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Seven players who won World Cup & Ballon d'Or in the same campaign

Published at :October 31, 2023 at 7:23 PM
Modified at :October 31, 2023 at 7:27 PM
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Dhruv Sharma

The ultimate achievement: When World Cup glory and Ballon d'Or greatness coincide

Lionel Messi continues to make history. The Argentine star has won every individual and team award in football, and on October 31, 2023, he became the first player to win the Ballon d'Or eight times. Messi was awarded after a World Cup win with Argentina and a season filled with trophies at Paris Saint Germain.

Messi's Ballon d'Or win made him only the seventh player in history to win the award as a World Cup winner. This award is the last one he will win because he now plays in the MLS and is not eligible for the award, only players playing in Europe are eligible for this award.

However, before Messi, others also won the coveted Ballon d’Or the same year they won the FIFA World Cup. Here's the list of the players:

7. Bobby Charlton - (1966) England and Manchester United

One of the best players that England ever produced, Bobby Charlton, was the star of England’s only World Cup win in 1966. The late legend was the player who played as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder, and left winger scored three goals while operating from the middle of the park.

His finest moment came in the semi-finals, where he scored two goals against Portugal to help England win the game 2-1, he was named in All Stars team at the end of the tournament. He is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time.

6. Paolo Rossi - (1982) Italy and Juventus

In 1980, Italian football was rocked by a massive scandal known as the Totonero. In this scandal, players were paid to underperform in order to influence the outcome of matches. Rossi was among the players who were suspended, even though he was innocent he was handed over suspension for couple of years. Just before the 1982 World Cup, his suspension was lifted which gave him the chance to play for Italy.

Italy drew its first three games and only qualified because they had scored one more goal than Cameroon, he was scoreless before a hattrick against Brazil, brace in the semi-final and one goal in the final helped him lift the trophy. He was awarded the Ballon d’Or, World Cup Golden Boot, and World Cup Golden Ball.

5. Lothar Matthaus - (1990) Germany and Inter Milan

Lothar Matthaus, widely regarded as Germany's greatest midfielder, made his mark in five different FIFA World Cups from 1982 to 1998. This midfield maestro was a key figure in the German squad that reached three consecutive World Cup finals spanning from 1982 to 1990.

In 1990, the midfield trio of Matthaus, Pierre Littbarski, and Thomas Habler, one of the best in football history orchestrated the game for Germany. Matthaus was the captain and led from the front, scoring four goals, including a brace against Yugoslavia.

4. Zinedine Zidane - (1998) France and Juventus

The 1998 World Cup was touted as France’s best chance ever to win the World Cup, and with good reason. The side boasted the likes of Theirry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram, Didier Deschamps, and their star Zinedine Zidane.

Zidane failed to score even a single goal in the tournament as France reached the final, where they had to face defending champions Brazil. He came clutch in this match, scoring two goals on his own, which is by far one of the best performances in the World Cup final. Zidane won the Ballon d’Or for his performance for both France and Juventus while also being named the FIFA World Player of the Year.

3. Ronaldo - (2002) Brazil and Real Madrid

In 2002, Brazil arrived at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan with one of the strongest squads in their history. And at the frontline of this squad was the trio of Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho. All these players had different roles but the goals were on Ronaldo's shoulder.

Ronaldo started the World Cup with a high score in every group-stage game. He then followed this up with a strike against Belgium, he scored the only goal against Turkey in the semi-finals and faced the tough challenge to go up against Oliver Kahn, who was the best goalkeeper in the tournament. The Brazilian scored a brace in the final and helped Brazil win the World Cup. He also won the FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe and the FIFA World Cup Silver Ball before ending the Year with a Ballon d’Or win.

Also Read: Top 10 players with most Ballon d’Or awards

2. Fabio Cannavaro - (2006) Italy and Real Madrid

One of the finest players from Italy, Fabio Cannavaro, remains the last defender to win the Ballon d’Or. This came in the impressive 2006 World Cup win, like the 1982 one, Italy were not considered as the favourites to win.

Sir Alex once said "attack wins you games, but defense wins you titles," this was just the right phrase for the Italian team. The Italians led by Cannavaro conceded only two goals, one own goal, and one penalty, making them the only World Cup winner in history to not concede a single goal from open play.

1. Lionel Messi - (2023) Argentina and Inter Miami

One of the best footballers to ever wear a football shoe etched his name in the history book yet again. He became the only player ever to win eight Ballon d'Or awards. He is also the second oldest player ever to win this trophy.

In a World Cup tournament where Argentina lost to the home team Saudi Arabia, little were the hopes for them to win the tournament. But the main man stepped up to the occasion again, he scored seven goals in the tournament, just one behind Mbappe - tournament's leading goal scorer and provided three assists as well. His goal contributions earned him record breaking eighth Ballon d'Or trophy. He beat Haaland who won the treble with Manchester City the same season.