HomeSoccer5 legends who deserved to win the Ballon d'Or

5 legends who deserved to win the Ballon d’Or

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Football is a beautiful game which thrills fans around the world. However, it could be cruel at times and the deserving might not achieve the aspired result. Throughout modern football history, there have been many great players who didn’t have the privilege of winning the Ballon d’Or, the most coveted individual honour in the sport, despite completely deserving it.

In this article, we will talk about five such legends of the game who deserved to win the title at least once during their illustrious careers.

Wesley Sneijder (2010)

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Wesley Sneijder was part of Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter Milan team in the 2009-10 season. In fact, the Dutchman was a vital cog in the side and shouldered the offensive duties alongside Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o. He scored 12 goals and provided 11 assists and played a key role in Inter winning the Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the coveted Champions League. He was deservedly named the UEFA Midfielder of the Year, which served as a testament to his consistency and effectiveness during the best part of a successful campaign where his individual performances aided the Italian giants to a treble.

However, to the shock of everyone, he wasn’t even named in top 3 candidates for the Ballon d’Or award for that year as La Masia graduates Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta swooped the podium. One may ask how on earth Sneijder missed out the coveted prize despite winning the treble and guiding the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final.

Franck Ribery (2013)

Franck Ribery has been one of the most underrated footballers for the majority of his career. He was part of Jupp Heynckes’ treble-winning Bayern Munich side in 2012-13, with the winger scoring 16 goals and providing 29 assists throughout the season. The 30-year-old was arguably the best player for the Bavarians that campaign and his numbers are a testament to the fact.

However, he didn’t win the Ballon d’Or that year as Cristiano Ronaldo won it, simply based on the number of goals the Portuguese scored that season. Ribery was at third place behind Lionel Messi, and that was the closest he ever came to lifting the prestigious award.

Thierry Henry (2004)

Thierry Henry was definitely the best player in the 2003-04 season as the Frenchman scored for fun and helped Arsenal win the Premier League without losing a game. Despite scoring 39 goals and providing 19 assists in all competitions, the Frenchman wasn’t even among the top three players nominated for the Ballon d’Or, with AC Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko winning the top prize.

Henry, who lost to Juventus great Pavel Nedved the year before, was never able to get his hands on the Ballon d’Or throughout his fantastic career as he came third again in 2006.

David Beckham (1999)

David Beckham was a superstar in 1999 and arguably the biggest name in the game back then. After a disappointing 1998 World Cup, where he was sent off against Argentina, the Englishman made amends with Manchester United a season later by winning the treble.

Beckham was in his elements during the 1998-99 season in which he oversaw Manchester United’s most successful season under Sir Alex Ferguson, as he helped the Red Devils to the treble of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, scoring nine goals and setting up 17 more in the process.

UEFA rightly named him the Best Player in Europe, but it was Brazil and Barcelona star Rivaldo, who won the Ballon d’Or as Beckham was voted second.

Andres Iniesta (2010)

Andres Iniesta came within a whisker of bagging the Ballon d’Or in 2010 as Barcelona whitewashed the podium with Lionel Messi winning the award and Xavi coming third. Iniesta was the driving force behind Barcelona’s brilliant season, scoring five goals and providing 17 assists in all competitions. The Spanish maestro also scored in the 2010 World Cup final and would later be named the best player at Euro 2012, winning both tournaments.

Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona team which won the treble twice, and it would have been nice to see one of the modern game’s greatest midfielders honoured with the prize. In hindsight, his Spain and Barcelona teammate Xavi was also a deserving candidate for the Ballon d’Or.

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