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5 greatest players never to have won the Ballon d'Or

Ballon D'Or : Ceremony At Theatre Du Chatelet In Paris
Ballon D'Or : Ceremony At Theatre Du Chatelet In Paris
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The Ballon d'Or is an annual award bestowed by France Football on the standout player for club and country. First introduced in 1956, players from all over the world are eligible for the award.

Over the years, many world-class players have won the Ballon d'Or award, with some of them doing so on multiple occasions. Lionel Messi won a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or award this year, going two clear of the next most successful player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

HERE IS THE WINNER! SEVEN BALLON D’OR FOR LIONEL MESSI! #ballondor https://t.co/U2SywJmruC

However, the Ballon d'Or award has proven elusive to many top players, despite consistent performances for club and country. On that note, here's a look at the five best players who have not won the Ballon d'Or award:


#5 Kenny Dalglish (1983 Ballon d'Or runner-up)

Kenny Dalglish was a top player during his playing days.
Kenny Dalglish was a top player during his playing days.

Kenny Dalglish was one of the top players for club and country during his playing days in the 70s and 80s.

The Liverpool legend won many trophies during his club career. He notched up 12 leagues titles - eight with The Reds and four with Celtic, among others. Dalglish finished behind Frenchman Michel Platini in the 1983 Ballon d'Or standings.

All seven of @LFC PFA Player Of The Year Winners.Terry McDermott 1979-80 🥇Kenny Dalglish 1982-83 🥇Ian Rush 1983-84 🥇John Barnes 1987-88 🥇Steven Gerrard 2005-06 🥇Luis Suárez 2013-14 🥇Mohamed Salah 2017-18 🥇 https://t.co/MEbXxmyMk9

Despite his diminutive stature, Dalglish scored nearly 200 goals in one of Liverpool's most prosperous periods in their illustrious history. The 70-year-later delved into management, but wasn't as successful as he was on the other side of the touchline.


#4 Paolo Maldini (two-time Ballon d'Or podium finisher)

Paolo Maldini is an AC Milan legend.
Paolo Maldini is an AC Milan legend.

Paolo Maldini is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the history of the game. During a long distinguished club career, the one-club man made over 900 appearances across all competitions for AC Milan.

He won seven league titles and five European Cups with Milan, three of them in the Champions League era. He also played a key role in Italy reaching the 1994 FIFA World Cup and 2000 European Championship finals.

Maldini finished on the Ballon d'Or podium for his exploits in Milan's European wins in 1994 and 2003, finishing third on both occasions. Now a technical director at Milan, the 53-year-old is one of the best players Never to have won the Ballon d'Or award.

In fact, no defender has won the Ballon d'Or award since Maldini's younger compatriot Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. Sergio Ramos came close in 2015 but was eventually ousted by his PSG t team-mate Lionel Messi.

#3 Thierry Henry (2003 Ballon d'Or runner-up)

Thierry Henry was a lethal striker during his playing days.
Thierry Henry was a lethal striker during his playing days.

Thierry Henry is another legend of the game who never won the Ballon d'Or title. During an illustrious career for club and country, the Frenchman scored goals for fun and won several major titles as well.

The 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2000 European Championship winner particularly enjoyed a prolific stint with Arsenal. Henry played a key role in the Gunners becoming the first (and till date only) team to go unbeaten across a Premier League campaign (2003-04). However, he didn't even finish in the Ballon d'Or podium that year.

For his prolific exploits a year earlier in 2003, Henry finished behind eventual winner Pavel Nedved in the Ballon d'Or race. It remains one of the biggest snubs in football awards history, as Henry had a far superior goal contribution rate during the year than the Czech midfielder.

On this day in 2003, Thierry Henry finished 2nd in the race the the Ballon d’Or. The Frenchman managed 78 G/A in the calendar year, setting the Premier League assist record in the process. Pavel Nedved, who beat him to the crown, had just 20 G/A in the same period. Robbery. https://t.co/I1FF9Qy1QG

Three years later, the all-time Arsenal top-scorer (226 goals) once again finished on the Ballon d'Or podium. He finished behind FIFA World Cup winners Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon.

The all-time France top-scorer (51 goals) was part of Pep Guardiola's 'dream team', winning the continental treble with Barcelona in 2008-09.


#2 Andres Iniesta (2010 Ballon d'Or runner-up)

Andres Iniesta of Barcelona.
Andres Iniesta of Barcelona.

Andres Iniesta is one of the best midfielders in the history of the game. The diminutive playmaker enjoyed a brilliant career with Barcelona and Spain.

The two-time continental treble and European Championship winner is a legend of the game. He etched his name in Spanish football folklore when he netted the winner in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final against The Netherlands.

That made him a strong contender for the Ballon d'Or award that year. But Iniesta finished behind his then Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi in the final reckoning. It was an all-Barcelona Ballon d'Or podium sweep that year, with Xavi finishing third in the race.

Ballon d'Or 2010 top three: ✨🇦🇷 Messi🇪🇸 Iniesta🇪🇸 Xavi https://t.co/r3xe6uEOd5

Two years later, Iniesta starred in a brilliant Spanish team that successfully defended their European Championship title. However, the Spaniard was usurped by Messi once again, who produced a monstrous 91-goal year to win his fourth straight Ballon d'Or award. Cristiano Ronaldo finished second, with Iniesta a distant third.


#1 Robert Lewandowski (2021 Ballon d'Or runner-up)

Robert Lewandowski finished second in the 2021 Ballon d'Or race.
Robert Lewandowski finished second in the 2021 Ballon d'Or race.

Robert Lewandowski is arguably the hottest striker in the game at the moment. The prolific Pole has been scoring goals for fun for quite a while.

Lewandowski has scored over 300 goals across competitions in only seven seasons at Bayern Munich. He played a key role in their continental treble in 2019-20.

The 33-year-old had a record-breaking campaign last year. He smashed 41 goals to break the late Gerd Muller's five-decade-old record of most goals (40) in a Bundesliga season. That helped Bayern coast to another league title, their ninth on the trot.

The all-time Poland top-scorer was desperately unlucky to miss the Ballon d'Or award last year, as it got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has put together another goal-rich campaign this season, scoring at least ten more goals than anybody else.

Yet the Ballon d'Or award has eluded him again, with Copa America 2021 winner beating the Pole to the coveted honour. Lewandowski, instead, had to contend himself with the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

The striker of the year award goes to… Robert Lewandowski ! 🦾 #ballondor https://t.co/OEy9mlSjki

Many former players had called for Lewandowski to win this year's Ballon d'Or award. So Messi trumping the Pole raised quite a few eyebrows, as Lewandowski had the better goal ratio.

Messi, in his acceptance speech, requested France Football to award Lewandowski the 2020 Ballon d'Or.

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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