A number of the greatest managers in history have established their reputation by achieving success in the Champions League, Europe's most prestigious club soccer competition. Winning this tournament is the pinnacle of achievement and is widely regarded as the most challenging feat in club soccer.

Today, we will explore the managers with the most UCL titles. Throughout the tournament's history, esteemed clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, and Liverpool have showcased remarkable performances, capturing the hearts of soccer fans worldwide. This includes Pep Guardiola’s Champions League wins, Sir Alex Ferguson's success at Manchester United, and the Real Madrid manager who won it three years in a row.

Who are the football managers with the most Champions League wins? Let’s find out.

Which manager has won the most Champions League titles ever?

When Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2022, Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti became the manager with the most Champions League titles.

The 2022 title was Ancelotti’s fourth, putting him clear of any other manager in the history of the tournament.

Top 10 Managers with most Champions League Titles in history

Out of the 16 managers who have won two Champions League titles, I have selected the top ten for their particularly remarkable achievements. It's important to give recognition to managers such as Vicente del Bosque, Jupp Heynckes, and Stefan Kovacs, who had impressive runs and narrowly missed out on making today's list.

  1. Ernst Happel

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: Feyenoord, Hamburger SV
Years won: 1970, 1983

Ernst Happel’s managerial career really took off when he led Dutch side Feyenoord to the Champions League title in 1970.

He would go on to take the Netherlands to the final of the World Cup in 1978 while in charge of their national side before returning to club soccer and eventually taking over Hamburger SV in Germany in 1981.

Two years later he won his second title, making him the first manager in Champions League history to win the title with two different clubs. Along with his Champions League success, Happel is one of just six managers to win domestic championships in at least four different countries, claiming the league title in Belgium, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

  1. Ottmar Hitzfeld

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich
Years won: 1997, 2001

Ottmar Hitzfeld is another of the six managers to win the Champions League title with two different clubs. The German manager earned a reputation for himself in club soccer in Switzerland before getting the job as the manager at Borussia Dortmund in 1991.

He won the league with Dortmund in 1995, and then two years later led them to the 1997 Champions League Final against Real Madrid. Dortmund were the underdog against Zinedine Zidane and co, but prevailed in the final 3-1.

From Dortmund he moved on to Bayern Munich in 1998 and was back in the Champions League final in 1999 against Manchester United, where they were within minutes of winning it before one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the competition snatched it away from them.

Bayern reached the semi final in 2000, but in 2001 knocked out both Real Madrid and Manchester United on their way back to the final, where Hitzfeld led them to a win over Valencia on penalties.

  1. Arrigo Sacchi

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: AC Milan
Years won: 1989, 1990

Arrigo Sacchi had been coaching for a decade before taking the job as the manager of AC Milan in 1987. He is credited for one of the greatest managerial decisions in team history with his move to bring in the Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, and Ruud Gullit.

By incorporating these three players into a team that already boasted an all-time great defense consisting of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi, and Mauro Tassotti, the Milan squad became one of the greatest in the club's history.

Sacchi helped Milan win the Serie A title in his first year in charge, marking their first in nine seasons. In 1989 Milan crushed Real Madrid 6-1 on aggregate in the Champions League semi final before meeting Steaua Bucharest in the final. Gullit and van Basten scored two goals apiece in a 4-0 win in the final, and Milan would return the following year and defend their title against Benfica.

Sacchi won back-to-back titles with Milan making it the first time any team had done so since 1980.

  1. Sir Alex Ferguson

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: Manchester United
Years won: 1999, 2008

Manchester United’s most legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson won two Champions League titles during his 28 years in charge of the club. During that time, he won a total of 38 trophies and is considered one of the greatest managers of all time as a result.

His first Champions League win came with the miracle last gasp comeback in 1999, when both Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored last minute goals to turn the game around against Bayern Munich.

Several years later in 2008 he won it a second time over fellow English club Chelsea. Edwin van der Sar had an inspired performance in goal that earned him the Man of the Match award, and United won 6-5 on penalties after the game was tied 1-1 at the end of regular time. 

  1. Brian Clough

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: Nottingham Forest
Years won: 1979, 1980

What Brian Clough was able to do as both the manager of Derby County and Nottingham Forest was outstanding. With Forest, he took a mediocre English club into European soccer competition and not only made them competitive but won the title. Then, not only did he win the title, which was remarkable in its own right, but did so in back-to-back years. That form has never been replicated with a club like Nottingham Forest since, from any league in Europe.

When Jose Mourinho first visited Nottingham Forest's stadium he couldn’t believe that the club won back to back European Championships. Clough was often outspoken and his level of belief in himself was widely considered arrogance, but when you win two Champions League titles with Nottingham Forest you can pretty much say and do whatever you like.

  1. Jose Mourinho

No. Titles won: Two
Teams: FC Porto, Inter Milan
Years won: 2004, 2010

What Jose Mourinho did while he was in charge of the 2004 Porto roster is one of the all time greatest success stories of any UCL teams to have won the trophy. Porto are one of the most unlikely Champions League teams to hoist the trophy in the tournament's history, and it was largely due to the tactical masterclass of their manager.

Porto had won the treble the year prior, with the Portuguese domestic double and the UEFA Cup trophy. They would then take their game to the Champions League, where they would compete with Europe’s powerhouse clubs without having anywhere near the same level of money to spend on the starting line up.

Porto defied all odds and made their way to the Champions League final that year against Monaco, where Mourinho won his first UCL title and quickly become one of the hottest managerial commodities in the game.

Amidst a phenomenally successful career, he claimed his second Champions League title with Inter Milan in 2010. The Italian club won 2-0 against Bayern Munich in the final, cementing Mourinho’s legacy as one of the managers with the most Champions League wins.

The Jose Mourinho Champions League at Porto will forever be a success story that everybody should hear. Soccer greatness.

  1. Bob Paisley

No. Titles won: Three
Teams: Liverpool
Years won: 1977, 1978, 1981

Bob Paisley’s tenure in charge of Liverpool saw him help the club to win an astonishing 20 trophies in nine seasons, including three Champions League titles in a five year span.

Paisley was following a legend in Bill Shankly into the manager's role at Liverpool, so expectations were already set remarkably high. Nut the new man in charge delivered and then some during his time as the clubs manager. He won six league titles, three league cups, the UEFA Cup and Super Cup and six Charity Shields along with the three Champions League titles.

The first of Bob Paisley’s Champions League titles came in 1977 when Liverpool defeated Borussia Monchengladbach in the final, and they defended that title the following season against Club Brugge. Three seasons later they picked up a third with a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the final, making Paisley one of only four managers to win three or more Champions League trophies.

Bob Paisley is a legend who was adored by both his Liverpool players and the fans, recognized at Anfield to this day. He is one of the coaches with the most Champions League titles and one of the best to grace the tournament.

  1. Zinedine Zidane

No. Titles won: Three
Teams: Real Madrid
Years won: 2016, 2017, 2018

French attacking midfielder Zinedine Zidane was a part of arguably the best Real Madrid team of all time, and won the Champions League with the team as a player in 2002. During his playing days Zidane won everything. He was the Ballon d’or winner in 1998 and won both the European cup in 2000 and World Cup in 2002 with France.

After retiring, Zidane took up an assistant coaching role with Real Madrid, which led to him taking charge of the B team (Real Madrid Castilla) as manager. He did such a strong job that he was promoted to managing the first team, which led to him becoming the first coach to win three Champions League titles in a row.

Under Zidane, Madrid never lost in a final. He is one of the all time great Real Madrid managers for his accomplishments while in charge, which left many surprised when he decided to step away from his role following the soccer treble of Champions leagues title in 2018.

He would come back for a second tenure, but nothing compared to that historic run from 2016 to 2018 when Real Madrid were near enough untouchable in the competition, winning finals against Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool.

  1. Pep Guardiola

No. Titles won: Three
Teams: Barcelona, Manchester City
Years won: 2009, 2011, 2023

Pep Guardiola helped to create one of the greatest soccer teams in the history of the game during the prime era of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and co. During that era, Barca were unstoppable, and won two Champions Leagues in three years while following Pep’s coaching philosophies.

Pep Guardiola’s treble with Barcelona was a crowning moment in his career, and recently he did it again, this time with English club Manchester City.

For all of his successes in England, many believed the question would always be ‘sure but has Pep Guardiola won the Champions League with Manchester City?’. They were big money spenders who built the roster that Pep wanted, but the Champions League had eluded him until the 2023 season.

Most Champions League winners are happy with one, but you could tell Pep wanted this one at City. His last win had been with Barca in 2011, and finally he overcame the obstacles to bring the title to Manchester City for the first time in club history.

Pep Guardiola’s Champions League titles now equal three, making him one of the four most successful managers in the competition's history. He’s a masterful tactician who’s attention to detail surrounding the game is unprecedented, helping to bring him a wealth of success in his managerial career.

Guardiola brought City their first Champions League title, and is now the clubs leader in all time manager wins, having been highly successful in his time in Manchester since taking over in 2016.

  1. Carlo Ancelotti

No. Titles won: Four
Teams: AC Milan, Real Madrid
Years won: 2003, 2007, 2014, 2022

Carlo Ancelotti’s Champions League wins surpass those of any other manager in history. He has four, and almost five.

Ancelotti won his first Champions League title in 2003 while in charge at AC Milan. The Italian side were a force and defeated rivals Juventus in an all Italian Champions League final on penalties.

Two years later with what might have been the greatest AC Milan starting 11 of all time, Ancelotti took them back to the Champions League Final, and they were cruising at 3-0 at half time against Liverpool.

Unfortunately for Milan, Liverpool fought back in what is now considered the greatest Champions League final of all time, bringing it back to 3-3 and winning on penalties. Ancelotti did however get his own back in 2007, when the UCL final saw a rematch between Milan and Liverpool. This time, Milan took a 2-0 lead and held out to win the trophy, despite an 89th minute goal from Liverpool that saw the game end 2-1.

Fast forward to 2013 and Ancelotti was now in charge at Real Madrid, having taken over from Jose Mourinho. They faced Atletico Madrid in a tense rivalry fueled Champions League final in 2014, and on the verge of losing 1-0 Sergio Ramos equalized in the 93rd minute for Real to force extra time.

Once the game went into extra time Real Madrid ran away with it, leading 4-1 by the time the final whistle blew. After spells with Bayern Munich, Napoli and Everton, Ancelotti returned to Real Madrid in 2021, and one year later won his fourth Champions League title, putting him clear of any other manager in competition history.

Parameters for ranking

These coaches have been ranked based on the number of Champions League titles they won. Where the managers are level on wins, they have been ranked based on the difficulty of the wins they’ve achieved, such as Jose Mourinho winning the competition with Porto.

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