The eight footballers to have won the World Cup, Champions League and Ballon d'Or

  • Kobe Tong

If you were a professional footballer and you could only win one trophy in your career, which one would you choose?

Some of the younger readers amongst us might opt for the ever-growing Champions League, while the more old school fans might stay loyal to the World Cup as football’s crowning achievement.

However, aside from league titles that are very special to their particular countries, we think the Ballon d’Or might be an accolade of choice for supporters focused on their individual game.

Everyone to themselves, we don’t judge, but there are actually eight players in history who can lay claim to having won all three trophies.

That’s right, it doesn’t get much bigger than becoming a world champion with your country, European champion with your club and being named the best player on the planet.

Winners of the ‘Big Three’

The players span from the year England became world champions right up until the last 15 years and, yes, neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi qualify with their lack of a World Cup.

And on the day of Ronaldinho’s 40th birthday – spoiler alert, he’s one of the players – YouTube channel Oh My Goal decided to pay homage to this exclusive club with a new video.

So, you can check out the video that inspired us to look at these players down below, but keep scrolling for our breakdown of the eight players to collect the big three trophies.

1. Sir Bobby Charlton

World Cup: 1966

Ballon d’Or: 1966

Champions League: 1968

With a semi-final brace against Portugal, Charlton was pivotal in England’s route to World Cup glory – winning the Ballon d’Or for his efforts – and scored twice at Wembley again during the European Cup final two years later.

2. Gerd Muller

World Cup: 1974

Ballon d’Or: 1970

Champions League: 1974, 1975, 1976

One of the greatest goal-scorers in history was at the sharp point of Bayern’s hat-trick of European crowns, whilst also winning a Ballon d’Or for one World Cup masterclass and scoring in the final of another.

3. Franz Beckenbauer 

World Cup: 1974

Ballon d’Or: 1972, 1976

Champions League: 1974, 1975, 1976

And with an identical resume barring an extra Ballon d’Or trophy, we have ‘Der Kaiser’ who inspired both West Germany and Bayern Munich throughout the 1960s and 1970s as one of the best European footballers in history.

4. Paolo Rossi

World Cup: 1982

Ballon d’Or: 1982

Champions League: 1985

Rossi defied the odds to romp his way to World Cup and Ballon d’Or glory in 1982, scoring six goals – all of which came in the knockout rounds – during the tournament in Spain, and later bagged a European Cup for his efforts with Juventus.

5. Zinedine Zidane

World Cup: 1998

Ballon d’Or: 1998

Champions League: 2002

It seems mind-blowing that Zidane only won a single Ballon d’Or in his career, although it was for his World Cup-winning exploits, and he added the Champions League to his collection with THAT volley in Glasgow.

6. Rivaldo

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 1999

Champions League: 2003

Perhaps the most surprising name on the list, it’s easy to forget that Rivaldo became a European champion during one of just two seasons with AC Milan having already bagged the World Cup and Ballon d’Or.

7. Ronaldinho

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 2005

Champions League: 2006

Happy birthday, legend. Ronaldinho burst on to the scene with his performances at the 2002 World Cup, eventually earning himself a move to Barcelona that produced the other two puzzle pieces in the space of a year.

8. Kaka

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 2007

Champions League: 2007

Kaka is certainly fortunate to make the cut having only played 25 minutes during Brazil’s latest World Cup win, but his 2007 displays that bagged the Champions League and Ballon d’Or were simply unforgettable.

Won it all

Three Brazilians, two Germans, one Italian, one Frenchman and an Englishman.

Aside from sounding like the start to a terrible ‘all walk into a bar’ joke, it also highlights the nationalities of the only eight players who can truly say they’ve done it all.

Sure, there’s no denying that Ronaldo and Messi are the greatest of all time, but even they are on course to find their careers just short of football’s most exclusive and decorated club.

Come back in 2022, lads, but only one or none will get entry.

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