Zidane, Messi, Ronaldinho

The 6 players that completed football with every major honour: Messi but no Ronaldo…

Lionel Messi, but not his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo, is part of a very exclusive club of players that can claim to have completed football by getting their hands on every major trophy.

There’s only Messi and five others, in the entire history of football, that have won the World Cup, European Cup, a major continental trophy (Copa America or Euros), a league title in a major league and the Ballon d’Or.

With credit to @nameNameless on X for the idea, here are the six players in football history who can claim to have completed football.

Gerd Muller

Until Messi and Ronaldo arrived on the scene, it always felt like Der Bomber’s legendary goalscoring exploits would never be repeated.

Muller famously scored 565 goals for Bayern Munich and 68 for West Germany, averaging a better-than-goal-a-game record at international level.

He’s the only player in history to have scored in the final of a World Cup, European Championship and European Cup and won all three. Between 1968 and 1976, he won four Bundesliga titles, four DFB Pokals, three European Cups in successive years, the Ballon d’Or (1970) World Cup (1974) and European Championship (1972).

Add in his goalscoring record and not even Messi or Ronaldo can boast a period of dominance like that.

READ: The top 10 goalscorers in the history of Europe’s top five leagues: Messi, Ronaldo, Muller…

Franz Beckenbauer

Alongside Der Bomber was Der Kaiser. Beckenbauer was there alongside Muller for each and every one of the above honours cited with Bayern and Germany, all the while redefining how the game was played in his pioneering role as sweeper.

As well as all that, he won the Ballon d’Or twice, beating Muller to the award in 1972 and claiming it a second time in 1976. He’s the only defender in football history to win it twice.


Twenty-five years after Muller and Beckenbauer ruled the world of football, Brazilian star Rivaldo became only the third player to win the lot, lifting the La Liga trophy twice, Copa America, World Cup, Ballon d’Or and Champions League in a five-year stretch at the turn of the century.

Rivaldo’s great run started with a starring role in Barcelona’s 1997-98 league title, which they retained the following year under Louis van Gaal. He scored 57 goals for the club in that two-year period and was rewarded with the Ballon d’Or in 1999, having also ended up as the top scorer and best player in that summer’s Copa America.

He later claimed the World Cup in 2002 and completed the set in 2003 by winning the Champions League with AC Milan, albeit with a peripheral role, having struggled to find his best form under Carlo Ancelotti, ending up as an unused substitute in the penalty shootout victory over Juventus in that infamously drab Old Trafford final.

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Zinedine Zidane

During the same period that Rivaldo was conquering the world, so too was Zizou.

He won the first of three league titles in 1996-97 with Juventus, retained the title the following year while proving himself the talisman for France as they won the World Cup on home soil – a year that resulted in a richly-deserved Ballon d’Or. Two years later he once again delivered the goods as Les Bleus emerged victorious at Euro 2000.

After losing back-to-back finals with Juventus, Zidane eventually got his hands on the Champions League – with that iconic volley against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.

QUIZ: Can you name every player to win the Champions League & World Cup?


The Brazilian might not have had the longevity of some of the other players listed here, but he brought boundless joy to those who watched him as he burned brightly as the best player on the planet in the mid-noughties.

He kicked things off with a fringe role in Brazil’s 1999 Copa America triumph, while Ronaldo and Rivaldo took centre-stage, eventually progressing to leading man for the Selecao’s 2002 World Cup victory.

He went on to win three league titles in Europe (two with Barcelona, one with AC Milan), the Ballon d’Or in 2005 and the Champions League the following year, eventually capping off his wonderful career with the Copa Libertadores – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League – with Atletico Mineiro in 2013.

Lionel Messi

“Don’t write about him, don’t try to describe him, just watch him,” Pep Guardiola famously once said.

Words can’t do Messi’s extraordinary career justice, so we’ll forego flowery language for a brief summary of some of his most mind-blowing records.

The era-defining icon won 12 league titles (10 with Barcelona, two with PSG), which is only four fewer than the other five players on this list combined. He’s also won eight Ballons d’Or, which is two more than the other five legendary players on list combined. 

Arsene Wenger declared Messi the greatest player in history when he was still in his early 20s, which made some degree of sense given he’d already achieved everything in club football by that point.

Still, international glory was always heartbreakingly just out of reach – until his twilight years, when he rubberstamped his all-time great status by captaining Argentina to the Copa America in 2021 and World Cup in 2022, named Player of the Tournament in both.