Often the most obvious indicator of a club's success is how many honours they have collected throughout their history? One who certainly have no reason to hide when posed this question are Rosenborg Ballklub, better known simply as Rosenborg, who boast an impressive 22 top-flight titles and nine Norwegian cups.
Yet judging its country's most successful side by the considerable content of their trophy cabinet would barely do them justice. It is not just the number of titles, but also the way in which they won them. Between 1992 and 2004, Rosenborg claimed an astonishing 13 consecutive championship crowns. No wonder they are considered among the greatest all-time Scandinavian teams.
Birth of an institution
Rosenborg's rise to prominence began exactly 94 years ago, when a group of boys in Trondheim decided to form their own football club. They came up with the rather peculiar name of 'Odd', a tribute to the most successful team in the country at the time, Odd Skien.
After rebranding themselves as Rosenborg Ballklub in 1927, their development was rapid. In 1931, RBK competed in the Norwegian A-League for the first time, before entering their first national cup competition 24 months later. Surprisingly, it would take nearly 30 more years for the club to finally lift its first trophy, though the story of that initial triumph is one only football could have written.
Fittingly, Rosenborg's opponents in the 1960 Norwegian Cup final were Odd Skien, their original namesakes. In hindsight, their 3-2 victory proved to be a major turning point. While Odd Skien have won just one further trophy since, Rosenborg have gone on to dominate Norwegian football irreversibly. That said, Odd Skien still maintain the record for most cup triumphs, with 12 to RBK's nine.
Making of a legend
In subsequent years, the Troillongan (Troll Kids) became unstoppable. Their next cup victory followed in 1964 and Europe was next for the emerging giants. The legend continued to grow with a first national title in the inaugural Norwegian 1. Liga season in 1967 and, following a second championship in 1969, the club eventually claimed their first domestic league and cup double under the tutelage of Nils Arne Eggen in 1971.
But then came the shocks. Not only did RBK suffer a 9-1 hammering at the hands of Hibernian in the UEFA European Cup in 1974, the biggest defeat in their history, just three years later they were made to endure its first - and to date only - relegation to the second tier. Thankfully Eggen returned to the helm and led Rosenborg back into the top flight at the first time of asking.
The Trondheim-based club soon rediscovered their Midas touch and in 1992 began their incredible run of 13 straight titles, second only to Skonto Riga of Latvia (14 consecutive titles) worldwide. Six more doubles established Rosenborg as the undoubted powerhouse of Norwegian, if not Scandinavian, football.
Perhaps the only thing missing from Rosenborg's remarkable vita is success on the continent. Surprise victories over Real Madrid (2-0, 1997) and AC Milan (2-1, 1996) in the UEFA Champions League aside, the club's only claim to fame was reaching the group stage of Europe's premier club competition for seven consecutive years between 1995 and 2002, a record which was eventually broken by Manchester United in 2004.
Even so, regular participation in the Champions League has helped ensure the club's continued dominance on the domestic scene. In 2010, Rosenborg wrote a new chapter in Norwegian football history by becoming the first team ever to go an entire Tippeligaen season without a single defeat.
Having celebrated a total of 15 titles (two as a player, 13 as coach), Nils Arne Eggen is undeniably the most successful figure in the club's history. "One of Rosenborg's greatest strengths is our belief in every part of the organisation," explained the former defender. Indeed, the club's renowned youth system has borne fruit numerous times, with many young talents going on to ply their trade with Europe's best-known clubs.
Rosenborg's domestic supremacy is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so the challenge now is to assert themselves on the European stage. Whether they can do so remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: the foundations have been laid.
Though the Lerkendal Stadium was originally built in the 1930s, Rosenborg did not become official tenants until 1947. Following various reconstructions during the 1960s, the old structure was replaced by a brand new arena in 1995. The new Lerkendal Stadium is now the second-largest in Norway behind the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, with a capacity of almost 21,200.
- 22 Norwegian Championships (1967, 1969, 1971, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992–2004, 2006, 2009, 2010)
- 9 Norwegian Cups (1959/60, 1964, 1971, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2003)
- 1 Norwegian Super Cup (2010)
Nils Arne Eggen (1960-63, 1966-69), Rune Bratseth (1983-86), John Carew (1999-2000), Bent Skammelsrud (1991-97, 1998-2002), Didier Ya Konan (2007-09)
*The honours listed above are considered to be the club’s major titles and, as such, are not intended to be a full list of achievements.