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Fame, Fans and Fortune: The World’s Top 10 Sports Teams

If you ask people who they think is the world’s most successful sports team, you’ll get thousands of different answers. How do you even define success in sports? By the number of awards and trophies won? The biggest market share? The number of fans worldwide? It’s no easy or clear-cut question to answer.

So, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 teams from various sports played around the world whose histories simply scream success. They’re the teams who have it all: fame, fans, fortune and a bulging trophy cabinet that shows how they made their mark on the shaping of their chosen sport.

Rugby Union: New Zealand All Blacks

Image: the All Blacks performing the haka

Nobody can deny the supremely successful track record of New Zealand’s national rugby team: the All Blacks. With no fewer than 10 Tri Nations wins and World Cup victories in 1987 and 2011, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Since 1903 the All Blacks have an almost 75 per cent winning ratio out of all matches they have ever played and they are the only international rugby team with a recorded win against every test nation to have ever stood against them.

Not only does the roll of victories speak for itself, but the New Zealand All Blacks have won respect and adoration around the world. They continue to make new fans with their dazzling displays of skill and their ferocious haka, the ritualistic challenge that inspires them to greater feats of athleticism.

Football (Soccer): Manchester United

With football secure in its place as the most popular sport in the world, it takes some doing to remain at the top of your game and continually impress a global audience. However, that’s exactly what Manchester United has managed to do during its incredibly long-lived string of successes.

Manchester United has won the most titles in English Football, with 53 domestic titles and a record 19 league titles. The Red Devils are no slouches in bringing home international silverware either, including 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and a FIFA Club World Cup.

From the USA to India, from Scandinavia to Australia, ask anyone who knows a little about football, and names like Sir Alex Ferguson, Old Trafford, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona will no doubt strike a chord and an admiring smile.

One important measure of success in any world-beating team is consistency. Manchester United have proven time and time again that they can rise to the top and take on all comers. However, could this year’s season be the one where their dominance is broken? The 6-1 drubbing at the hands of deadly rivals Manchester City has had everyone sit up and take notice.

Baseball: New York Yankees

Image: Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Bill Dickey

Even a person who’s never seen a ball game in their life will probably be able to tell you that the New York Yankees are a baseball team if you asked them. There’s a reason for that.

The New York Yankees are baseball’s most decorated team of all time having won no fewer than 27 World Series Championships. Their team roster includes such legends as Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra and, of course, Babe Ruth.

The Yankees’ glory days aren’t behind them though. They are still the league leaders in terms of revenue and won the World Series as recently as 2009.

Basketball: Boston Celtics

Image: The Boston Celtics logo

If ever there was an NBA team with a history to be proud of, it would be the Boston Celtics. Despite a fall from grace in the 1990s, the Celtics have come back with a vengeance, hoping to recapture the kind of glory days that marked their dynasty’s utter dominance of the NBA throughout the ’50s up until the mid ’80s.

With an astonishing 11 league championship wins in 13 years, 8 of them consecutive wins (1959-66) the Celtics can doubtlessly be called one of the most successful basketball teams of all time.

As you can see from their logo, the Celtics proudly display Boston’s Irish heritage. And with the luck of the Irish, there’s little doubt that they’ll continue to rack up NBA championships in the future!

Basketball: Los Angeles Lakers

Image: Kobe Bryant

The rising stars of the NBA, the LA Lakers are another world-beating franchise. With 16 NBA championships under their belt (several snatched from the legendary Celtics) and a whole host of ‘most valuable players’ making their mark on the team, the LA Lakers have been the team to beat in recent years.

As of 2011, Forbes counts the Lakers as the NBA’s second most valuable franchise, with a whopping $643 million valuation, narrowly second only to the New York Knicks ($655 million). With so many overseas fans taking flights to LA to see the Lakers play, they have little trouble packing out the court on game night.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant – need we say more?

American Football: Dallas Cowboys

Image: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Though debates on which is the best current NFL team carry on long into the night every Sunday and Monday across America, the Dallas Cowboys are undoubtedly one of, if not the most successful American football franchise of all time.

The Cowboys have the singular honour of holding an unchallenged record for 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985). When it comes to the Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys are on equal footing with the Pittsburgh Steelers with 8 appearances each.

However, when it comes to the sheer amount of monetary value that is attached to the Cowboys, all their opponents fade away. In 2009 Forbes Magazine valued the franchise at a mighty $1.65 billion, making them the wealthiest NFL team of all time.

American Football: San Francisco 49ers

Image: The 49ers face off against the Texans

Along with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, the San Francisco 49ers make up the three teams that dominate the Super Bowl records. The 49ers had their hot streak in the 1980s with four of their Super Bowl wins.

The 49er teams of the late ’80s and ’90s helped plant the seal of approval on the franchise’s dynasty status with legendary names like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Steve Young all gracing the field with 49er shirts to bring lasting football fame to the team.

Cricket: Yorkshire County Cricket Club

Image: Headingley cricket ground, England

Yorkshire might have been riding some serious peaks and troughs compared to their years of dominance over English county cricket in the post WWII years up until the ’70s, but there’s no denying that their record speaks for itself.

Yorkshire is the most successful English cricket team with a stunning 31 county championships under its weighty belt.

Most of Yorkshire’s games are played at the spectacular Headingley Stadium in Leeds which has over 100 years of cricketing history wrapped up in its revered grounds.

Cricket: Chennai Super Kings

Image: Makhaya Ntini

The rise of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Twenty20 cricket in the past three years has captured the imagination of cricket lovers the world over. Nothing represents this spirit of new, fast-paced and fiery cricket like the Chennai Super Kings.

Having won the IPL twice and reached the play-offs each season, the Chennai Super Kings are starting their dynasty like they mean it. It may be early days yet for both the team and the league that they play in but already they’ve established a solid track record, a devoted fan following, and a franchise valued at an estimated US $70 million.

Ice Hockey: Montreal Canadiens

Founded back in 1909, the Montreal Canadiens are the only team who actually predate the inception of the National Hockey League itself.

When it comes to heavy duty silverware, the Canadiens leave other teams in the dust, or in this case smoking ice trails. They have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times, more than any other team.