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The best baller

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us, and teams and fans are already excited about the world’s biggest tournament. This will be the first time the World Cup will be played in winter, so the club football season will go on a break to accommodate the month-long football fiesta. And as with every World Cup, the best players of the game will be in Qatar and while winning the trophy is the ultimate prize, there are individual accolades too. 

As with every edition, the World Cup in Qatar will have five individual awards. These are The Golden Boot (top scorer), The Golden Glove (best goalkeeper), The FIFA Young Player Award, The FIFA Fair Play Trophy, and The FIFA Golden Ball, an award bestowed to the best player of the entire World Cup. 

Founded in 1982, the FIFA Golden Boot award has been won by players who have gone on to become legends of the game. Players from all positions across the field are eligible to win the prize. However, the award has been dominated by attacking players ever since its inception. Out of the ten awards, only two were won by non-attacking players. 

In addition, only three winners of the Golden Ball were on the team that won the World Cup. And the last time a Golden Ball winner won a World Cup was all the way back in 1994 when Romario won it playing for Brazil. Since then, the winner of the award has, at best, reached the final but failed to end on the right side of the final. 

Like the Golden Boot, the Golden Ball also has awards for the second and third-best players, the silver ball and the bronze ball. 

The first official edition of the award went to Italian striker Paolo Rossi, with Brazilian Falcao and German Karl-Heinz Rummenigge winning the silver ball and bronze ball, respectively. Argentina, Italy and Brazil are the joint most successful nations, with two winners each. Next on the list are Germany, Croatia, Uruguay, and France, with one winner each. 

One of the most memorable golden ball winners’ performances came in 1986. It was the tournament of Diego Maradona, whose supreme individual displays helped Argentina to their second title. In 2002, Oliver Kahn produced the best display ever by a goalkeeper, helping Germany reach the final. This is the only time a goalkeeper was voted the best player of the tournament. 

The 2014 edition saw the best of Lionel Messi at the World Cup as the Argentine helped his country reach the final. While they lost the final to Germany, Messi’s impressive displays won him the Golden Ball.

In the last edition, Luka Modric won the award for leading Croatia to the World Cup final, a first for the country. He is, to date, the only central midfielder to win the prize and would also be named the Ballon d’Or winner.

FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Winners List

No. Year Venue  Winner Country 
1 1982 Spain  Paolo Rossi  Italy
2 1986 Mexico Diego Maradona  Argentina 
3 1990 Italy Salvatore Schillaci Italy
4 1994 USA Romario Brazil
5 1998 France  Ronaldo Brazil
6 2002 S.Korea/Japan  Oliver Kahn Germany
7 2006 Germany Zinedine Zidane France
8 2010 South Africa Diego Forlan Uruguay 
9 2014 Brazil Lionel Messi Argentina
10 2018 Russia Luka Modric Croatia


The current edition of the World Cup will also feature some of the best players in football. The list includes Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, Kevin de Bruyne, Neymar, Vincius Jr, Leroy Sane, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi, which shows how tough it will be this year to be crowned the best player at the best tournament.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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