Ten legends who deserved to win the Ballon d'Or

 After Lionel Messi claimed the prestigious award for the fourth time on Monday, 

 takes a look at some of the greatest players in history that were never crowned the world's best

Franco Baresi

Between 1987 and 1992, AC Milan duo Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten shared four Golden Balls between them, but at least one of these should have gone to their captain, Baresi. No defender has ever reached a higher level than the Italian did during his peak. The Milan defence at the turn of the 90s is widely regarded as the greatest back four of all time, and Baresi was the captain, leader and brains behind it. 

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry struck a record-breaking 226 goals and secured two Premier League titles in his first spell at Arsenal, but his efforts were not enough to win the France international the coveted prize. 2004 should perhaps have been his year, as Arsenal's Invincibles became English champions without losing a game, and an unplayable Henry struck a staggering 39 goals in all competitions. However, Andriy Shevchenko took the spoils in that particular contest. 

Andres Iniesta

Had Andres Iniesta not played in the same era as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it is almost certain that he would have collected the award by now. The 28-year-old has been a mainstay of the Barcelona team for the best part of a decade, helping the Blaugrana to three Champions Leagues and five Liga titles. Beyond that, he has arguably been the star of the all-conquering Spain side of the last four years, scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, and scooping the award for the best player of Euro 2012. 

Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn was in superhuman form in 2001 and 2002, and could have won the Ballon d'Or in the first of those two seasons after saving three spot-kicks as Bayern Munich beat Valencia on penalties in the Champions League final. Kahn also captured the Bundesliga but was eventually beaten into third place, with Liverpool's Michael Owen taking the honour.

Paolo Maldini

Maldini's incredible career spanned almost a quarter of a century at the top, and it seems inconceivable that the greatest left-back of all time – a winner of seven Scudetti and five European Cups among countless other accolades – never added this trophy to his cabinet. His most prominent year was arguably 1994, when he superbly marshalled an AC Milan backline minus Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta to thrash Cruyff's Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League final. The prize that year, however, went to Hristo Stoichkov. 

Bobby Moore

Moore was indispensable when captaining England to their World Cup success over Germany in 1966, but it was Bobby Charlton who emerged victorious, even though he was just as much a worthy recipient. His best finish proved to be second place in 1970 – the year he executed that signature tackle on Brazil's Jairzinho.

Historically defenders have struggled for recognition, with midfielders and forwards dominating the prestigious prize ahead of the likes of Moore, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, whose outstanding efforts were also overlooked.

Gunter Netzer

Some 40 years ago there was little discussion as to who the world's best midfielder was, with Germany playmaker Gunter Netzer the outstanding player in his position. The Borussia Monchengladbach star produced one of the best ever international performances at Wembley during West Germany's 3-1 quarter-final first-leg triumph over England in the 1972 European Championship and was the inspiration as they went on to lift the cup. Netzer finished joint-second with team-mate Gerd Muller as captain Beckenbauer collected the first of his two Golden Balls. 

Ferenc Puskas

More than 30 of the Ballon d'Or winners since 1956 have been forwards, but some attacking legends have still been overlooked. Despite Real Madrid's success in the fledgling years of the European Cup, Ferenc Puskas astonishingly never picked up the prize and only managed a second place in 1960 behind Luis Suarez. Had the Ballon d'Or been created a few years earlier, when Hungary were revolutionising international football and thrashing England 6-3 at Wembley, Puskas would surely have succeeded. 


Despite falling short for Spain, Raul's record of 323 goals, six La Ligas, three European Cups, and numerous moments of magic for Real Madrid makes him one of the most decorated players never to lift the title. Second in 2001 was his best placing, a year when he won La Liga with his highest ever tally of goals, but Michael Owen collected the accolade. 

Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff took second place in 1973 when embarking on a record-breaking run of not conceding an international goal for 21 months. He was runner-up to Johan Cruyff, who was a deserved winner after leading Ajax to a third European Cup on the bounce. The Netherlands giants beat Zoff's Juventus 1-0 in the final, but had Juventus won, Zoff may have pipped Cruyff to first place. He famously lifted the World Cup at the age of 40 in 1982, and that year also won a sixth Scudetto with the Bianconeri, but it was team-mate Paolo Rossi whose six goals in Spain turned the heads of the judges.