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The Ultimate Non-Ballon d'Or XI

Ballon d'Or is the biggest individual award in football. Let’s take a look at the Ultimate Non-Ballon d'Or XI - an all-star team dedicated to the unrewarded.

Last updated: 26.06.2019
Football The Ultimate Non-Ballon d'Or XI | Sports Social Blog

It’s common knowledge that the Ballon d'Or is the biggest individual award in football. It makes the front pages and it gets all sorts first class reception. Football fans anticipate it like it’s their next birthday, hoping their favourite player will win and in these times, unless you support CR7 or LM10, you are out of luck(unless you were a Modric fan that one time). But of course, since there is only one person that can claim it, several great players have been left trophyless. Often times the winner has been controversial and of course, there’s the fact that you can’t satisfy everyone with your pick. Despite that, there have been some immensely talented players who have gone unrewarded. A lot of greats who have had huge success in the team awards have often been overshadowed for one reason or the other. Without further ado let’s take a look at the Ultimate Non-Ballon d'Or XI - an all-star team dedicated to the unrewarded( but perhaps measuring up the people who won the awards).


Formation : 4-3-3


Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel


The unfortunate fact is that the voters don’t bat too many eyes towards the man guarding the post. They are easily swayed by the attacking play and the keeper suffers on the awards circuit. He is famous for his Manchester United days. He captained the club to their 1999 UCL win and resultantly winning the Treble. He won the Euro with Denmark in 1992. Surprisingly, he racked up 10 goals in his career including one International goal. Intimidating physique, fantastic reflexes, athleticism, and his long reach enabled him to register 128 clean sheets in 310 games in the PL( A league he won 5 times). It is not rocket science to determine the fact that he’s considered to be among all time greatest goalkeepers.



Right Back: Philipp Lahm


He is not only one of the best but one of the most reliable defenders to date. A player who had that trademark German intellect and didn’t hesitate to exercise it; he was exceptional on both defensive and offensive ends. He could flank on both sides despite being right-footed. He was famous from cutting side from the flank and doing damage to the opposition. He was composed enough to know when to be aggressive and when to fall back and his precision, pace, and technique were otherworldly. His versatility also enabled him not only to appear on either flank but also play central midfield(world cup 2014 starting). Last but not least, he led Germany to their 2014 World Cup win, an award even a few Ballon D’or players haven’t achieved. Winning the Bundesliga 8 times and the UCL once almost seems like an afterthought in his catalog of achievements. Alas, he was only recognized once when he was placed 6th for the Ballon D’or race.



Centre Back: Franco Baresi


The Italian was simply one of the greatest of all time. He was the sweeper to end all sweepers; a central defender refined like it was not even humanly possible. He played his entire 20-year career with AC Milan and he is considered to be a club legend. It is mind-boggling to consider that he managed to stand out despite AC Milan’s impenetrable defensive unite comprising of  Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti, Filippo Galli and later Christian Panucci. He was quintessential in terms of defensive skills, with phenomenal pace, strength, stamina and read. His passing and ball control allowed him to advance up the field if needed and act as a playmaker. Lauded for his precise tackling, Baresi is one of the reasons why Italian football is often synonymous with great defence. His achievements are gargantuan, highlighted by 6 Serie A’s, 3 UCL’s and the prestigious 1982 World Cup.


Centre Back: John Terry


A strong and aggressive defender, Chelsea former Captain John Terry is ranked among and often at the very top of the Premier League’s all-time best defenders. Chelsea’s most successful captain, Terry won them all the accolades with 5 Premier Leagues and 1 Champions League. He is also their highest scoring defender because of his aerial dominance. He averaged 1.3 tackles and 1.6 interceptions since 2009 in his PL career along with a mammoth 5.5 clearances.  He checks all the right boxes and then some more.



Left Back: Paolo Maldini


Paolo Maldini is not only considered one of the greatest defenders but one of the greatest players of all time (And with that, the ‘all time’ dead horse has been beaten far enough but possibly not for the last time). He could easily shift between full back and central defender depending on the course of the game. Being right footed, and having started off as an RB, he had a ludicrous amount of versatility to offer. His technical ability, pace, tackling precision, general athleticism, intellect and stamina were second to none, as was his read of the game. Despite being the subject many highlight reels for some of the cleanest tackles in history, he was not overly aggressive and had a reservedness that made him stand atop all others in the football world. He is one of the most decorated in terms of club honours, having won 8 Serie A’s, 5 Champions League’s and 2 Intercontinental Cups. An easy pick and surprising to still think he never nabbed the Ballon D’or.



Left Central Midfielder: Xavi


Xavi Hernandez is considered to not only be among the greatest midfielders but arguably the greatest Spanish player of all time, not for lack of competition. He was very versatile and his accuracy was pinpoint. Perhaps his greatest ability was his vision. He was among the sharpest in the game and his ability to pick spaces and make moves accordingly was captivating. Because of this seemingly innate ability to exploit spaces, the Spaniard was perfectly suited for Barcelona’s tiki-taka based play and as a result, he won 8 La Liga’s and 4 UCL’s.



Central Defensive Midfielder: Andrea Pirlo


One of the classiest midfielders to ever grace the game, Andrea Pirlo put the ‘M’ back in Midfielder. His dribbling was top notch. He had an unmatched vision and could find his man even if the congestion was high. He had finesse and creativity that made the game a joy to watch and even towards the end of his career he was top notch. He was free kick specialist and he was a once in a generation deep-lying playmaker. He attained team titles with both AC Milan and Juventus and won a combined 6 Serie A’s and 2 UCLs. Since 2009, he averaged 2.3 key passes and 1.7 crosses per game with a passing accuracy of 86.2% and those were apparently his later years.



Right Central Midfielder: Steven Gerrard


In the modern era, there is perhaps no player as fit for the ‘Liverpool legend’ title quite like Steven Gerrard. He made the no.8 jersey significant and beloved, courtesy of his time at Anfield. He was versatile and his leadership was the subject of much admiration. He intelligence and stamina were off the charts. His vision and his precision were awe-inspiring; his long balls were the subjects of much envy as was his shooting. His vast array of skill helped him play a myriad of positions like right back and right wing even though he primarily played as a central midfielder. He won the UCL with Liverpool and was considered to be the Best player in the World in 2009 by Zidane and Pele. Since 2009 he averaged 2 key passes with an 83% passing accuracy.



Right Winger: Sir Tom Finney


The legend from Preston North End was one of the most versatile attackers of his time and could play brilliantly on either flank. While he was an RW, he didn’t hesitate to shift to the other side which is where he often played in his early years for England. He was a fast and fantastic dribbler and he was practically ambidextrous. He scored 28 goals in 1956-57 in an era where such a thing was unheard of, especially for a winger. For his immense talent, he is considered to be among the best British players of all time. He did win the FWA Player of the Year twice but was unlucky with the Ballon D’Or.



Left Winger: Thierry Henry


The Frenchman was possibly the greatest striker to grace the Premier League. He is perhaps Arsenal’s best player to date. When it came to attacking, he had it all. He was a fantastic dribbler and was adept at reading the games. His set-piece skills have been the subject of many highlight reels. His one on one finishing made him stand atop some of the most reliable attackers and his shooting, passing, and ability to lay the ball into the attack was ferocious. While he was primarily a CF, he was so adaptable that he could easily shift to the left wing and do crazy amounts of damage with his ability to place the ball into the opposite corner. He was sensible and never hesitated to pass the ball if the situation called for it and as a result, he managed almost 50 assists between ‘02-’03 and ‘04-’05. He won 1 World Cup and 2 Premier League titles.



Centre Forward: Ferenc Puskas


You’d expect nothing less from the man who has one of the most prestigious awards in modern-day football named after him. The Hungarian was arguably football’s original serial goal scorer. He scored 85 goals in 84 international games which is hard to imagine even in this day and age where Ronaldo and Messi break goal records for breakfast. That was just the beginning of his career in a way. After his international career, he moved to Spain and became one of the reasons Real Madrid is so closely associated with victory. He scored 242 goals in 262 matches in Spain and won the European Cup 3 times and the Spanish League 5 times. His partnership with fellow forward Alfredo Di Stefano is considered to be one of if not the greatest in football history.


Honorable mentions: Jurgen Klinsmann, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon, Roberto Carlos, Javier Zanetti, Dennis Bergkamp, Alessandro Nesta


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