For a player, there are two trophies in the world of football that are the peak of any career. At the international level, the holy grail is the World Cup. At the club level, everyone aspires to win the UEFA Champions League. There have been a few players who won the Champions League and the World Cup in the same year.
In many ways, they reached the zenith of their career in the same year. What the majority of footballers aspire to achieve their whole life, these nine players did in a season.
Here’s the list of players who won the Champions League and the World Cup in the same year.
Raphael Varane (2018)
The French Rolly Royce defender has been a trophy-winning machine ever since he made the switch to Real Madrid at the age of 19. He won every trophy in Spain and won the Champions League four times.
During one of those campaigns, in 2018, he combined his Champions League win, a third consecutive one no less, with a World Cup victory.
Didier Deschamps’ squad of superstars pragmatically walked their way to the World Cup by beating Croatia 4-2 in the final. Raphael Varane was an integral part of the defence, with his performance against Uruguay in the quarterfinal being particularly memorable.
At the club level, Zinedine Zidane’s all-conquering Kings of Europe created history by becoming the first team in the 21st century to do a three-peat of UCL titles.
Since then, Varane has added another La Liga title to his name. He has even opened his account with Manchester United by winning the Carabao Cup in the 2022/23 season. He will hope it’s the first of many if aims to join the list of most decorated footballers in world football.
Roberto Carlos (2002)
The Los Blancos connection is strong so far in this list! Roberto Carlos, who arguably redefined the role of fullback in modern football, did this impressive double in the year 2002.
The original Galacticos team beat Bayer Leverkusen in the final courtesy of THAT volley by Zinedine Zidane to win their then 9th UCL title. Roberto Carlos played a crucial role that season, assisting Zidane’s goal in the final as well.
On the international scene, his Brazil side was a squad on a mission. Having lost in the final to France in 1998, they were determined to go one step further this time.
In Ronaldo, they had the world’s best player at the peak of his powers. They were unbeaten in the group stage, scoring 11 goals in three games. In the knockout stages, Brazil conceded only one goal in four games as they put an exclamation mark on one of the most dominant World Cup campaigns in football history. Roberto Carlos had done the double.
Christian Karembeu (1998)
Another entry into the list, another Real Madrid player. In many ways, Christian Karembeu was the glue in the superstar-laden sides he was a part of. As the hardworking, unassuming defensive midfielder, his work in the middle of the park let the attackers weave their magic upfront.
Real Madrid won the UCL title by beating Juventus in the final courtesy of a solitary goal by Predrag Mijatovic. Karembue was a crucial part of that team. Normally starting as the right-sided midfielder in Madrid’s lopsided fullback system, with Roberto Carlos on the left, his job was to protect his fullback on the right. He also made well-timed runs in the opposition area to create overloads.
His importance for France was equally as crucial. The 1998 team was reaping the fruits of the emergence of Zinedine Zidane’s peak. Karembeu lent balance to the team with his selfless work. Despite not being as big a name as some of his attacking teammates, he was the first name on the teamsheet for France during the World Cup.
It is the utmost honour for a club side when its homegrown core is the backbone of both, the club and the international side en route to major honours.
This was the case with the Bayern Munich side in 1974. Of the nine players on this list, Bayern Munich’s “Super Six” did it in the same season.
Sepp Maier was the unbeatable goalkeeper. Franz Beckenbauer redefined the role of a centre-back, being responsible for the role of a Libero. Gerd Muller was the guarantee of goals and Hoeness provided creativity in abundance. Breitner and Schwarzenbeck formed the spine of a defence that was all-conquering.
The West Germany side beat the new darlings on the block, Johan Cruyff’s “Total Football” Netherlands side in the final, with Breitner and Muller getting on the scoresheet.
Bayern Munich became the European champions after putting away Atletico Madrid in the final in a replay of a tense game that was a draw in extra time. Schwarzenbeck came up with the goods to save Bayern before Hoeness and Muller’s braces destroyed Atletico in the replay two days later. With that, Bayern Munich’s German core created history, six players doing the prestigious double at the same time.