Since 1956 when the Ballon D’or was Launched by ‘France Football’, it has been the most decorated individual award for unique footballers. In the last 65 years, many standout players have managed to get their hands on the award.
Legends like Zinedine Zidane, Alfredo Di Stefano, George Best, Johan Cryuff, Ronaldo Nazario, Michael Platini, and a host of other brilliant players have been decorated for their standout performances. To put it bluntly, a good number of the very best in the game have lifted the accolade.
For the better part of two decades, The Ballon d’Or awards have been won most times by two superstars of the game, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The award remains a dream for many top football players around the world.
The 65th Ballon d’Or award is fast approaching and the winner of the most coveted football award is yet unknown to football followers. Some are rooting for different players for the best possible reasons known to them, some are emotionally attached to players because of their successful runs in the last calendar year.
The truth of the matter is that the award isn’t given to a player based on emotions, preferences, sentiment, or affiliations, it’s by voting and the actual winner always carries the majority of the votes by national team coaches, captains, and some selected journalists.
The rumors flying around the web have been gearing towards the Argentine wizard as the most likely winner but it cannot be officially announced until Monday, November 29th, 2021.
In the past couple of years, some winners stirred controversies, some football enthusiasts were bewildered because of the actual winner.
There are world-class footballers whose contribution to their respective clubs and countries were/are so glaring and worthy of being included in the awards of this magnitude but they’re not in the top 3.
These are the top five fine footballers who have never made Ballon d’Or top three in their decorated career.
5. THOMAS MULLER
Muller is a big fish in the pond of this game. He has been a top performer for his club Bayern Munich and the German national team for over 10 years. The 32-year-old remains illegitimately underrated in the topic of modern-day greats who have significantly fallen short of worthy appraisal.
Muller’s contributions to Germany and Bayern Munich are by far underappreciated in the podium of recognizable footballers like Ballon D’or despite playing a significant role in his club’s dominance domestically and their unprecedented successful runs over the years.
Muller had his imprint in Bayern Munich’s famous treble in 2012-13, scoring 23 goals and assisting 17 in all competitions that season without forgetting his contribution in 2019-2020 season repeated treble under the tutelage of Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich.
Muller’s outstanding season was when he played a significant role in Germany’s attack in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He had five goals and three assists to his name. For his contribution, Muller was decorated with the silver boot and silver ball in the World Cup.
Despite all these milestones and significant successes, Muller hasn’t for once been deemed worthy to be in the top three of the most decorated and coveted Ballon D’or award. He’s a true definition of an unsung hero in football.
4. ARJEN ROBBEN
ROBBEN isn’t a visitor in the game of football, he’s a significant figure, ARJEN is globally known and regarded as one of the greatest and finest right-wingers in modern football.
Arjen Robben is another known figure in the business to have been omitted from the Ballon d’Or podium finish. The Netherlands international won loads of silverware in a decade of a fruitful career with Bayern Munich, this included eight Bundesliga titles, five DFB Pokals, one UEFA champions league among other accolades.
Robben’s venomous partnership with Ribery is regarded as one of the most high-scoring pairs in football history. Robben’s deciding goal in the UEFA Champions League final against rivals Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 season is one of the defining moments of his career. It can be recalled that he was named the Man of the match.
2013 was one of the best outings for the Dutch forward, he was instrumental in Bayern Munich’s treble and UEFA Super Cup. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky to have been counted for the podium. He finished behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and a fellow teammate, Frank Ribery.
Robben will go down in the history of the beautiful game as one of the leading talents without being named in the top three of the coveted award like Ballon d’Or.
3. RYAN GIGGS
Ryan Giggs is a definition of fulfillment in the beautiful game of football, his longevity in the red color of Manchester United cannot be quantified with words. His 24 years of success-laden career was furnished with silverware.
He recorded a massive haul of 34 Laurels during his career at Manchester United which includes 13 English Premier League titles. Giggs was a product of the famed Class of ’92 players whose historical imprint at Manchester United under the guidance of the Scottish Greatest gaffer, Sir Alex Ferguson could be best described as a raging success.
The Wales international was a consistent fellow in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team for as long as one can remember. His unparalleled consistency, devotion coupled with successes unequivocally made him a Premier League legend. The Wales winger remains one of the Premier League’s all-time greatest.
Despite all the numerous individual accolades/awards, he won over a couple of years until his retirement in 2014, Ryan Giggs never for once made it into the top three of the Ballon d’Or.
4. LUIS SUAREZ
Suarez is a combination of controversy and talent. The Uruguay international is unequivocally one of the best finishers in the game of football but how can we talk about the passion of the enigmatic man without his occasional Hullabaloo?
Despite being controversial, his talent cannot be doubted. His excellence in front of goal is a class on its own because he has shown his prowess in different clubs. His time with Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, and currently in Atletico Madrid is a testament and proof of his ingenuity as a striker.
Without reservation, he is one of the best goal poachers in the modern era of the game. The Uruguayan during his peak in 2016 did a scoring spree with 46 goals and 25 assists. He outscored the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He won the European Golden boot in that campaign. The former Liverpool man was part of Barcelona’s legendary ‘MSN’ trio that devoured a lot of clubs with goals without forgetting his significant part in Barcelona’s treble in the 2014-15 season.
In that particular season, Suarez netted 25 goals and 23 assists. He’s a key member of Barcelona’s triumph and dominance. But how can we describe a beautiful football player of this caliber without a mention in the top three of the Ballon d’Or?
The closest that Luis Suarez came to a podium list at the Ballon d’Or awards was in 2015 when he finished fifth behind Messi (winner), Ronaldo, Neymar, and Lewandowski.
5. ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
Without sugarcoating or downplaying his exploits in the last 10 years, Robert Lewandowski is ahead of his peers in the striking position. If one is searching for a true definition of a striker, Lewandowski should be the right answer to it.
He’s currently the best poacher in the world. The Polish international, even after a couple of years in top-flight football with glaring consistency, hasn’t shown any sign of decline.
The most notable and talked about exploits of the 33 years old striker was his 2019-2020 campaign outing when he scored a staggering 55 goals in all competitions. During this time, Bayern Munich clinched their second European treble.
He’s highly placed and talked about for the winner of Ballon d’Or but due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the award wasn’t held. He’s most likely to be the winner.
The following season was no different for the Polish international, he netted 41 goals in just 29 Bundesliga appearances in the 2020-21 season. He ended the season with 48 goals and nine assists in all competitions.
He remains at the peak of his game with the Bundesliga giants. He’s helped the Bavarians win enormous Laurels in his 8 years in Munich and his goal-scoring spree in 2021-2022 with Bayern thus far is no different.
He has already netted 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances in this campaign. Lewandowski will have another chance as his performance in 2021 remains nothing short of sensational. Is he going to win the next Ballon d’Or?
Kenneth is a an avid soccer follower, fan and writer. He is a consistent follower of the sport and is a fan of Chelsea FC.