Well, Lionel Messi won the FIFA Ballon d’Or, beating final challengers Cristiano Ronaldo and his own FC Barcelona teammate Neymar. This was the fifth time the Argentine star won the award, and with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo giving him stiff competition having won the award three times.
However, with the duopoly over the awards that these two football stars have created, many other greats of the game seem to have missed out on the awards. While it is a rather sad thing that we may not be able to see many other greats of the game lift the Ballon d’Or trophy, one just cannot rule out the fact that both Ronaldo and Messi are a head above the others in this race, and have created a bit of a duopoly at the Ballon d’Or over the years.
So let’s take a look at some of the footballing greats who may never win the Ballon d’Or title becasue of the presence of these two great players.
The Spaniard has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world now, and has won many accolades. However, the Ballon d’Or is not one of them. Five La Liga, two Copa del Rey, three Champions League, two Euros and a World Cup completes Casillas’ long and illustrious trophy cabinet. In fact he is also challenging for the Portuguese League now, after a summer move to FC Porto.
On the individual honours front, Casillas’ 16 years in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid saw him win The La Liga best goalkeeper award twice and the best European goalkeeper award once, while he also won the Golden Glove for the 2010 World Cup for Spain. However, one trophy that the Spain custodian is yet to win is the Ballon d’Or and since his move away from Real Madrid, it may just seem that the coveted individual award has slipped out of Casillas’ otherwise reliable hands.
While Messi has won the Ballon d’Or five times, his FC Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta is one player who hasn’t been able to land any individual awards so far. A team man to the core, Iniesta’s selfless passing and natural flair has brought many glories to the Nou Camp. He has won an incredible seven La Ligas and four Champions League titles with the Blaugrana, and looks well set to win the trophies once again this year. In the international front, he has won two Euros and a World Cup with Spain.
Iniesta came close to winning the Ballon d’Or twice, in 2010 and 2012. However, he was pipped to the pole position on both occasions by teammate Lionel Messi. With Iniesta now at the age of 31, the best years of this midfield genius may have quietly flown by, as the rest of the world smarted from the flashy talents of Messi and Ronaldo.
The big Manchester City midfield general has been the driving force behind his side’s rise in the Premier League in the last few years. During his time at the Etihad Stadium, the glory days have come back to the Citizens, as they enjoyed two Premier Leagues, an FA Cup, and a League Cup success. Touré had also managed to win the African Cup of nations last year with Ivory Coast.
In the process, Touré completely dominated the African Player of the Year award four years in a row, from 2011 to 2014. That trend was broken by Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this time round, but the big Ivorian came in a close second. However, it has been a bit of an empty jar on the international front for Touré. Now at the age of 32, it seems that Touré is struggling to maintain the same influence in the middle of the park as he used to do before.
Even the man they call the Pianist has never been able to win the Ballon d’Or. Pirlo has perhaps not been the most entertaining player (flair-wise), but his passing, vision, and ability to orchestrate his team’s play from the middle of the park has earned him many accolades from all corners of the globe. In an illustrious career at two of the biggest clubs in Italy (AC Milan and Juventus), Pirlo has won six Serie A titles, two Copa del Rey titles, and two Champions League titles. With Italy, he has won the most coveted trophy in the world of football — the World Cup (2006).
However, the pianist is now 36 years old and has now gone into the semi-retirement of the MLS. This would definitely mean that Pirlo won’t be able to win the Ballon d’Or in the future.
The Manchester United forward has been a shining light for his side over the past decade or so, having brought more and more silverware to the Old Trafford. Five Premier League titles, two League Cup titles, and a Champions League title is what Rooney has managed to win with Manchester United and he has also often been considered as one of the best strikers in the world.
Rooney though, is one of the most selfless forwards around, who likes to chase the ball even into midfield. This characteristic of his probably also reflects on the fact that the England forward has not won many individual awards in his career. At the age of 30, Rooney is still considered as one of the best players in the Manchester United squad. However, his recent drop in performances this season seems to suggest that age is beginning to take a toll on the Englishman.