River Plate recently won CONMEBOL’s most coveted prize after defeating Boca Juniors in the final.
UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle of European club competition, a trophy that every player dreams of winning someday. However, the UCL is limited to European teams only. The next big thing in club football is definitely Copa Libertadores.
What is UCL to Europe, is what Copa Libertadores is to South America. Organised by CONMEBOL annually, it is one of the most prestigious tournaments, not just in South America but the world as well and attracts viewership from all across the globe.
Domestic success aside, the main goal of the biggest clubs and the players is to win the coveted tournament. It is supposed to be a must-win competition for any club that intends to establish its domination on the continental front. The players who win it are adored as national heroes and the losers face the ire of their agitated fans.
In the history of both competitions, there have only been nine players who have won both majors. The honor of having won both the Champions League and Copa Libertadores has been earned by the following iconic players:
Nelson de Jesus Silva “Dida” – Brazil
Dida was the first goalkeeper to be nominated for the FIFA Ballon d’Or
The Brazilian, who was better known as, “Dida”, was one of the best goalkeepers of the last decade and is remembered mainly for his role in an AC Milan side that was at its prime in the early 2000s.
Before winning an incredible two UCL trophies at AC Milan in 2002-03 and 2006-07, the custodian had won the Copa Libertadores with the Brazilian club Cruzeiro in 1997. Hailed as one of the best Brazilian goalkeepers ever, Dida was also the first keeper in history to become the goalkeeper of the year in 2005 and also became the first goalkeeper to be nominated for Fifa Ballon d’Or.
Marcos Evangelista de Moraes “Cafu” – Brazil
Cafu won the Copa Libertadores twice in 1992 and 1993
The marauding right-back from Brazil has also won both majors in his career. Alongside Dida, Cafu was also a part of an incredible AC Milan side that brushed aside any and every opposition on their way to UCL triumph in the 2006-07 season.
Interestingly, the defender had already won the Copa Libertadores, not once but twice, in 1992 and 1993 with the Brazil side, Sao Paulo FC. He made a total of 95 appearances for Sao Paulo and was named South American footballer of the year in 1994 owing to his stellar performances.
Juan Pablo Sorin – Argentina
Sorin won the UCL with Juventus and Copa Libertadores with River Plate
Known in Argentina as Juampi, the full-back constantly shifted between two roles, left-back and left-midfielder and performed both duties amicably. The 1995-96 season was one to remember for the Argentine, as he clinched both the Champions League and Copa Libertadores with Juventus and River Plate, respectively.
Given that both honours came quite early in his career, Sorin had a long and successful club career playing for various European and South American sides in the process.
Jose Vitor Roque Junior – Brazil
Roque Junior won the Copa Libertadores in 1999 with Palmeiras
Commonly known simply as Roque Junior, the defender from Brazil was a part of 2002-03 Champions League winning AC Milan side along with fellow Brazilian comrade, Dida.
Roque Junior had the ability to play both as a full-back and as a centre-back. His most successful stint came with the Brazilian club, Palmeiras, where he made a massive 192 appearances. The highlight of that spell came in 1999 when Palmeiras won the prestigious Copa Libertadores.
Carlos Alberto Tevez – Argentina
The Argentine is considered as the “people’s hero” back in his country
The forward has had a massively successful club career, having excelled wherever he went. A legend at Boca Juniors, he won the Copa Libertadores with them in 2003 after having been promoted to the senior squad in 2001.
Two clubs and a few years later, Tevez was signed by English giants, Manchester United, where he formed a devastating trio with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. He played a central role in the United squad that went on to win the UEFA Champions League in the 2007-08 season. The Argentine is now in his third stint with his boyhood club, Boca Juniors.
Walter Adrian Samuel – Argentina
Samuel is considered as one of the best defender of his generation
Playing for Boca Juniors, Walter Samuel attained the status of being one of the best centre-backs of his generation. He was best known for his pure strength and physical domination on the field and he instilled fear in the minds of the strikers he faced and was a force to reckon with.
He started his club career at Newell’s Old Boys and sealed a move to Boca Juniors after a string of solid performances. Walter Samuel won the Copa Libertadores in his last year with the Argentine club in the year 2000. After getting exposed to European football through his strength at AS Roma and Real Madrid, it was at Internazionale where he reached the pinnacle of his career, winning the Champions League in the 2009-10 season.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira “Ronaldinho” – Brazil
The Brazilian genius won the UCL in 2006, and Copa Libertadores in 2013
Often regarded as the greatest player to ever grace the football field, Ronaldinho was the type of player that won hearts of every individual who witnessed his skills creativity and overall flair. He earned numerous awards and trophies during his career, especially at FC Barcelona where he hit his prime.
He was a fundamental part of the Champions League winning squad at FC Barcelona in the year 2005-06. It was at this point Barca was renowned for their possession-based tiki-taka style of football, a philosophy that is still central to the club.
However, Ronaldinho won the Copa Libertadores in the latter part of his glorious career. He was part of the Atletico Mineiro squad that won the prized trophy in 2013.
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior – Brazil
Neymar won the Copa Libertadores title in 2011 in a famous clash against Penarol, which ended with a massive brawl
Neymar Jr had been a poster-boy of South American football from an early stage of his career. He managed to score an impressive 54 goals at Santos FC in 102 appearances, and also went on to win the Copa Libertadores with the Brazilian club in 2011. The young forward was destined for greatness from that point onwards.
Next destination for Neymar was FC Barcelona, where he matured as a footballer and unlocked his true potential. He won the UEFA Champions League with the Catalan giants in the 2014-15 season and was part of a trio that included Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, famously known as “MSN”.
Danilo Luiz da Silva – Brazil
Danilo won the UCL with Real Madrid and Libertadores with Santos
Danilo was Neymar‘s teammate at Santos FC and won the Copa Libertadores alongside him in the year 2011. He himself was considered to be one of the most promising talents coming out of South American football.
The full-back sealed a move to Real Madrid in 2015 and won two consecutive Champions League trophies in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The defender now plies his trade in the Premier League after signing for Manchester City in 2017.
That concludes an incredible list of players that are a part of an exclusive club that will be really tough to get into for future players, since winning both UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores is no small feat.