5 non-European players who could have won the Ballon d’Or before 1995

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“Number 1 is guaranteed more Ballon d’Or than Messi and Ronaldo.”

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NBCNEWS – The Ballon d’Or is the biggest award for the best footballer in the world. The ‘Golden Ball’ prize became the most coveted form of recognition for every player.

This award goes to the status of the greatest above the great players, and we have seen legendary footballers win it over the years.

Since its inception in 1956, the Ballon d’Or was originally reserved only for players from Europe. However, the rules were first changed in 1995, as all players who made a career across Europe were deemed worthy of the award.

George Weah quickly became the first non-European player to win the Ballon d’Or. Then, the award went global starting in 2007. It made players from all over the world eligible to win the award.

Prior to 1995, the Ballon d’Or was only awarded to European players. As a result, many great non-European players missed out on the award.

France Football then re-evaluated. On the 60th anniversary, they saw 12 Ballon d’Or awards awarded to South American players from 1956 to 1994.

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On that note, let’s take a look at 5 non-European players who could have won the Ballon d’Or before 1995.

5. Mario Kempes

Mario Kempes was the man behind Argentina’s first World Cup victory in 1978. Widely known as El Matador, Kempes was a sensational goalscorer and leader of Argentina.

Kempes scored six goals at the 1978 World Cup, winning the tournament’s Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards. The Argentine legend made his name in the history books with two goals in the final against the famous Dutch side.

Kempes may not have had a scintillating club career, but he is best known for his time at Valencia. Going to the 1978 World Cup, he was the winner of the Pichichi award in Spain.

There was no doubt that he could have won the Ballon d’Or had it not been for the eligibility criteria at the time.

4. Romario

Romario is one of the best strikers Brazil has produced. He is blessed with great dribbling and finishing skills.

He was known for his exploits at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, ​​demonstrating his strength as one of the best of his time.

Romario was crucial to Brazil’s fourth World Cup title in 1994. The Brazilian legend scored five goals in the tournament, winning the Golden Ball for his magnificent display.

In 1994, Romario also had an excellent campaign with Barcelona. For his sensational achievement, he was voted FIFA World Player of the Year.

The Brazilian great ended up scoring 55 goals for his country before hanging up his boots. There is little doubt that he deserved to win the Ballon d’Or and he would very likely have had it had it not been for the eligibility rules at the time.

3. Garrincha

The Ballon d’Or award may not be fair in celebrating the great Garrincha. Arguably the most naturally gifted Brazilian of all time.

Garrincha left an extraordinary legacy in the history of the sport. Garrincha was an integral part of Brazil’s great team in the 1950s and 1960s. He helped his country dominate the world stage in an unprecedented way.

Garrincha is a great player who has everything, technique, talent, grace, dribbling – among the important advantages he has.

The legendary striker was born with natural defects in his body, which makes him even more amazing when we think about his game.

Garrincha is often overshadowed by the fame of his teammate Pele. However, he was the undisputed star of Brazil in 1962, all the more so when his exploits helped them win another World Cup.

Garrincha is the first player in history to win the Golden Boot, Golden Ball and the World Cup himself in the same tournament. The 1962 Ballon d’Or winner, Josef Masopust, is nowhere near the achievement of the Brazilian.

Garrincha is a fan favorite for his charisma on and off the pitch. That’s why he was hailed as “The joy of the people”. Undoubtedly, he could have won the Ballon d’Or in 1962, had non-Europeans qualified for the award.

2. Diego Maradona

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Diego Maradona is a force of nature. His impact on the game made him immortal with his revolutionary charm on the pitch while garnering immense popularity in Argentina.

Argentina’s legendary exploits in 1986 have been etched into football folklore, making the Ballon d’Or award seem like insufficient honor for the legend.

Following a lackluster performance in his first World Cup, Maradona took matters into his own hands in the 1986 World Cup campaign. He scored five goals, including the biggest goal in World Cup history against England ‘The Hand of God Goal’. His exploits helped Argentina win their second World Cup in history.

Igor Belanov was a Ballon d’Or winner in 1986, but he is not at all like Maradona. Maradona was awarded the honorary Ballon d’Or award in 1995, but one would be ridiculous to dispute the fact that he deserved a real deal.

1. Pele

The age-old debate about who is the best player will continue to rage on as it has for decades. Of course, Pele has always been a big name in the debate about who is the greatest footballer of all time. The Brazilian legend was the first football superstar, especially with his record still echoing decades after his retirement.

Pele, as evidenced by his incredible goalscoring record, is a clinical finisher. With an alleged over 1,000 goals to his name, Pele remains in a league of his own.

He led Brazil to three World Cup victories and is the only player in history to be part of three World Cup title-winning teams.

For his exploits, Pele was awarded an honorary Ballon d’Or award in 2013, with a deal that ensured that the Brazilian could earn multiple Ballon d’Ors during his time.

As per France Football’s re-evaluation, Pele could win as many as seven Ballons d’Or, if he qualifies. If anyone could win more Ballon d’Or awards than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it would almost certainly be Pele.

(atmaja wijaya/yul)

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