Some footballers view the game as a tremendous passion, while others see it as a pathway to fame. However, their ultimate goal remains the same – winning titles. Whether it’s team accomplishments or individual achievements, trophies represent the lifelong dream of every young boy who aspires to be a football player. Among the most prestigious honors are three in particular – the individual accolade of the Ballon d’Or, the club-level glory of the Champions League, and the national stage triumph of the World Cup. Currently, we have been fortunate enough to witness the rise of 9 football legends who can proudly display these three unique distinctions in their collection of awards. Today, we will delve into their remarkable careers.
Bobby Charlton, the iconic forward, holds the distinction of being the first footballer to proudly boast all three coveted accolades on his illustrious resume. Impressively, he achieved this remarkable feat within a mere two-year timeframe. In 1966, his pivotal role in England’s triumphant World Cup victory earned him a well-deserved place in history. Notably, his crucial goals against Portugal’s Eusébio in the semifinals were the gateway to the highly anticipated final at Wembley. Charlton’s exceptional performance during the tournament garnered him the prestigious Ballon d’Or, the ultimate individual recognition of that year. Continuing his illustrious journey, the following season witnessed Charlton and his Manchester United teammates lifting the coveted European Cup. Despite scoring only two goals throughout the championship, his strikes proved to be decisive in the intense 120-minute final clash against Benfica, where he once again faced off against the legendary Eusébio. Undoubtedly, the honorary title “Sir” fittingly accompanies the name of this esteemed football legend, Bobby Charlton.
No amount of praise can do justice to the legendary status of the National Team’s Bomber. This extraordinary striker has left an indelible mark on the history of football as one of the most relentless goal scorers, amassing numerous trophies for both West Germany and Bayern Munich. He played a pivotal role in ushering in Bayern’s golden era, leading his team to three consecutive European Cup victories. However, Müller experienced heartbreak in the 1970 World Cup, despite his remarkable tally of 10 goals and 2 assists, as West Germany fell short in the semifinals against Italy. Nonetheless, four years later, on home soil, the German squad dominated their way to World Cup glory, with Müller finding the net in every single match of the tournament. In recognition of his exceptional talent, Müller was honored with the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1970, alongside his countless other accolades, including triumph in the 1972 European Championship and multiple individual top scorer awards.
In the realm of defense, Franz Beckenbauer stands as the equivalent to Gerd Müller. This exceptional defender revolutionized global football trends during the 1970s and his undeniable individual and club accomplishments speak for themselves. With three consecutive European Cup trophies, the 1974 World Cup title, and two Ballon d’Or honors as the best player of the year, Beckenbauer indelibly left his mark on the sport’s history. Furthermore, he belongs to an exclusive group of individuals who have achieved the remarkable feat of winning the World Cup both as a player and as a coach. Attempting to encapsulate the sheer class of a player of Beckenbauer’s caliber with mere words is an impossible endeavor.
The enigmatic forward holds one of the most cherished titles in the annals of Italian football, even though fate almost prevented him from gracing the global stage. In 1980, Rossi found himself entangled in the infamous “Totonero” scandal, resulting in an initial three-year ban from professional football alongside 22 other players. Despite this setback, Rossi’s star was on the rise during those very years, capturing the attention of Juventus, who decided to secure his services despite their inability to field him. Eventually, his suspension was reduced to two years, paving the way for Rossi to embark on the journey to the World Cup in Spain. It was there that the Italian striker showcased his exceptional talents. During the second group stage, Italy faced off against perennial favorites Brazil, and Paolo Rossi delivered a performance of a lifetime. His remarkable hat-trick against the “Seleção” ignited jubilation in Italy and instilled tremendous hope for the coveted title, ultimately secured through a fierce battle against West Germany. Thus, Paolo Rossi etched his name in the annals of FIFA World Cup history, deservedly receiving the prestigious Ballon d’Or in the unforgettable year of 1982. He subsequently repaid Juventus for their unwavering faith by conquering the club scene as well. The pinnacle of his accomplishments came during the 1984/85 season when the “Old Lady” triumphed in the European Cup, serving as the crowning achievement in the illustrious career of a predatory striker.
Zinedine Zidane, yet another exceptional footballer who can proudly lay claim to the three most prestigious accolades. His journey to being mentioned among the sport’s greatest names began in 1998 during the World Cup hosted in his homeland. The talented and passionate French midfielder achieved the unthinkable, leading Les Bleus to victory and securing the coveted World Cup trophy. It was in the final clash against Brazil that Zidane showcased his brilliance, scoring two unforgettable goals that shattered the hopes of the Seleção and earned him the prestigious Ballon d’Or. While his time at Juventus should not be undermined, Zidane’s most remarkable achievements on the club level came after his record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid, where he commanded a staggering fee of 77 million euros. This move, orchestrated by Florentino Perez, proved to be an absolute masterstroke as Zidane continued to excel, amassing numerous trophies and capturing the adoration of fans worldwide. The crowning glory came in the 2001/02 season when Zinedine Zidane’s divine skill and artistry secured Real Madrid’s ninth Champions League title with his unforgettable volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen. It was the final piece of the enchanting football puzzle, solidifying Zidane’s status as a true legend of the game.
Often underestimated among the array of Brazilian football legends, Rivaldo has consistently proven that he belongs among the very best. He reached one of his footballing peaks while donning the Barcelona jersey, where his exceptional performances in the Champions League earned him the coveted Ballon d’Or award, despite falling short of claiming the ultimate prize. Ironically, it was during his lone season at Milan that he lifted the most prestigious club trophy, although his individual contribution to that achievement was not pivotal. However, his crowning glory came during the 2002 World Cup, where his five goals played a vital role in securing the championship for his footballing homeland. While his name may not be as frequently discussed, there is no denying that Rivaldo stands as one of the illustrious figures in the annals of football history.
He was the footballer who captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide, making them fall in love with the beautiful game. Ronaldinho possessed extraordinary skills that compelled even his toughest adversaries to rise in admiration and applaud his brilliance. What made him truly remarkable was his ability to shine in the most crucial moments, when his teammates relied on him the most. Ronaldinho had the power to turn the tide in any high-stakes match, making him a game-changer. Together with Rivaldo, he secured victory in the World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, and his contribution to the team’s success was immeasurable. His unforgettable execution of a free-kick against England, leaving goalkeeper David Seaman helpless, will forever be etched in memory. Following that extraordinary summer, Ronaldinho’s career soared to new heights, culminating in his well-deserved recognition as the Player of the Year with the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. A few months later, the Brazilian magician achieved his lifelong footballing dream by leading Barcelona to victory in the Champions League.
Kaka, arguably one of the last legendary Brazilian footballers in the attacking position, had a career that could have been even more dazzling. Despite facing injuries, the skilled midfielder managed to claim the three most coveted football awards. His first triumph came at the tender age of 20 when he found himself among Brazilian legends like Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, as well as Ronaldo Nazario, Roberto Carlos, Lucio, Cafu, and many others. Together, they represented Brazil in the World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, where Kaka’s potential shone through despite his limited playing time of just 18 minutes. However, it was at Milan, during the first decade of the new century, where Kaka truly reached his pinnacle. Playing a crucial role, he guided the “Rossoneri” to become a formidable force in Italy and Europe. In the 2006/07 season, Kaka’s brilliance was unmatched as he scored 10 goals and provided 3 assists, exacting revenge on Liverpool for the infamous Istanbul defeat and securing the Champions League title for Milan. The year 2007 culminated in Kaka’s dream come true, as he held the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in his hands. Rising from the shadows of renowned Brazilian stars, Kaka emerged as the world’s best footballer.
Lionel Messi has reached the pinnacle of world football and it’s unlikely he will ever descend from that position. After numerous attempts to achieve what seemed like an impossible feat, the Argentinean maestro finally kissed the World Cup trophy, completing his illustrious football collection. While individual awards were never his top priority, winning the Ballon d’Or seven times is an unparalleled accomplishment in the world of football. Additionally, Messi proudly boasts four Champions League titles with Barcelona, cementing his status as a true legend. These remarkable achievements not only showcase his undeniable football prowess but also his unwavering winning mentality, which was once questioned. It’s clear that Lionel Messi was destined to be a champion from the very beginning.