Mourinho’s maiden European success, seeing off Celtic 3-2 after extra time.
The following season famously saw Mourinho and Porto somehow top their UEFA Cup triumph. They toppled Manchester United in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, before then dispatching Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna en route to the final. Monaco, another side who upset the odds, awaited but were no match for Porto, who ultimately cruised to a 3-0 win.
Although that earned Mourinho a move to the Premier League and Chelsea, ‘The Special One’ didn’t enjoy European success again until 2010 when his Inter Milan side won the treble with Serie A, Coppa Italia and UCL glory. Diego Milito put Bayern Munich to the sword in the final, his brace clinching a 2-0 victory after they’d beaten Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Seven years on, Mourinho took Manchester United to the UEFA Europa League title, their first major European trophy in nine years, and then in 2021-22 he became the first manager to win the UEFA Europa Conference League during his debut campaign with the Giallorossi.
Carlo Ancelotti – Four
Had we counted the Super Cup and Intertoto Cup, Ancelotti would sit at the top of the pile, as his CV boasts nine European titles as a manager when those are taken into consideration – but we are only counting the Champions League/European Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup, Europa League/UEFA Cup and the Europa Conference League.
Still, Ancelotti does sit out in front when it comes to Champions League titles. All four of his triumphs in major European competition have come in UEFA’s flagship tournament. He enjoyed Champions League glory with AC Milan in 2002-03 and 2006-07, beating Juventus and Liverpool respectively.
Ancelotti’s other two Champions League successes came with Real Madrid. The first was the famous ‘Decima’, the Spanish giants’ 10th crown in Europe’s elite competition, which was secured by defeating local rivals Atlético Madrid.
The second was last season, as Karim Benzema inspired an astonishing run that saw Real Madrid battle back from the brink against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City before beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final. Los Blancos were once again the standard bearers in Europe, having won the competition three times in a row under Zinedine Zidane between 2016 and 2018.
We shouldn’t forget, Ancelotti also won the European Cup twice as a player under the legendary Arrigo Sacchi in 1989 and 1990.
Sir Alex Ferguson – Four
Of course, many associate Ferguson with a glorious 27-year spell with Manchester United, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that his first European title actually came with Aberdeen in 1982-83, in the form of the Cup Winners’ Cup thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Real Madrid after extra time.
Ferguson lifted the same trophy eight years later, this time beating Barcelona to enjoy a first taste of success on the continent with United. After another eight years, the Red Devils reigned supreme in Europe with their first Champions League/European Cup triumph in 31 years. One of the most iconic triumphs in the tournament’s modern history, stoppage-time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer downed Bayern Munich 2-1, thus securing the treble. No English team has repeated this feat since, though Manchester City could do it this term.
Ferguson retired in 2013, but he did add another Champions League trophy to the cabinet beforehand, with Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez firing them to the title in 2007-08.
Bob Paisley – Four
One of the most significant figures in Liverpool’s history, Paisley won nearly everything with the Reds – the FA Cup was the only major competition to elude him.
Nevertheless, four major European crowns will have more than made up for that. His first arrived in 1975-76 as Liverpool got the better of Club Brugge in the UEFA Cup.
Then came back-to-back European Cup triumphs in the next two seasons. The Reds beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 in May 1977, and just under 12 months later they once again defeated Brugge, with Kenny Dalglish’s goal decisive in a 1-0 win at Wembley.
Paisley then became the first manager to win the European Cup three times in 1981 as Liverpool emerged 1-0 victors over Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
Nereo Rocco – Four
Considered a major influence of Trapattoni, Rocco enjoyed considerable success across his two spells as Milan boss. His first yielded the club’s maiden major European title, the 1962-63 European Cup, which they won thanks to a 2-1 win over Benfica despite the great Eusébio putting SLB ahead.
Rocco left Milan for Torino in 1963 but was back in San Siro four years later. In his first season at the helm again, he won the Cup Winners’ Cup by beating Bundesliga side Hamburg in the final, and another European Cup success followed in 1968-69, with the Rossoneri thrashing Ajax 4-1 to take the crown.
At the end of his second spell in charge, Rocco guided Milan to another Cup Winners’ Cup title at the expense of Leeds United. He later returned as technical director in 1977.
Unai Emery – Four
The only manager on this list not to have won the European Cup/Champions League, but Emery’s successes shouldn’t be snorted at. All four of his European trophies have come in the Europa League, a figure bettered by no other manager.
Each of the first three came in successive seasons with Mourinho’s Wednesday opponents, Sevilla. A penalty shootout defeat of Benfica in Turin in 2014 earned the club their third title in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, having also won it back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Emery’s Sevilla then beat Dnipro a year later, before completing the three-peat in 2016 with a thrilling 3-1 win over Liverpool. He continued his apparent love affair with the competition in 2021, guiding Villarreal to victory over Manchester United in another penalty shootout.