Ballon d'Or winners since 2000 if each player could only win once

When it comes to the Ballon d’Or, the highest individual prize available in world football, you have to feel for everyone who isn’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Between them, they have won every single Ballon d’Or available over the last ten years, with the notable exception of Luka Modrić’s deserved win in 2018.

Each of their victories were well-deserved, of course, but their dominance has meant that many deserving players over recent years have been deprived of the trophy.

And a Reddit user called Prikulis55 has decided that it’s about time that someone went back through the Ballon d’Or records, and made sure that those players got some recognition.

They’ve produced a table which shows who would have won each year if players were only allowed to win a single Ballon d’Or, and the results make for really interesting reading.

As you’ll see from the table below, so many exceptional players have been forced to play second, third or fourth fiddle to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the last decade

The first statistic to draw your attention to is way back in 2002. Ronaldo Nazario, now disqualified after winning in 1997, would have handed the trophy over to his countryman, Roberto Carlos.

He would have become the only full-back in the 21st century to collect the esteemed award, and for his performance in Brazil’s brilliant World Cup win that year, it would’ve been well deserved.

Shifting focus to more recent times, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s wins in 2008 and 2009 would have rendered them ineligible during the 2010s – making it fair game for everyone else.

The first interesting thing that jumps out from the more recent statistics is how often Messi has denied his own teammates the chance to bask in Ballon d’Or glory.

With the ‘one Ballon d’Or per player’ rule in play, Messi would have handed the trophy to Barcelona’s famous midfield magicians in back-to-back years – Andrés Iniesta in 2010, and Xavi in 2011.

Frankly, for the amount of assists that those two went on to provide the Argentine throughout that decade, it’s the least that Messi could have done to let them have a crack at the big time!

Messi’s fellow golden trio member Neymar also would have won the 2015 Ballon d’Or aged just 23, had the rules rendered the Argentine and all other past winners ineligible.

It’s also interesting that two goalkeepers, Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Buffon, would have collected Ballon d’Or trophies from Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014 and 2017 respectively.

They would have joined Lev Yashin in the history books as one of three ‘keepers to win the prize – a status which Buffon would have particularly deserved for the career he’s had.

The ‘one victory per player’ rule would have granted Atletico Madrid some more silverware, with Falcao and Antoine Griezmann receiving trophies for their prolific form in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

And while Franck Ribery would have made France proud with a victory in 2013, Virgil van Dijk would have become the first centre back to win since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

Messi and CR7 should treasure their trophies and count their lucky stars that this rule doesn’t really exist!

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