Football is first and foremost a team sport, and nothing beats winning the big trophies at club and international level.
The Champions League (European Cup) and the World Cup are the two most well-known awards today. A number of names have lifted both titles since the former’s inception, but an even more elite class arises from this.
Only eight men can claim to have won the ‘holy trinity’ of trophies, which includes football’s most prestigious individual award, France Football’s annual Ballon d’Or. But who are they?
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a winger.
Considered one of the best players of his generation and regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time, Ronaldinho won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon D’Or.
A global icon of the sport, he was renowned for his technical skills, creativity, dribbling ability and accuracy from free-kicks, his use of tricks, feints, no look passes and overhead kicks, as well as his ability to score and create goals. He has also won the European cup, world cup, and also the Ballon D’Or Award.
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Kaká or Ricardo Kaká, is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.
In his prime as a playmaker at AC Milan, a period marked by his creative passing, goal scoring and dribbles from midfield, Kaká is widely considered one of the best players of his generation.
With success at club and international level, he is one of eight players to have won the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon D’Or.
He led Milan to win the 2006/2007 UEFA Champions League and was the tournament’s top goal scorer. His performances saw him win the FIFA World Player of the Year, the 2007 Ballon D’Or and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.
After six years with Milan, Kaká joined Real Madrid in 2009 for a transfer fee of €67 million, which was the second highest transfer fee at the time.
However, after four injury troubled seasons in Spain, which saw his physical mobility rapidly decline, he returned to AC Milan for a single season in 2013, prior to joining MLS expansion club Orlando City. He initially returned to his former club São Paulo on loan, before returning to Orlando in 2015 and retiring in 2017.
3. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Yazid Zidane, popularly known as Zizou, is a French professional football manager and former player who played as an attacking midfielder.
He most recently coached Spanish club Real Madrid and is one of the most successful coaches in the world. Also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Zidane was a playmaker renowned for his elegance, vision, passing, ball control and technique.
He received many individual accolades as a player, including being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and winning the 1998 Ballon D’Or.
Capped 108 times by France, Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the final, and was named to the All-Star Team. This triumph made him a national hero in France and he received the Legion of Honour in 1998. Zidane won UEFA Euro 2000 and was named Player of the Tournament.
He also received the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup, despite his infamous sending off in the final against Italy for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest. He retired as the fourth-most capped player in French history.