The Ecstasy of Ending a Trophy Drought

No matter how big or small, winning a trophy is a joyous occasion for any football fan. But things get especially sweeter after a long spell of heartbreak and disappointment. 

Most sports fans spend the majority of their time in agony. There can only be one winner in the end, and chances are your team will finish the season disappointed more times than not (unless you support Real Madrid, Manchester City, or Bayern Munich).

But it’s the consistent agony of defeat that makes victory so sweet. There is no feeling as a football fan better than watching your club win silverware. I know this from recent experience. In the past week alone, two of my clubs — Manchester United and Olympiacos — hoisted a trophy of their own, and currently, my camera roll is full of trophy pics like I was there celebrating with each team.

Winning a trophy is great, but the only thing that could make the feeling more intense is ending a lengthy trophy drought. Let’s take a look at a handful of clubs that recently ended long spells of trophy-less seasons.


Since the arrival of manager Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta have been one of Italy’s most consistent and entertaining teams. However, up until this year they had no trophies to show for their beautiful brand of football.

Since 2019, La Dea have lost three Coppa Italia finals, including in 2024, where they fell to Juventus 1-0. Just one week later, Atalanta would end their run of nightmarish losses and brought home a trophy to Bergamo with a 3-0 Europa League final victory over a previously undefeated Bayer Leverkusen. An Ademola Lookman hat trick ended a 61-year trophy drought for the club, while also earning Atalanta’s first-ever European trophy.

The celebration scenes were wild, and the catharsis that comes with a fairy tale finish was palpable.

Athletic Club

Bilbao are one of Europe’s most unique clubs, with a squad building strategy few other teams employ. Only fielding players that are either native Basque or who have trained in the greater Basque Country in Spain, Athletic’s options are more limited than some of their rivals, but it’s come with plenty of success.

Entering the 2023-24 season, they had 24 Copa del Rey trophies, only second to Barcelona. However, their last title came 40 years ago. Athletic Club has fell agonizingly short of ending that drought plenty of times since, finishing runners-up in the Copa del Rey five times in the past 15 years.

The sixth time would be the charm this year for Bilbao, as the Basque side defeated Mallorca on penalties to earn their 25th title.

This season felt different from the previous ones in which they fell short. Victories over Barcelona in the quarterfinals and Atletico Madrid in the semifinals, brought an air of inevitability heading into the final. Brothers Nico and Iñaki Williams were crucial in the run, and the underrated Oihan Sancet was the goal scorer in the final.

With Europa League football next season, Bilbao will be one of the better teams in the competition. And with the new format having no Champions League teams trickling down, Bilbao will look to continue Spanish domination in Europa.


Ligue 1 has been heavily dominated by PSG since the Qatari takeover at Parc des Princes. However, in the Coupe de France, other teams have been able to find some pathway to silverware. One of the more recent stories of success is last season’s winner, Toulouse.

Les Violets defeated the then-defending champions Nantes 5-1 in the final, giving the club its first-ever trophy since it was founded in 1970.

Despite finishing 13th in the league, Toulouse had something to write home about, and their fans will always remember the 2023 Coupe de France.

West Ham United

The addition of the UEFA Conference League was questioned by the football world. How serious would people take Europe’s third-rate competition?

Three years in, and most doubts have dissipated, as the competition has brought a singular feeling to all three winners — European glory. For last year’s winner West Ham United, the victory didn’t just re-instill continental pedigree, it brought back the ecstasy of hoisting a trophy. The Conference League was West Ham’s first such triumph since winning the EFL Championship in 1981.

In the season prior to the Conference League triumph, West Ham were close to glory, but narrowly fell short to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semifinals. A year later, they achieved it beating Fiorentina 2-1 in the final after a Jarrod Bowen 90th-minute winner. Although the competition may be tertiary, that never stopped West Ham fans from singing that they were champions of Europe for the past year.

West Ham have had a rough go of it during their 42-year trophy drought, having been demoted to the Championship a couple of times. David Moyes arrived in 2019 and the Hammers haven’t looked back since. Players like Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen have improved year after year. A Joga Bonito baller in Lucas Paqueta has displayed his wonderful skill. Top-half finishes and three consecutive years in Europe under Moyes had the Hammers dreaming. And on that night in Prague last year, West Ham fans’ dreams were achieved.

Leave a Reply