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Santosh Trophy: Top five winners of the competition

A total of 13 states have lifted the Santosh Trophy to date. Check out the top five most santosh trophy winners.

Moinak Banerjee
Last updated: 09.03.2024
most santosh trophy winners

The National Football Championship or the Santosh Trophy has a big place in Indian football history. The competition between the states, started in 1941 by the IFA but managed by AIFF now, historically has produced the greats of the country’s game and remains a talent producer despite not at the same rate as before. It was considered the top domestic tournament in the country before the late 1990s and is still a matter of pride for the winning side. The legacy of the Santosh Trophy is uncompromised with the competition expected to build more memories ahead.

So far 40 teams have participated in the Santosh Trophy with 38 being active today. Dacca and Hyderabad are not associated with the tournament anymore. Only 15 have managed to get their hands on the trophy with nine of them tasting success more than once. Most had defined an era forever inscribed into those states’ legacy in the sport. Tamil Nadu and Meghalaya are the only sides to have reached the final but have not been able to win the competition even once. Karnataka won the Santosh Trophy when the knockout round was held in a foreign land, Saudi Arabia, in 2023 for the first time in its history.        

Here are the top five winners of the Santosh Trophy: 

Goa - 5 (1982-83 (joint), 1983-84, 1989-90, 2005-06, 2008-09)

One of the top teams in the Santosh Trophy was Goa who won the competition five times out of eight finals reached in total. Their first success came as joint-winners with West Bengal in 1983 and they went on to retain the trophy the next year. Goa went on to add three more trophies to the name with the last one coming in the 2008-09 campaign. The team also made it to four consecutive finals from 1996 to 1999 but could only finish as the runners-up. The 1983-84 was probably the best campaign Goa had in the Santosh Trophy after winning all the games and keeping a clean sheet in each of them to lift the title.  

Services - 6 (1960-61, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2018-19)

Even after winning their first Santosh Trophy in 1961, Services did not make a notable impact on the competition until post-2010. In the last decade, they won the silverware more times than any other side and also won it back-to-back twice. The 50-year wait for the trophy was over in 2012. The memorable campaign for Services came in 2014 when they sneaked in just one goal and remained unbeaten throughout, winning on penalties against Punjab in the final.           

Kerala - 7 (1973-74, 1991-92, 1992-93, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2017-18, 2021-22)

Kerala’s prominent shows in the Santosh Trophy are spread over different decades with their first silverware coming in the 1973-74 campaign in their first-ever final appearance. Legendary footballer from the state, TKS Mani scored seven goals in that edition. However, it was Jesin TK’s 12 goals in the 2021-22 winning campaign that put him on top of the scoring list from his region. Kerala appeared in the final 15 times and won seven of them. They also finished as runners-up in four consecutive finals between 1987 to 1990.

Punjab - 8 (1970-71, 1974-75, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1987-88, 2006-07, 2007-08)


In the 16 final appearances, Punjab managed to claim the Santosh Trophy eight times which makes them second most winners of the competition. They asserted their dominance in the early 1970s to late 1980s when Bengal was not winning it. After 1988, the northern Indian state managed just two final appearances before tasting success again in 2007. After their last title in 2007-08, Punjab managed to reach three finals with the recent one in the 2018-19 season but came second-best every time.         

West Bengal - 32 (1941–42, 1945–46, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1951–52, 1953–54, 1955–56, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1962–63, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982-83 (joint), 1986–87, 1988–89, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2016–17)


By far, Bengal are the most successful team in the Santosh Trophy with an unprecedented 32 titles to their name. At least, a whooping 24 more than their closest challengers Punjab. They were the winners of the inauguration winners and also the first winners of the title post-independence. Their success coincides with the Indian men’s football team's golden era which predominantly had players from the state. Bengal also won four or more consecutive finals three times in the competition's history with the highest-ever winning margin in a final coming in the 5-0 victory over Hyderabad in 1950. Despite reaching two recent finals in 2018 and 2022, West Bengal’s last Santosh Trophy triumph remains seven years ago.

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