The Ballon d’Or, the individual pinnacle for footballers across the globe. The roll of honour includes many of the games greats, from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to Pele and Maradona – but not every great player has managed to make it. Here’s my countdown of the 5 best players to never win the Ballon d’Or…
5. Thierry Henry
Arguably there has never been a better striker in the Premier League era. Thierry Henry was electrifying and simply unstoppable during his peak. A runner-up to Pavel Nedved in 2003, and third behind Buffon and Cannavaro in 2006, Italy’s World Cup winning year, Henry has come close to a Ballon d’Or and in the views of many probably deserved at least one. He didn’t even get on the podium after Arsenal’s unbeaten season in 2004!
4. Frank Rijkaard
Unfortunate to be around at the same time as Van Basten and Gullit, from a Ballon d’Or perspective at least – I’m sure he was happy to have them on his side at both club and international levels! Third-place in 1988 and 1989, Van Basten being the eventual winner on both occasions. An extremely successful career, which wielded 3 Champions League titles and a European Championship with Holland – not to mention scoring the winner in the 1990 European Cup final too!
3. Gianluigi Buffon/Iker Casillas
It’s a tie in third as I honestly couldn’t decide. The Ballon d’Or protest for Buffon has been at large for a while, whilst Iker Casillas is arguably the greatest goalkeeper of a generation, and all-time. Between them they have 13 league titles, 3 Champions League titles, 2 World Cups and 2 European Championships. Buffon finished second behind Cannavaro in the 2006 Ballon d’Or vote whilst Casillas has never made the podium.
2. Ferenc Puskas
Regarded as one of the greatest players, and goal scorers of all-time. 84 goals in 85 games for his country, and 514 goals in 529 games at club level says it all. After immigrating to Spain to join Real Madrid in 1958, Puskas enjoyed huge success with Los Blancos, winning three European Cups. Despite scoring 4 goals in the 1960 European Cup Final against Frankfurt, the 1960 Ballon d’Or was awarded to Luis Suarez of Barcelona, Puskas was second.
1. Andres Iniesta
There are two reasons why Andres Iniesta hasn’t won a Ballon d’Or – Ronaldo and Messi! Iniesta was key during the Barcelona and Spain dominance in Europe, winning 8 League Titles, 4 Champions League Titles, 2 European Championships and a World Cup. The Spanish genius came closest to winning the Ballon d’Or in 2010, after his World Cup winning heroics with the winner against Holland in the 2010 final – second only to Lionel Messi.
That’s that – I have Iniesta down as being the best player ever to not win a Ballon d’Or – Who’s yours? Tweet me @zefutbolwriter