The Ballon d'Or is widely considered to be the most significant as well as the most prestigious award a footballer can win based on his performances in a calendar year.
In the last 12 years, only three players have laid their hands on the coveted award, with Luka Modric managing to break Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's duopoly in 2018 after leading Croatia to an impressive runner-up finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Since its inception in 1956, the Ballon d'Or award was never won by a single player more than three times before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo arrived on the scene. As things stand now, the Argentine demi-god has won it a record six times, while the Portuguese gladiator is not too far behind with five.
Several legendary players have missed out on the Ballon d'Or award
With the Ballon d'Or award bestowed to only one player every year, the prestigious award has been conspicuous by its absence in the glittering resumes of many world-class players.
On that note, here is a look at five such players who never won the Ballon d'Or award:
#5 Ferenc Puskas
One of the earliest superstars of the game, Ferenc Puskas is still regarded as one of the finest footballers to have ever graced the sport. An unbelievably prolific goal-scorer, the Hungarian dazzled the world with his goalscoring prowess as he amassed on a staggering number of goals during his career.
He started out for Budapest Honved in Hungary before moving to Real Madrid in Spain, unleashing his brilliance in both leagues. Puskas won three European championships with Madrid, ten national championships (five of them with Madrid) and also led Hungary to the Olympic gold medal in the 1952 games.
Unfortunately, Puskas was already 29 when the Ballon d'Or was first awarded. Despite Puskas scoring heavily in the next few years, he only made the Ballon d'Or top 3 once - in 1960 - where he finished second.
Considering his stellar exploits, Ferenc Puskas remains one of the greatest ever players never to have won the Ballon d'Or award.
#4 Paolo Maldini
Another all-time great, Paolo Maldini, is still considered to be one of the greatest ever defenders and one of the best to have played the game. A true one-club man, Maldini spent 25 seasons at Milan, winning a staggering tally of 25 trophies, including five European honours and seven Serie A titles.
The Italian defender had the best chance of winning the Ballon d'Or award in 1994 when Milan won the UEFA Champions League, Serie A, Supercoppa Italiana and the UEFA Super Cup. Maldini made it to the top three but finished behind Hristo Stoichkov and Roberto Baggio.
He finished third once again in 2003, this time behind Pavel Nedved and Thierry Henry, after helping Milan win the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Coppa Italia that year.
An undeniably legendary player, Maldini has an enduring legacy despite the absence of a Ballon d'Or award among his glittering list of accolades.