Ballon D’or – The Goalkeepers Who Could Have Won It
On Wednesday’s Football Show on Sky Sports, Rob Green discussed Edouard Mendy’s omission from the Ballon D’or nominations.
Several of his Champions League winning Chelsea teammates were included. Pertinent during the debate was how goalkeepers are not seriously considered for such awards, with the only winner being Yev Lashin in 1963.
The Yev Lashin award, now the Golden Glove, was established for the World Cup in 1994, but Green suggested a similar award akin to the Ballon D’or, only for goalkeepers.
Given the overlooking of Mendy who has been superb for Chelsea since his arrival last summer, this isn’t a bad idea.
On the subject, we look at some goalkeepers who could have brought home Europe’s greatest individual accolade.
Gianluigi Buffon – 2006
Fabio Cannavaro was the last defender and the penultimate player to win the Ballon D’or prior to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s dominance of the trophy. Cannavaro picked up the award after starring in Juventus’s Serie A victory (scrapped due to match fixing) and Italy’s historic World Cup win.
Club and national teammate Gianluigi Buffon, who claimed second, could argue that he deserved it as much. Buffon is the only goalkeeper to have featured in the top three since 2006 and only the second since Ivo Viktor in 1976.
With goalkeepers in the modern day needing to above and beyond for recognition, it shows just how good Buffon was in his heyday. He may feel hard done by to miss out in 2006, especially given some of the outstanding saves he made in the showpiece final against France.
Oliver Kahn - 2002
Going back further into the 2000’s and the first to be named in the Ballon D’or top three since the 1970’s, Oliver Kahn. Kahn had performed heroically for Bayern in the Champions League final the year prior, saving three penalties and in 2002 had led his Germany side to the World Cup final, conceding just once in the process.
The maverick German was at the height of his powers in 2002 and although the terrific Ronaldo was the eventual winner, would have been slightly disappointed (or enraged knowing him) to just miss out on the Ballon D’or.
Kahn saw his compatriot Manual Neur place third in 2014, just the second goalkeeper to do so since Kahn himself.
Dino Zoff - 1982
Another World Cup hero, the great Dino Zoff became the competition’s oldest ever winner in 1982. At 40 the legendary Italian goalkeeper was also named in the team of the tournament and won Serie A with Juventus.
He would play into the 1982-83 season for club and country before retiring aged 41 at the very top. Compatriot and clubmate Paolo Rossi took the 1982 Ballon D’or, but Zoff didn’t even make it into the top five.
Rossi was a deserved winner, but it would have been fitting to commemorate such a long-standing talent as Zoff’s with an individual accolade to reflect it.