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5 retired midfielders who deserved to win the Ballon d'Or at least once in their career

  • These 5 midfielders truly deserved to be recognised as the world's greatest footballers during their respective careers but never were.
Vikas Mishra
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 05 Mar 2020, 16:55 IST

Wesley Sneijder
Wesley Sneijder

Every year the best footballer on the planet is rewarded with the Ballon d'Or for his performances throughout the calendar year. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the entire last decade sweeping the award on 9 of the last 10 occasions.

Many of the game's greats have claimed the award during their playing days, but some players who deserved their name in the list of Ballon d'Or winners but undeservingly lost out. Perhaps, someone was better than them in their best years.

So what about those great talents who were rightfully deserving but just lost out on the famous award. Here below, let's celebrate the midfielders who deserved to win the Ballon d'Or at least once in their career:


#5 Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez
Xavi Hernandez

The Barcelona and Spain great would easily walk into the list of top 10 midfielders of all time. Xavi Hernandez truly deserved at least one individual honor his impressive career. He won everything with both club and country.

The Spaniard was the metronome of Spain and Barcelona throughout his playing career. He truly deserved to win the award in 2011 for his achievements with his club and country. Xavi was the heartbeat of Pep's Barca that season but unluckily lost out to his club teammate Lionel Messi as he finished third behind second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo.


Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta won every single trophy that was there to be won with club and country in 2010 but still missed out on the Ballon d'Or that year as he was beaten to the award by Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi that year.

Scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final is the stuff of dreams for any footballer and Iniesta did exactly that in 2010 as he helped Spain to the World Cup that year.

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The former Barcelona maestro is truly loved by the beautiful game's fans all over the world and his achievements with both Spain and the Catalans suggest that he deserved to be acknowledged as the best footballer on the planet at least once in his career.


Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard
Frank Rijkaard

A dynamic Dutch midfielder, Rijkaard was one of the best midfielders of his generation and a key member of the 1988 Euro-winning Netherlands side. The Dutchman was a brilliant controller of the game and had great technique and passing abilities but was perhaps left out due to the talent of his brilliant teammates.

Rijkaard was beaten to the award by Ruud Gullit in 1987 and then had to settle for a second and third-placed finish in both 1988 and 1989 to club teammate Marco van Basten who won two consecutive crowns in those years.


Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp

The Dutchman was perhaps set to win the award in 1994 as he finished second and third in 1992 and 1993. However, Netherlands' quarter-final exit off the 1994 World Cup against Brazil put an end to his chances.

Bergkamp then joined Arsenal and was introduced to a whole new audience but failed to get close to winning the prestigious award ever again. He is one of those players who had the quality and influence but still lost out on the honour.


Wesley Sneijder

Wesley Sneijder
Wesley Sneijder

Sneijder was an absolute favorite to win the Balon d'Or in 2010 as he carried Inter Milan to a famous treble under Jose Mourinho that year. He even helped the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and was tipped to at least break into the top three of the award.

However, he didn't even feature in the top 3 and Barcelona legend Xavi publicly called out his exclusion. Xavi stated,

"As for Sneijder, I know that in Italy they are angry because he is not one of the finalists. I can only agree with them. The Dutchman has had a fantastic year."

Although Sneijder was a fan favorite that year, he still lost out on the award as Lionel Messi claimed his second consecutive Ballon d'Or.


Also read: Ranking Portugal's 3 best options at right-back | Euro 2020 Watch

Published 05 Mar 2020, 16:55 IST
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