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Top 5 Best Players Never To Win The Ballon D’Or

Football

The Ballon d’Or is football’s most prestigious individual award, with many of the game’s greatest players having won the Golden Ball.

Lionel Messi has won it six times, Cristiano Ronaldo five times, and fellow legends Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten have all won it three times.

Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all won the Ballon d’Or twice, while 15 legends only won it once.

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However, there have been many great players who have never won the Ballon d’Or. Football Transfers takes a look at the 5 best and most deserving Ballon d’Or winners who never won it.

Remember that we excluded non-European players who were not active or at their peak after 1995 because, until this year, only European footballers at European clubs were eligible. This means that Pele and Diego Maradona aren’t on the list.

Number 5: Thierry Henry (France)

Thierry Henry is Arsenal’s all-time greatest player and scorer, having led the club to two Premier League titles and two European finals during a glittering first spell.

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry

He deserved the Ballon d’Or in 2004 after leading Arsenal’s Invincibles to an unbeaten Premier League season and scoring 39 goals in all competitions.

Instead, Andriy Shevchenko of Milan received the award that year.

Number 4: Raul (Spain)

While Raul never quite lived up to expectations for his country, he is a Real Madrid legend after scoring 323 goals and leading the Blancos to three Champions League titles.

Raul
Raul

Raul was a consistent performer in the Champions League, scoring in two finals. He may have deserved the award after his best-ever scoring season in 2001, but it was given to Michael Owen instead.

Number 3: Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)

Ferenc Puskas was unlucky that the Ballon d’Or was not created until 1956, by which time the attacker’s heroics with the legendary Hungary Golden Team of the early 1950s had already passed him by.

Ferenc Puskas
Ferenc Puskas

Nonetheless, his brilliance as a member of the Real Madrid team that won the first five European Cups – including four goals in the 1960 final win over Frankfurt – must have earned him at least one Ballon d’Or.

That year, he finished second, controversially, to Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.

Number 2: Xavi (Spain)

Xavi will be remembered as one of the best central midfielders of all time, along with Andrea Pirlo, as the greatest of his generation.

Xavi
Xavi

Everything in Spain’s Golden Generation, which won consecutive Euros and a World Cup between 2008 and 2012, went through Xavi, who was also the midfield master in Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barcelona team at the time.

Unfortunately, Xavi was the type of player who didn’t consistently provide memorable goals and assists, which cost him points with voters. But he deserved better than three third-place finishes.

Number 1: Andrés Iniesta (Spain)

The Spain and Barcelona midfield trident of Xavi, Sergio Busquets, and Andres Iniesta is arguably the most dominant midfield trident in football history.

Andrés Iniesta
Andrés Iniesta

Iniesta was a technically flawless attacking midfielder who produced flashes of brilliance at crucial moments. Most notably, in the 2010 World Cup final, he volleyed home a late winner to give Spain a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands. Iniesta finished second that year, with Lionel Messi taking first place.