Ballon d’Or might be an individual award that shouldn’t be given too much significance in a team sport like that of football, but make no mistake here, this is as prestigious an award as it gets.
The ones that win it write their names into the books of history. However, as time has shown us, a lot of great footballers have failed to win this renowned accolade and here are five of them who we think deserved it the most.
5. ANDREA PIRLO (Italy)
The great Italian maestro was the Mozart of midfielders as he sat in front of the defenders and weaved the magic that put not only the viewers in a hypnotic state but also made the minds of the opponents delirious.
He was a prominent force in European football even in his mid-30s but could never win the Ballon d’Or despite all his elegance.
4. ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO (Italy)
Since Ballon d’Or almost always supports the forwards more, it is quite baffling as to how the former Juventus forward Alessandro del Piero never won the accolade. This is a man that was applauded by a crowd as tough as that at the Bernabeu.
For a period in time, Del Piero was the best support striker in the world but never received the award. He finished his Juventus career with 290 goals from 705 appearances.
3. XAVI HERNANDEZ (Spain)
Another midfielder in the list, Xavi was the backbone of the system that made Barcelona and Spain seemingly invincible. It is not a coincidence that the Spanish national team lost its vigour after the former Barcelona man started to wane.
However, for all his aesthetic brilliance, he doesn’t have the Ballon d’Or to show for it.
2. ANDRES INIESTA (Spain)
If Xavi was the backbone of Spain and Barcelona, Andres Iniesta was the beating heart of it. The Spaniard was undoubtedly the best attacking midfielder in the world a good part of this decade.
He floated into the channels and connected the dots for his teams at his prime and came very close to winning the Ballon d’Or on some occasions but could never go all the way.
1. RAUL GONZALES (Spain)
And finally, Raul Gonzalez Blanco. He is arguably the best striker from the late-90s era to not win the honour. He came very close in 2001 but saw Michael Owen clinch it in the end as the Spaniard finished second.
The Madrid legend finished his European career with 363 goals in 839 matches but, unfortunately, doesn’t hold the distinction of being a Ballon d’Or winner.