Geoff Horsfield, 44, who played for Birmingham City, West Brom and Fulham was among those praised by magazine The Big Issue for “awe-inspiring” tireless work.
He dedicated himself to helping rough sleepers since quitting as Port Vale coach in Stoke-on-Trent in 2012.
Horsfield has helped build houses for vulnerable people living in the West Midlands. His foundation offers accommodation to homeless people, including those with addiction and mental health problems. He worked with the Royal British Legion to help veterans.
Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex, turned her life around after ending up on the streets as a teenager.
Dr Cohen-Hatton, 37, sheltered in derelict buildings and slept rough for two years after her father died. She was the first woman firefighter at her station after joining at 18 and has gone on to raise awareness over the issue after landing her high-profile position.
She said: “I haven’t done any of this for any kind of recognition.
“It’s been the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done in my life. I would rather walk into a burning inferno any day of the week.
“But I did it because if I’m feeling like this, there must be so many other people who’ve had a similar experience and don’t feel they can talk about it.
Dr Cohen-Hatton, who said last year that she sold The Big Issue as a teenager after finding herself on the streets, added: “I want to encourage people not to feel ashamed of their backgrounds or where they’ve come from. Breaking down the stigma is so important. There are 14 million people living in poverty today. So poverty is going to be there for a long time.
“But if we can change the access to opportunities so more people can fulfil their potential, then for me that would be the top prize.”
Rutger Bregman, 31, was also praised for his contribution including his demand at the World Economic Forum in Davos for fair taxation.
The Dutch historian’s book – Utopia For Realists: How We Can Build The Ideal World – has been translated into 32 languages.
The Big Issue has devoted the latest magazine to praising the work. Editor Paul McNamee said: “This is the second time we have dedicated an entire edition of the magazine to celebrating 100 awe-inspiring people and organisations who we believe are changing the world in significant ways and giving us all hope for the future.
“They all deserve our attention and support for their tireless efforts to make a difference. These are the true champions of change in our society and The Big Issue is proud to shine a light on them.”