One, Two, Three! African Players Who Made History By Winning the Treble

One, Two, Three! African Players Who Made History By Winning the Treble
Credit: Iconsport

The European treble, consisting of winning the domestic league title, domestic cup, and UEFA Champions League in a single season, is one of the most coveted achievements in club football. Throughout history, numerous talented African players have left an indelible mark on the European football stage, showcasing their exceptional skills, determination, and resilience. In this article, we pay tribute to the African stars who have achieved the remarkable feat of winning the European treble.

African Players Who Won the European Treble

Samuel Eto'o

Cameroon

Guardiola's Barcelona team is widely revered as one of the greatest teams in the history of football. With an array of superstars such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta, this star-studded squad revolutionized the sport with their mesmerizing tiki-taka style of play.

During the 2008/09 season, Barcelona's dominance knew no bounds as they conquered all opponents that dared to challenge them. Leading the charge up front was Samuel Eto'o, whose presence further enhanced the Catalans' chances of success. Eto'o's remarkable tally of 30 league goals from 36 games that season showcased his immense contribution to the team's endeavors.

Eto'o's second treble came with Inter Milan under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. After departing Barcelona at the end of the 2008/09 season, Eto'o made the switch to Inter Milan, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic took the opposite route. In Inter's triumphant 2009/10 campaign, Diego Milito emerged as the talismanic figure, but Eto'o played a significant role as well, contributing 16 goals throughout the season.

The Cameroonian striker's versatility and goal-scoring prowess once again proved invaluable as Inter Milan achieved remarkable success on multiple fronts. Eto'o's ability to thrive on different teams and make a substantial impact showcases his exceptional skill and adaptability as a player. Samuel Eto’o is the only player in football history to win two back-to-back trebles with two separate teams under two different managers.

Riyad Mahrez

Algeria

In a historic moment for Algerian football, Riyad Mahrez, the talented winger for Manchester City, etched his name in the annals of the sport by becoming the second African player to win a European treble and the first Algerian player in over three decades to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League title. This remarkable achievement adds to his accolades as the second Algerian overall to claim the top European trophy, following in the footsteps of Rabah Madjer, who accomplished the feat with FC Porto in 1987.

The memorable final took place at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium, where Manchester City emerged triumphant with a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan. The winning goal came from the foot of Spanish player Rodri in the 68th minute, breaking the deadlock after a goalless first half. This monumental triumph also marks a historic milestone for Manchester City, as they lift their first-ever UEFA Champions League trophy, concluding a sensational season where they also secured the Premier League and FA Cup titles.

Which Football Teams Have Won the Treble?

Celtic

1966-67

Dundee United had a successful season in which they finished ahead of their rivals, Rangers, winning the League Cup final against them with a 1-0 victory. They also secured a domestic treble by defeating Aberdeen 2-0 in the Scottish Cup final. Their achievements led them to the European Cup final in Lisbon.

Initially, they fell behind to Inter, but Tommy Gemmell equalized and Stevie Chalmers scored the winning goal six minutes before the end of the match. This victory earned them the nickname “Lisbon Lions” and solidified their place in football history as the first football team to win the European treble.

Ajax

1971-72

In the 1971–72 season, Ajax, the defending European champions, had a successful campaign despite the departure of their legendary manager Rinus Michels to Barcelona. Under new manager Ștefan Kovács, they dominated the Eredivisie by winning 26 of their final 27 league games, losing only once. They also won the KNVB Cup final against FC Den Haag with a 3-2 victory.

In the European Cup final, held at Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Ajax faced Inter, similar to Celtic's matchup in 1967. With the home advantage, Ajax emerged victorious with a 2-0 win, thanks to two goals from their star player, Johan Cruyff. This triumph marked Ajax's only recorded treble, although they would go on to win a third consecutive European Cup in the following season.

PSV Eindhoven

1987-88

PSV Eindhoven achieved a remarkable treble in the 1987–88 season, winning the Eredivisie title and clinching the KNVB Cup. They scored 117 goals in 34 league games and clinched the KNVB Cup with a 3-2 victory in extra time against Roda JC. In the European Cup, they did not win any games in regular time beyond the second round. The final against Benfica ended in a goalless draw and was decided by a penalty shootout. This season saw PSV Eindhoven join the elite club of teams that have achieved a treble.

Manchester United

1998-99

In the 1998–99 season, Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League. They also secured the FA Cup, but their ultimate triumph came in the Champions League. Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored late goals to secure a 2-1 comeback victory, earning them their first Champions League trophy under Sir Alex Ferguson. This season was defined by Manchester United's ability to prevail in tight matches and showcase their never-give-up spirit. Their strike partnership of Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke shone throughout the campaign, but it was the heroics of their substitute players that sealed their success in the Champions League.

Barcelona

2008-09

Pep Guardiola managed a treble with Barcelona 14 years ago. They won La Liga and the Copa del Rey, but faced an additional challenge when they finished third in La Liga the previous season. They successfully navigated the third qualifying round to enter the Champions League, despite a 1-0 loss to Wisa Kraków in the second leg. In the semi-finals, they triumphed on away goals against Chelsea, and in the final, they secured a 2-0 victory with goals from Samuel Eto'o and Messi, completing their treble triumph.

Inter Milan

2009-10

Under the guidance of José Mourinho, Inter Milan achieved remarkable success just a year after Barcelona's triumph. With a formidable team featuring Zlatan Ibrahimović, Samuel Eto'o, and Diego Milito, Inter excelled in various positions, including Julio Cesar in goal, Lucio in defense, and Wesley Sneijder in midfield. They retained their Serie A title by a narrow margin, finishing two points ahead of Roma, and secured the Coppa Italia with a 1-0 victory over the same opponents. In the Champions League, despite finishing behind Barcelona in the group stage, Inter defeated Chelsea and CSKA Moscow to set up a highly anticipated clash with Barcelona in the semi-finals. Through a Mourinho masterclass, Inter held Barcelona to a 1-0 loss at Camp Nou, advancing 3-2 on aggregate. In the final against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu, Diego Milito's brace secured Inter's first European Cup/Champions League crown since 1965.

Bayern Munich

2012-13

In the 2012–2013 season, Bayern Munich sought to reclaim their dominance in German football. Under the leadership of Jupp Heynckes, they won their first eight matches and secured the Bundesliga title. In the Champions League, they defeated Arsenal, Juventus, and Barcelona to reach the final. In the 89th minute, Arjen Robben scored to secure a dramatic victory. They also triumphed over Stuttgart with a 3-2 win in the DFB-Pokal final, completing a historic treble and becoming the first German team to achieve such a feat.

Barcelona

2014-15

Barcelona's 2014-15 season was Luis Enrique's first in charge, and they made history by becoming the first team to do it twice. The trio of Messi, Neymar, and Suárez scored 122 goals between them, with 58 of those coming from Messi. They were made to sweat by Real Madrid in La Liga, but eventually pipped Los Blancos by two points. After beating Athletic Club 3-1 in the Copa del Rey final, it was on to the Champions League showpiece, where Juventus awaited. Ivan Rakiti gave them an early lead in Berlin, but Suárez restored the lead, and Neymar clinched it deep into stoppage time for Barca's second treble.

Bayern Munich

2019-20

Bayern Munich won the league, cup, and Champions League in 2019-20 despite no one being in attendance to see the trophies handed out due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kova due to underperformance in November, and they won 19 and drew one of their final 20 Bundesliga games to win it by a distance. They also picked up the DFB-Pokal after beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in the final, and they were part of a mini-tournament in Portugal to finish off the Champions League. Kingsley Coman scored the winner to make Bayern the second team to win two trebles.

Manchester City

2022-23

Manchester City won the domestic treble in 2018-19, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup. In 2022–23, they sealed the European treble, winning the UEFA Champions League final and defeating rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Pep Guardiola broke a record by becoming the only manager to win a treble twice, following his success with Barcelona in 2008-09. Every player played their part in the treble, with Rodri scoring the only goal of the game.

This article was most recently revised and updated 12 months ago

Rababe Koussaimi, a 22-year-old journalist, is deeply passionate about the world of sports. She grew up in a footballing environment, supporting both Bayern Munich and Wydad Athletic Club. She began her English journalism career by hosting a podcast for the first English radio station in Morocco. Currently, the Moroccan journalist channels her enthusiasm into writing and conducting extensive research, creating insightful and engaging content for GoalBall Live readers.