These sides have been the standout performers in the national-level competition.

The Santosh Trophy 2022 proved to be a resounding success, with the Indian football fraternity showering it a lot of love. The packed crowds, thrilling games, and love for the tournament helped sustain its reputation as one of the most coveted ongoing competitions in Indian Football.

Kerala, helped by the home advantage, proved to be victorious in the final. They defeated a talented West Bengal team in the penalty shootout, redeeming the massive support the locals had given them. In doing so, Kerala climbed to third place among teams with the most number of Santosh Trophy titles in history. So here we’ll look at the top five most successful teams in the competition’s history.

5. Goa

Goa Santosh Trophy
They pipped Bengal 4-2 on penalties to win the 2009 Santosh Trophy (Courtesy: TOI)

Goa is widely recognized as one of the genuine football-crazy hubs in India. The previous few Indian Super League (ISL) seasons have taken place there. Subsequently, FC Goa have earned its reputation as one of the best teams in India in recent years. Goa has also produced some quality footballers for Indian football on a consistent basis over the last few decades. As a result, they’ve been quite successful in the Santosh Trophy too.

Goa has won the competition five times in history and been runners-up eight times as well. The last time Goa won the competition was in the 2008/09 season when they defeated West Bengal on penalties. While their prolonged title drought has been surprising, Goa still holds its position as one of the most decorated teams in Santosh Trophy history.

4. Services

Services Santosh Trophy
Services last lifted the title in 2019 (Courtesy: AIFF Media)

The Services team is made up of players from the Indian Army, Indian Navy Forces, and Air Force. They have a very unique history in the Santosh Trophy. The first time the Services team won the Santosh Trophy was way back in the 1960-61 season, in which they defeated Bengal over two games. After that, they endured a four-decade-long drought in the competition. Services’ next Santosh Trophy success came in the 2011-12 season when they defeated Odisha in a thriller.

It was almost as if that signified a change in fortunes for them. From 2012 to 2019, Services would go on to win the Santosh Trophy four times! The last time they won was in the 2018/19 season, defeating Punjab in the final. Their success in the last decade has helped take Services’ Santosh Trophy tally to six titles, making them one of the competition’s heavyweights.

3. Kerala

Kerala Football Team
The winners of the 2022 Santosh Trophy have now won seven titles (Courtesy: AIFF Media)

Kerala solidified themselves as the third-most successful team in the history of the Santosh Trophy with their latest success. The 2021/22 season title win was their most dominant too. They scored 26 goals in five games, including seven in the semi-finals against Karnataka. After winning the latest Santosh Trophy competition, Kerala has successfully taken their total tally to seven.

They have won the competition four times since the turn of the new century and have also reached the finals on eight separate occasions in the history of the competition. With the upwards trajectory in which Kerala football is headed, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them dominate this competition in the next years to come.

2. Punjab

They last won the title in 2008 (Courtesy: Onmanorama)

Punjab has also been a prominent hub in producing quality talent for India ever since the country’s independence. Some of Indian football’s greatest icons, Jarnail Singh, Inder Singh, and Manjit Singh all came up from Punjab. Because of their impressive work in developing brilliant footballers, Punjab has been one of the Santosh Trophy’s real giants for many decades.

They’re also the second-most successful team in the competition’s history, having won it eight times and been runners-up just as many times. However, Punjab’s fortunes have dried up in the competition, which they last won in the 2007-08 season. They have lost three separate finals since, but despite that, Punjab remains one of the greatest teams in Santosh Trophy history.

1. West Bengal

West Bengal
West Bengal with 32 titles are the most successful team in Santosh Trophy history (Courtesy: TOI)

They might’ve lost in the final hurdle in the recently-concluded Santosh Trophy, but West Bengal still sits comfortably at the top of the all-time Santosh Trophy medal table. They have won the Santosh Trophy a remarkable 32 times in the 75 editions which have taken place so far. Having the reputation of being the Mecca of Indian football, West Bengal has benefitted from constantly producing some of the country’s best-ever footballers.

Their most successful period was in the 1990s when they won the competition for six consecutive years from 1994 to 1999. They won the competition four times in a row during the late 1940s to early 1950s and five times in a row from 1976 to 1980. They have more titles than the four teams behind them have won combined together. It’s safe to say it’ll take something truly remarkable for West Bengal to be dethroned as the most successful team in Santosh Trophy history in the future.

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