As football fans, we have been blessed with the privilege to watch week in, week out two of the game’s greatest ever players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Sometimes fans don't understand how fortunate they been as there has never been an era like this. Despite the imperious dominance of the duo, there have been a lot of world-class players to play in the same era. Players who if they were playing in another era would have certainly won a Ballon d’Or.
Here are 5 players who could have won the Ballon d’Or in the absence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
#5 Wayne Rooney
Yes, there was a time when Wayne Rooney was THAT good. Some have argued that the current Derby player is the greatest English player of all time. That’s why the 34-year-old is both Manchester United’s and England’s all-time top scorer. On top of that, the striker turned midfielder won 5 EPL titles, 8 domestic cups and a UEFA Champions League title in his prime.
Rooney’s greatness goes beyond his records and multiple achievements, he was shown to be of exceptional ability from a very young age. It was one of the most iconic moments in history when a 16-year-old Rooney scored a winner over Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal for Everton. He would only get better with time and when he formed a devastating front three with Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, not one club in Europe looked forward to playing at Old Trafford.
Between 2010 and 2013, Rooney was regularly the only English player nominated for the award with mostly Barcelona and Real Madrid players considered favourites for the win. The last Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or was Michael Owen in 2001, but we can all agree that Wayne Rooney was a better player than he ever was.