Ballon d'Or: 11 of the strangest nominations for the individual award

Liverpool‘s Luis Diaz is one of 30 players to be nominated for the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

The Colombian winger is one of six players from the Merseyside club to receive the honour this year, along with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Diaz spent the first half of the 2021/22 season at FC Porto, where he scored an impressive 14 goals in 18 league games.

He then joined Liverpool in the January transfer window and was pretty good for the Reds in the latter parts of the campaign, although he only managed four goals in 13 Premier League outings.

So, was Diaz worthy of a Ballon d’Or nomination over the likes of Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Alisson Becker and Andrew Robertson? Most probably not.

Here’s how some football fans have reacted to the news:

The discussion over Diaz’s Ballon d’Or nomination on social media prompted us to take a look at some other strange ones from the 21st century.

Here are 10 more to feast your eyes on

Yoann Gourcuff (2009)

The man once tipped as the ‘next Zinedine Zidane‘ was nominated for the 2009 award after helping Bordeaux to an unlikely Ligue 1 title triumph in 2008/09.

It’s safe to say Gourcuff didn’t live up to the hype, though. The attacking midfielder flattered to deceive for much of his playing career and retired from the sport back in October 2020.

Cris (2005, 2006)

Cris, who younger football fans may never have even heard off, was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in consecutive years.

Part of Lyon’s dominant side in the early 2000s, the defender received a grand total of zero votes for the award in both years.

Cris before a match with Lyon
LYON, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 15: A portrait of Cris of Lyon prior to the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Olympique Lyonnais and Manchester United at the Municipal de Garland Stadium on September 15, 2004 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Emmanuel Olisadebe (2001)

Remember him, Portsmouth fans? Before he was flopping on the south coast, Olisadebe was in the running for the Ballon d’Or after scoring seven goals in World Cup qualifiers for Poland.

He even finished ahead of Steven Gerrard, Alessandro Del Piero, Cafu and Gabriel Batistuta in the voting, which is quite extraordinary.

Yuri Zhirkov (2008)

Zhirkov was never really anything more than a utility player at Chelsea, but he has the distinguished honour of receiving a Ballon d’Or nomination after his performances at Euro 2008 with Russia.

He didn’t pick up a single point in the voting, though, which was probably to be expected.

Yuri Zhirkov in action with Russia
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – AUGUST 20: Yuri Zhirkov of Russia is shown in action during a friendly international soccer match against Netherlands at the Lokomotiv Stadium on August 20, 2008 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dima Korotayev)

Hatem Trabelsi (2003)

Tunisian right-back Trabelsi somehow earned a nomination for the 2003 award during his days at Ajax.

Unsurprisingly, the man who had a brief stint at Manchester City in 2006/07 didn’t receive a single vote as Pavel Nedved went on to claim the prize.

Asamoah Gyan (2010)

Gyan was nominated for the Ballon d’Or while playing for Sunderland, which is quite the achievement in itself.

He was chosen mainly due to his performances at the 2010 World Cup, where he scored three goals as Ghana reached the quarter-final stage. Gyan somehow finished 18th in the 2010 Ballon d’Or voting, ahead of Dani Alves and Philipp Lahm.

Asamoah Gyan celebrates a goal for Sunderland
SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 12: Asamoah Gyan of Sunderland celebrates scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur at the Stadium of Light on February 12, 2011 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Antonios Nikopolidis (2004)

Greece stunned the world of football by winning Euro 2004 and that accomplishment saw several of their players nominated for that year’s Ballon d’Or.

Goalkeeper Nikopolidis was surprisingly one of them and took 24th spot on the list, ahead of the legendary Paolo Maldini.

Theodoros Zagorakis (2004)

Another Greek and what makes Zagorakis’ nomination such a shock is the fact he came close to winning the 2004 Ballon d’Or.

The man who captained his country to Euro 2004 glory finished fifth in the voting, behind only Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Deco and Andriy Shevchenko.

Greek legend Theodoros Zagorakis
ATHENS, GREECE – JULY 5: Greek national team captain Theodoros Zagorakis raises the trophy during a victory fiesta on July 5, 2004 at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece. Thousands of Greeks welcomed the new UEFA Euro 2004 Champions upon their arrival to Athens. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

Papa Bouba Diop (2002)

The former Fulham, West Ham, Portsmouth and Birmingham City man was a surprise inclusion in the 2002 Ballon d’Or list thanks to his World Cup heroics with Senegal

‘The Wardrobe’ scored against then holders France in the group stage as the African nation reached the quarter-finals. Diop tragically died in November of 2020 following a long illness.

Younis Mahmoud (2007)

Probably the strangest nomination of all to be honest.

Mahmoud scored Iraq’s winner in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup final and subsequently became the only man from his country to receive a Ballon d’Or call-up.

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