Stellars Club

Legends who never won the Ballon d’Or

Photo: EFE/EPA/YOAN VALAT

We all know the Hollywood Oscars gala and its purpose: to choose the best actors of the year and recognize their great work on the screen. We all know of cases where great actors have retired without ever winning the golden statuette.

Well, in football there is a gala and a trophy similar to the one held in Los Angeles, although in this case the award has a slightly rounder shape, specifically the shape of a football. No doubt you already know which one we are referring to, the Ballon D’Or or Golden Ball gala. This award was created in France by the magazine France Football and designates the best “performers” on the pitch. Unlike the American awards the football award par excellence has only one category to compete in, best player of the year, so winning it is much more complex.

Because of this there are great legends that it seems impossible that they have never won it. From here we want to remember them and pay them a small tribute:

Xavi Hernandez

Former Barcelona midfielder was nominated in 2010 but came third in the voting behind teammate Andres Iniesta and the winner, teammate Leonel Messi. Despite not winning the trophy in the individual category Xavi has the honour of being the only Spaniard to appear in the Dream Team Ballon d’Or in history.

Andrés Iniesta

Historically the best player of the World Cup winning team had always been chosen as the winner of the Ballon d’Or but that year 2010 all the pools failed.

Spain had just won their first World Cup in South Africa, being Iniesta voted best player of the tournament, and everything seemed clear for the manchego but a change in the voting system unifying the Gallic trophy with the Fifa World Player made the votes of players and coaches tipped the balance towards Messi to the detriment of Andres. Years later, France Football magazine apologized for not giving it to him.

Raul Gonzalez

In 2000 Raúl had won everything. He scored the 3-0 against Valencia that gave the Champions League to Real Madrid. He was considered the best striker in Europe being the top scorer in the continent as well as winning the European Super Cup the same year. Despite having won everything with his club, the award went to his teammate Luis Figo, leaving Raul in 9th position.

The following year, when everything seemed to be in favour of the Madrid native, a dazzling Michael Owen snatched the award by just 35 votes.

Andrea Pirlo

The former World Cup winner with Italy spent several years at the top of the list of nominees but despite being named one of the best midfielders in history he never won the trophy.

Paolo Maldini

It is hard to believe that in the 24 seasons Maldini played in the Italian top flight, he never won the Ballon d’Or. Many voices have always been critical of the voting because defensive players have always had a harder time winning than strikers.

Paco Gento

Nobody can hold the record that the former Madrid player has: 6 times winner of the European Cup as a player in the years 1955, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 and 65. Despite such a baggage the Cantabrian never lifted a Ballon d’Or.

Ferenc Puskas

The Hungarian player dazzled with the Magical Magyars of his country, winning the Gold medal at the Olympic Games in Finland as well as being the protagonist of the so-called “Match of the Century” that pitted Hungary against a hitherto unbeaten England team. Due to the war that broke out in his country, he fled Hungary and remained missing for two years until he was 31 years old when Santiago Bernabeu signed him for Real Madrid and he became a Spanish citizen. Against all odds he stands as the standard-bearer of the Whites being one of the top scorers in Europe. Despite that, “La Escopeta” never received the French award, but the prize for the best goal awarded by Fifa bears his name.

Franco Baresi

The Italian World Cup winner at Spain 82 is the second most capped player of his former club, AC Milan, and a true living legend of the club. Despite winning 6 Scudettos, 4 Italian Super Cups, 3 European Cups, 3 European Super Cups and 2 Intercontinental Cups, the Italian never lifted the Ballon d’Or.

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