The Ballon d’Or award is the most prized possession for any football player in the world and only the lucky ones are able to get their hands on this beautiful trophy. It is the most prestigious award for individual achievement in football and even the best of the best player never got the opportunity to lift it.
WHAT IS THE AWARD ALL ABOUT?
FIFA Ballon d’Or award is the result of merging of France Football’s Ballon d’Or and the men’s FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2010. The situation before 2010 was such that a player of any nationality playing in Europe could only be selected for the award and in 1956, when the award was launched, it was only open to the European players playing in Europe.
In the world of football, there had and have been many great players at their club and International level. However, many of them did not get the opportunity to hold the Ballon d’Or even for once in their lifetime.
Here are 10 great players who deserved to win the Ballon d’Or but were unfortunate to win it in their career :
1- Paulo Maldini
Defenders have always been underrated when it comes to individual footballing awards while the attackers have always been the favourites and considered the most deserving of the awards.
Paulo Maldini is one of the greatest defenders the world has ever seen, he won the Seria A title seven times European cup 5 times. Knowing that Maldini was the best defender of his era, it is hard to accept that he never got honoured by the Ballon d’Or award.
He was shortlisted for the FIFA player of the Year in 1995 and the Ballon d’Or in 1994 and 2003 but failed to get his hands on the trophy in any of these attempts.
Brazillian player Ronaldo said Maldini is the greatest defender he ever faced but yet the star defender could not bring the Ballon d’Or to his name.
2- Raul Gonzalez
Raul’s name goes hand in hand with goals. He was the kind of player who was present everytime in the right place at the right time for scoring goals and ultimately he lead Real Madrid to the glory.
Until now after Cristiano broke his record, Raul was an all time record goalscorer of the Champions League. He wasn’t just a member of the squad instead, he was an iconic and inspirational player for all other players of Madrid.
His goal scoring ability helped the club to six La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies making him the favourite at Bernabeu.
Raul’s best chance of winning the Ballon d’Or came when he finished second to Michael Owen in 2001.
3- Gianluigi Buffon
Goalkeepers don’t get the same level of recognition as other players do playing in different positions. The only goalkeeper who ever won the award is the Soviet Union legend Lev Yashin back in 1963.
The Italian legend won the World cup in 2006 and got shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or in the same year as well.
Though there have been several other good goalkeepers, no one came as close as Buffon did in 2006 only to get beaten by his captain and central-defensive man- Fabio Cannavaro.
In the recent time, Manuel Neuer has certainly come up as a deserving player for the Ballon d’Or, let’s see if he can get his hands on the award.
4– Thierry Henry
Theirry Henry is the greatest player in the history of Arsenal and is still the idol for many. He has won almost every award in football.
He still holds the record of being the only player to have won the highest number of Premier League Golden Boots, 5 French Player of the Year Awards, Arsenal’s all time top Goal Scorer, France top goal scorer and 3 time FWA Player of the Year. The Arsenal Legend scored 226 goals winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups between 1997-2007.
In spite of his outstanding career at Arsenal, he ended up second in 2003 and finished third in 2006 for the race of Ballon d’Or. He was really one of the most deserving players for the greatest individual award.
5- Andrea Pirlo
As they say, you cannot teach what is there naturally inside someone. Pirlo is such one player who has that instinctive and is undoubtedly the most talented mid-fielder in the world of football.
The Italian maestro is known for his accurate passing abilities and for his vision to deliver the best of balls in the box.
Pirlo has won two Champions League and 5 Seria A titles. His closest chance of winning the award was in 2012 when he impressed the fans with his fantastic play which lead Juventus to the Final of Champions League.
It is hard to believe that such a gifted player couldn’t even make it to the top three, he came fifth and seventh in the 2007 and 2012 competitions of the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
6- Andres Iniesta
The player who brings magic in the play breaks past the opposition and makes it look so easy, he is none other than the Spanish International- Andres Iniesta. Both Spain and Barcelona may not have enjoyed the huge amount of success, had Iniesta not been there for them.
He helped the Spanish side win the Euro cup 2008 and his winning goal helped Spain in winning the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Iniesta also won the player of the tournament in Euro 2012.
Unfortunately, Iniesta was beaten by his team-mate Lionel Messi both the times in 2010 and 2012 in the race of Ballon d’Or.
7- David Beckham
Sir David Beckham is one of the most underrated player of all time. Beckham does not have what Ronaldo or Messi have but he is someone who is different from the rest and has his own style of play. His ability to provide pinch perfect balls to the striker is just amazing to watch.
Beckham won three titles in a single year(1999) which included- Premier League, FA cup and Champions League.
He is still known for his breathtaking free kicks which always proved to be a nightmare for the goalkeepers.
He was named as the Club Footballer of the Year by UEFA but the Ballon d’Or went in the hands of Rivaldo.
8- Xavi Hernandez
Former Barcelona mid-fielder Xavi Hernandez is considered one of the most effective player who ever played for the Spanish sides.
Popularly known as the Tiki-Taka master, his passing and awareness set the tempo for Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team on to some another level. Anyone who would have watched his play in his prime time just cannot forget him.
Xavi was named as Player of the Tournament for Spain’s Europian Championship victory in 2008. But likewise his companion Iniesta, he was also overshadowed by Messi and failed to win the Ballon d’Or award in 2010 and 2011.
It is very depressing to know that a player of such calibre could not make it to the winning list of Ballon d’Or award winners.
9- Alessandro Del Piero
The Italian International is known to many as a master of his art. He made his name while playing for Juventus winning Serie A, Champions League and then finally World Cup in 2006.
Del Piero scored six goals in UEFA Champions League in 1996 for Juventus but Europe’s journalists awarded the Ballon d’Or to German Matthias Sammer, with Del Piero not even in the top three.In 1998, Del Piero was named Italian Footballer of the Year but yet again he lost the Ballon d’Or to the hands of Zinadine Zidane.
He truly deserved the award but it seems luck wasn’t on his side.
10- Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben is another world class player who is underrated in the world of football. With such speed and agility, he gets past the defenders by cutting with the ball at full sprints is a treat to watch for any football fanatic.
The Dutch International has won almost all major awards except the World Cup and Ballon d’Or. He has been nominated several times for the Ballon d’Or award but has not won it till date.
Robben has proved himself both the times in 2010 and 2014 World Cup. Watching him burst with his speed and scoring goals is absolutely amazing to watch. He deserves to be in the list of Ballon d’Or award winners.