Fans enjoy football for various reasons; the atmosphere of a match, the connection with fellow supporters, the sense of local pride, or a pure love of tactics and strategy. However, having worked their way up through academies and youth teams to make it to the top of the game, professional players are typically there for just one thing: to try and compete to win trophies.
Whether it's a league title or promotion in the lower divisions, a play-off win to reach the Premier League, an FA Cup triumph or a shining European success, most players will be desperate to win something during the course of their careers. But the fact is, for many people this will just be a dream. Winning trophies in football is extremely difficult, and many top players retire having never got their hands on any pieces of elusive silverware.
That's what makes the careers of the most decorated players so impressive. And in this article, we're going to be paying tribute to the stars whose homes are packed with medals and awards. We're going to work our way through the top 10 players with the most trophies in soccer, before letting you know the special individual who has the most trophies in soccer of all time.
As you'd expect, there's plenty of competition when it comes to pinpointing the soccer player with the most trophies. A number of players from across the world have consistently lit up the biggest stages in football, from the World Cup to the Champions League, and in various domestic competitions.
Below you'll find the 10 players with the most trophies in soccer history.
Kenny Dalglish made history as manager of Blackburn Rovers in the 1994/95 season, winning them the Premier League title for the first time during a decade that was dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson's rampant Manchester United side featuring the likes of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, and Ryan Giggs (more on him shortly).
However, it was the Scotsman's playing career that made him a household name, and the list of trophies he won during his time at Celtic and Liverpool was astonishing. In total, Dalglish won 35 trophies including six First Division titles, an FA Cup, and perhaps most impressively, three European Cups in 1977-78, 1980-81, and 1983-84.
The evolution of Cristiano Ronaldo as a player since his debut for Lisbon giant Sporting CP in 2002 is remarkable. After making his name as a tricky winger in Portugal, CR7 moved to United and developed his game significantly, becoming a star player in Fergie's hugely successful teams of the mid-late 2000s.
However, it was at Real Madrid that Ronaldo transformed himself into a goal-scoring machine, a physically dominant central forward with lethal finishing skills.
He has become one of the greatest players of all time and in the process won a remarkable 35 trophies (joint with Dalglish) including domestic titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus, a European Championship with Portugal, and three consecutive Champions League wins with Madrid.
Ryan Giggs was a sensation for Manchester United throughout the 1990s and 2000s, becoming a Premier League stalwart and gaining a reputation for pin-point passes and searching crosses (he's the player with the eighth most assists in soccer history).
His time with the Red Devils coincided with the most successful period in the club's history; Giggs won a record 13 Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, and multiple FA Cup and League Cups. The fact that his national team Wales wasn't even qualifying for major tournaments during this time (let alone winning them) makes the fact that he's on this list even more impressive.
Over the summer, Sergio Busquets called time on an extraordinary playing spell at La Liga giants Barcelona, joining Lionel Messi at Inter Miami in the twilight of his career. He left Spain's top division having become one of the most successful players in its history; in 15 years as a mainstay in the Barca first team, Busquets won a total of 36 trophies.
This remarkable tally includes La Liga titles, Copa Del Reys, and three Champions League victories. Crucially, Busquets also had a huge amount of success with the Spanish national team, playing an important role in both the 2010 World Cup win and the 2012 European Championship triumph.
While Busquets marshalled the midfield, he was given crucial protection at the back — for both Barcelona and Spain — by the ever-dependable Gerard Pique. The towering centre-back collected 37 trophies during a glittering playing career, including eight La Ligas, 4 Champions League, a World Cup, and a Premier League title during his brief spell with Manchester United.
Pique will go down in history as one of the most pivotal players in the famous Barca sides of the late noughties and early 2010s.
You're probably noticing a bit of a theme here — this list is packed with Barca players of the 2000s and 2010s, and it's no surprise when you think about it; the teams of Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and to a lesser extent Ernesto Valverde were extremely successful during this time, and they played a crucial role in the evolution of possession football and the so-called tiki taka playing philosophy.
And at the core of the Barca midfield between 2002 and 2018, making a whopping 674 appearances in total, was Andres Iniesta. A wonderful passer with fantastic movement, an unstoppable creative spark, and a knack for moments of flair (underlined by his invention of the La Croqueta skill), Iniesta was the heartbeat of multiple great Barcelona teams, and his hugely impressive trophy tally of 37 is a testament to that.
Next is a player who doesn't enjoy quite the same status within the European game as the likes of Pique or Iniesta, but who actually won just as many trophies as them, many of which came for that same Barcelona team.
Maxwell joined the Catalan side in 2008 having already won a raft of trophies at other clubs; after moving to Europe from his native Brazil in 2001, he played a crucial role in two Eredivisie title wins with Ajax, before joining Inter and winning Serie A on three occasions.
He then enjoyed a superb few season in La Liga before heading to France and notching up four Ligue 1 titles with PSG. It's a seriously impressive haul of 37 trophies that can often go under the radar when compared to the likes of Iniesta or Messi.
Perhaps the least familiar name on this list for European football fans is legendary Egyptian defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour, who thanks to his remarkable consistency and quality at the heart of Egyptian giants Al-Ahly's midfield for 17 years, has gathered together a ridiculous amount of trophies.
Al-Ahly's dominance over their domestic division in recent years means Ashour has won a total of 13 league titles, as well as four Egypt Cups and 10 Egypt Super Cups. However, his exploits on the African continent are also seriously impressive, with Ashour having won six African Champions League trophies and six African Super Cups, bringing his haul at the club to a staggering 39 trophies.
In terms of numbers, there's now a bit of a jump up to the top two most decorated players in soccer history. In second place, it's Brazilian full-back Dani Alves, who until very recently was the joint-most decorated player in soccer history.
His 43 trophies include La Liga triumphs with Barcelona, two UEFA Cups with Sevilla, two Copa Americas with Brazil and a number of cups and titles with Parisian giants PSG during the latter stages of his playing career.
However, in the last year, a dark shadow has been cast over Alves' career, as he currently awaits a potential 15-year jail sentence after being indicted for a sexual assault charge in August 2023.
You knew this was coming, surely? The player with the most trophies in professional soccer history in Lionel Messi, with 44 trophies to date.
Argentina legend Lionel Messi is adored in his home country, his heroics during the 2022 World Cup and 2021 Copa America ensuring his name was etched down in history as an equal to the late great Diego Maradona.
However, these tournament wins with his national team have also helped shoot him toward the top of the leaderboard when it comes to the players with the most trophies in soccer history — and back in August, a historic Leagues Cup win with Inter Miami catapulted him to the very top of the list. Lionel Messi has won pretty much everything there is to win, accumulating a staggering 44 trophies in his dazzling career.
In that list are 10 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League victories, a World Cup, a Copa America, and two Ligue 1s with PSG (as well as tons of individual awards including a record seven Ballon d'Ors). What's remarkable is that on the pitch he shows no signs of stopping; could there be an MLS Cup win with Inter Miami around the corner, or even a further tournament triumph with Argentina?
On top of this list, there are tons of hugely influential, hugely talented football players who have made a major impact on the game but have not won quite enough trophies to land themselves in this top 10 list. If you'd like to find out more about some legends of the game, check out our article on the 9 best soccer players of all time.