FOR me, Christian Karembeu has achieved far much more in football than the likes of Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, David Beckham and others.
World football's greatest ever player Pele was once asked whether Argentine dynamo Lionel Messi was as good as him.
"When Messi's scored 1283 goals like me, when he wins three world cups, we'll talk about it," was the Brazilian legend's reply.
Well, same for me. You're only considered the world's finest if you have won the ultimate prize.
Yes Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney and company are the show stealers these days, mesmerising football fans the world over with their wizardry and goals but the harsh reality is that so far they have failed on the biggest stage of all!
Yes, they have won the Champions League but Karembeu has won it too (twice with Real Madrid in 1998 and 2000).
That's why for me a World Cup winner like Karembeu is a true football icon.
1998 World Cup
It was at the 1998 World Cup that Karembeu basked in glory with a French team full of stars — like Zinadine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Fabian Barthez, Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Viera and Youri Djorkaeff.
Karembeu left New Caledonia to play in France at a young age.
"I went to France when I was 17," he recalled. "At 17 you don't know your future but you have hope, you have dreams so I had to discipline myself and adapt myself to each step of my work.
"After that I got experience with my clubs then come the World Cup in 1998.
"Maybe I was a warrior in New Caledonia but a warrior sometimes has no rules but in sport there are rules and you need to follow them.
"So I had to take these steps to be part of this trophy legacy and it's for me to let them know (other Pacific Island footballers) that if I can do it then they can also do it."
That's from the man who has been there and done that — winner of two Champions League titles and a FIFA World Cup, the first from our region.
He's a symbol of hope for footballers in our region.
Times Sport salutes Karembeu on his achievement and his work as Oceania ambassador for FIFA.