Ballon d'Or in French means Golden Ball and is awarded by France Football magazine along with French press and media for the best football player that particular year through a voting system where media person from 30 different countries vote to select the best footballer.
From 2010 to 2015 both FIFA and France Football collaborated thereby merging FIFA Best player award and Ballon d’Or, with Captains and coaches of the countries to vote alongside international journalists from all FIFA member nations.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won the prestigious award five times thereby tying the record for the most number of wins. Three players have won the award three times each: Johan Cruyff of Ajax and Barcelona, Michael Platini of Juventus and Marco van Basten of Milan.
With seven awards each, Dutch, German and Portuguese players won the most Ballons d'Or. Only Germany (1972) and the Netherlands (1988) took all three top spots in one year. Two Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid share the top for employing the most winners, with eleven wins each. Eight players (Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Paolo Rossi, Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka) have won the FIFA World Cup, the European Cup/UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d'Or during their careers.
The dream of every football player is to win the coveted award and the criteria to achieve is often not understood by the people and even the players as sometimes players are awarded on the basis of individual performance but other times along with individual performances, medals and honours are also taken into consideration.
There have been many controversies regarding the credibility of the award with the recent one (2018) being awarded to Luka Modric from Croatia over Ronaldo and Messi positioned in 5th place even though stats suggest Messi had better season individually. Following listed are the players who had a better season than the respective winners but were criminally overlooked for the Golden Ball.
Wesley Sneijder – 2010
Inter Milan, under Mourinho won an unprecedented treble and Sneijder was the focal point of the team. More often than not he turned up during the big occasions and delivered good performances one after the another. He scored the very next day after he was unveiled as the Inter player against their derby rivals AC Milan. His exploits during that season were so incredible that he was nicknamed “The Sniper” for his super sharp passing vision and long range shooting ability.
Sneijder's most important contribution came during the first leg of the semi final tie against FC Barcelona in Champions League. Going into the tie, Barcelona were considered heavy favourites owing to the unstoppable force created by Guardiola. But a tactical masterpiece by Mourinho saw Inter winning 3-1 at San Siro with Sneijder notching up an all important equalizer after Barcelona scored an early goal.
The second leg however saw Barcelona win by 1-0 thereby settling the tie 3-2 in the favour of Inter Milan. What followed was one of the most controversial and infamous run-in celebration by Mourinho at Camp Nou. Inter went onto win the final against Bayern, 2-0, with Sneijder providing an assist.
Inter won their 18th Serie A by 2 points that season from a second placed Roma and beating Roma again in the final of Coppa Italia thereby becoming the first and only team from Italy till date to win a continental treble.
Sneijder was adjudged best midfielder by UEFA but was placed only fourth in Ballon d’Or standings with Messi winning and Xavi, Iniesta completing the podium creating a huge controversy over Sneijder’s position. One of the most underrated and under appreciated genius who at least deserved to be on the final podium in 2010.