Player A doesn’t deserve it, Player B deserve it more, is the usual song or uproar we often battled with from the fans, and we’ve often time seen the most prestigious award in world football raised a lot of questions anytime the award is been dished out to a particular player.
More so, how is greatness been measured in football? through statistics, trophies, and personal accolades, all of these are often been the benchmarks for measuring greatness.
Ballon d’Or can also be seen as one of the personal accolades as the case may be for football stars who at a point in their career have done impressively well playing for their clubs.
It’s no news that football is a universal sport which has the ability to bring millions of people together, even when they ain’t best of friends, it attracts lots of aficionados, investors, and administrators who are always ready to invest their money on a sport that guarantees millions of dollars if well managed.
After all said and done, the footballers usually have their own time of reward in the form of an award to appreciate what they’ve actually done in the course of the season by playing for their club
In this piece, we will look into the inception of the Ballon d’Or itself, the present, and past winners.
The brain behind the game’s most prestigious individual honor the ‘Ballon d’Or‘ was conceived by a Sports Writer Gabriel Hanot, for the male players deemed to have performed the best over the year and the winner are been chosen based on voting by football journalists since its inception 1956 to 2007.
However, in 2007 coaches and national team captains were also given the right to vote whom they deemed to be the best over the year.
Evidently, the award was strictly meant for players from Europe, and widely known as the European Footballer of the year award, but in 1995, the organizers were gracious enough to expand the coast to include all players from other regions that have been active in European club football.
As such the award became global in 2007 with all the professional footballers irrespective of the nationality or their professional club, this decision now means the award effectively become the world player of the year award, although it was still a separate award for the FIFA world player of the year award.
The first non-European player who first laid his hands on the prestigious award was George Weah in 1995.
The year the rules of eligibility were changed for the first time, while the first European player to win the inaugural award was a certain Blackpool player Stanley Matthews in 1956.
And the long list of the award kept ensuing with the first five players like Alfredo Di Stefano who won it in 1957, Raymond Kopa who also won it in 1958, then again Alfredo Di Stefano won it in 1959. And in 1960 Luis Suarez a Barcelona and Spanish player in 1960, basically those were the first set of footballers that won the prestigious award.
Since the inception of the award, only three players have won the Ballon d’Or thrice, Johan Cruyff in 1971, 1973, and 1974, Marco Van Basten in 1988, 1989, and in 1992, Michel Platini in 1983, 1984, and 1985.
Amidst all of the past and present winners, Italian teams AC Milan and Juventus are the only teams that have produced the most recipients of the Ballon d’Or eight in total.
The players from Germany won in 1972, 1981, Dutch in 1988 were the only ones to take all three top spots in a year.
Italian clubs won it in 1988-1990 achieving the same feat with the German, including two years solely made up of AC Milan players 1988, 1989. All of these records were so unique until the Spanish club took over the reign and experienced a dominance in 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2016, and 2010 Barcelona became the second team with three top players.
The Portuguese teams are among the countries with seven winners apiece.
For the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA world player of the year award, it was snatched up by Ronaldinho in 2005 having done impressively well with Barcelona both in the league and the Champions League.
Fabio Cannavaro also won it in 2006 been the first defender to win it after a brilliant outing at the World Cup, Kaka also won it in 2007 following his mind-blowing performances for Milan in the league and of course in the Champions League, then followed by Ronaldo in 2008 and Lionel Messi in 2009.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona has won the award a record six times, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo who has also won five-time, wining one at Manchester United while the remaining four was during his stint with Spanish giant Real Madrid.
The two Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid are the leading teams with twelve and eleven winners respectively between 2010 to 2015.
Subsequently, the award was merged with a similar one the FIFA World Player of Year award to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or award which was awarded to the best male player before FIFA and France Football decided to put an end to the merger agreement.
After 2011, UEFA created the UEFA best player for Europe award to maintain the tradition of the original Ballon d’Or to specifically to honor a football player from Europe and those that did well playing in Europe
With this award, Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaka have all won the FIFA World Cup, the European Cup, UEFA Champions League, and the Ballon d’Or during their successful careers.
Meanwhile, over the years the award as shown to be biased in favor of attacking players, which has increased over the years, and over time the award has gone to the more exclusive set of leagues and clubs, and prior to 1995 when George Weah the first non-European player to win it.
The top leagues had supplied the Ballon d’Or winners. England, Germany, Italy, and Spain have produced winners since 1995, but now the story has changed totally.
Ballon d’Or Winners 2000-2019
|2019||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2018||Luka Modric||Real Madrid||Croatia|
|2017||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Portugal|
|2016||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Portugal|
|2015||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2014||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Portugal|
|2013||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Portugal|
|2012||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2011||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2010||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2009||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||Argentina|
|2008||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||Portugal|
|2006||Fabio Cannavaro||Juventus/Real Madrid||Italy|
|2004||Andriy Shevchenko||AC Milan||Ukraine|
|2003||Pavel Nedved||AC Milan||Juventus|
|2001||Michael Owen||FC Liverpool||England|
|2000||Luis Figo||Real Madrid||Portugal|
Ballon d’Or winners 1977-1999
|1996||Matthias Sammer||Borussia Dortmund||Germany|
|1995||George Weah||AC Milan||Liberia|
|1994||Hristo Stoichkov||FC Barcelona||Bulgaria|
|1992||Marco Van Basten||AC Milan||Netherlands|
|1991||Jean Pierre Papin||Marseille||France|
|1990||Lothar Matthaus||Inter Milan||Germany|
|1989||Marco Van Basten||AC Milan||Netherlands|
|1988||Marco Van Basten||AC Milan||Netherlands|
|1987||Ruud Gullit||AC Milan||Netherlands|
|1986||Igor Belanov||Soviet Union||Dynamo Kyiv|
|1981||Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|1980||Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|1977||Allan Simonsen||Borussia Monchengladbach||Denmark|
Ballon d’Or Winner 1956-1976
|1976||Franz Beckenbauer||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|1975||Oleg Blokhin||Soviet Union||Dynamo Kyiv|
|1974||Johan Cruyff||FC Barcelona||Netherlands|
|1973||Johan Cruyff||FC Barcelona||Netherlands|
|1972||Franz Beckenbauer||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|1971||Johan Cruyff||FC Barcelona||Netherlands|
|1970||Gerd Muller||Bayer Munich||Germany|
|1969||Gianni Rivera||AC Milan||Italy|
|1968||George Best||Manchester United||Northern Ireland|
|1967||Florian Albert||Ferenc Rosi TC||Hungary|
|1966||Bobby Charlton||Manchester United||England|
|1964||Denis Law||Manchester United||Scotland|
|1963||Lev Yashin||Soviet Union||Dynamo Moscow|
|1962||Josef Masopust||Dukla Prague||Czechoslovakia|
|1960||Luis Suarez||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|1959||Alfredo Di Stefano||Real Madrid||Spain|
|1958||Raymond Kopa||Real Madrid||France|
|1957||Alfredo Di Stefano||Real Madrid||Spain|
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.