The FIFA Ballon d’Or is the supreme honour any professional footballer can win in recognition of his performance for a particular year. Over the years, some of the biggest names in the history of the game have won the award and, unsurprisingly, most of the winners are forwards or midfielders. In fact, only one goalkeeper, Lev Yashin, and two defenders, Fabio Cannavaro and Franz Beckenbauer, have won the award in 69 years.In the last seven years, the award has been shared between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and it is very likely that one of these two will win again. Nevertheless, being named in the 23-man shortlist for the award is a huge honour and a number of defenders and goal keepers make the list every year.Manuel Neuer finished third in the polls last year and it was the closest a non-attacking player came to winning the award since Cannavaro in 2006. So here is a list of five non-attacking players who deserve to be shortlisted for the 2015 Ballon d’Or.
#1 Gianluigi Buffon
Italy’s veteran goalkeeper once again proved that age is just a number as he led Juventus through an amazing 2014/15 season. Buffon kept 18 clean sheets in the league last season and his side also had the best defensive record in the league for the fourth season running. He eventually captained his side to the club’s first Coppa Italia title in twenty years and to the final of the Champions League as well.
The 37-year-old was instrumental in Juventus’ amazing run in the UEFA Champions League and he was in imperious form in the semi-final against Real Madrid. Though Buffon fell short of lifting his maiden Champions League trophy, he was excellent in the final and kept his side in the game despite falling behind early on.
The Italian was named in the UEFA Champions League team of the season for 2014/15 and was fourth in the poll for UEFA’s best player in Europe. He can proudly claim that he was only behind Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo among all the players in Europe.