The world has produced incredible football players in all eras of the beautiful game. The last 10 years we have seen the Ballon d’or simply change hands between Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi who will definitely down as the greatest players of all time. If we took them out of the picture, we would actually see many different incredible players win the biggest individual prize football has to offer.
Messi and Ronaldo are on a league of their own and here are 10 deserving players who should have won the Ballon d’or;
1. Gianluigi Buffon – Paris Saint-Germain and Italy
Nicknamed “The Wall”, Buffon is one of the legends of the game and still going at the top level with PSG. He is amongst the greatest goalkeepers to ever play the game like Oliver Kahn, Iker Casillas and Peter Schmeichel. With a world cup, eleven Serie A titles and UEFA Cup in his cabinet, he is just shy of a Champions league medal. His last season with Juventus was also one to remember where the old lady were narrowly defeated by a penalty in the dying seconds of the second leg at the Bernabeo.
2. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini is an inspiration to all modern footballers. A career which spanned over 24 years is an achievement very few can match. In this time, he has won 7 Serie A titles, 5 champion league titles and a FIFA world cup. When it comes to the Ballon d’Or, and almost any individual award for that matter, it is usually the attacking players that win it. Perhaps this is why Maldini never won it.
Iniesta is greatest talent Spain has produced and Spain has produced some of the best players to ever play the game. He is the reason why Spain have a world cup medal. He was the key playmaker in Barcelona that revolutionized the tiki-taka system. If it weren’t for Messi and Ronaldo, he would have definitely won it at least once in his prime.
4. Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs is renowned as the greatest player in English football and Manchester United’s longest serving player. This man has the same number of premier league medals as Arsenal FC which is quite an achievement on its own. Known for his movement, change in pace and trickery, he has been a menace for defenders for two decades. He should have at least won one award especially in the treble season in 98-99.
5. Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is the greatest goal scoring midfielder of all time. There are world class strikers with fewer goals than him in his glamorous career at Chelsea.
6. Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo this man does not know the meaning of pressure. If anyone asks you who the coolest footballer is, they won’t say its Ronaldo or Neymar or Ronaldinho. Pirlo defined on-field calmness and is arguably the greatest Italian midfielder of his generation. His best season was the 2006-07 season when Kaka was the eventual winner. What an incredible year he had.
7. Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is one of the greatest strikers to ever play the game. He was also part of the Invincible Arsenal team which won the premier league without losing the match. Arsenal lost the 2005-06 UEFA champions league final to Barcelona and perhaps, this was the reason he did not win it. He is one of the most deserving players to have not win it.
8. Wesley Sneijder
Many fans believe that Messi should have 4 Ballon d’or awards and Sneijder should have won it following the incredible season he had with Milan winning the Serie A title and Copa Italia, the champion’s league and runner up in the 2010 FIFA world up in South Africa. He was pivotal in the midfield that lifted the Italian treble. If only Iniesta did not score that winning goal 8 years ago. Sneijder is the most deserving player on this list to not have won the award.
There are tons of other players from the past who should have won this award at least once. If you have some other players to join this list, don’t be shy to leave in a comment.