It would be justified to say the world has been unfair towards the defenders when it comes to Ballon d’Or. A defender is often subject to harsh criticism for that ‘one error’ but earns the spotlight only after a series of impeccable tackles.
The same describes the nature of their job as opposed to forwards’ who get remembered for the goal they scored. Whether it’s a penalty or simply a tap-in, the goalscorer is always remembered!
The pages of the Ballon d’Or history book possess just three defenders — Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer and Fabio Cannavaro. With Franz Beckenbauer being the only multiple (twice) Ballon d’Or winning defender.
Over the course of years, especially since the start of the new century, we have witnessed the emergence of supreme quality defenders. The kind that makes any venomous attackers meek. The growing popularity and impact of such anchors made the games much more exciting and eventful.
However, the Ballon d’Or still remained a forbidden fruit for them.
Here is the list of five such defenders who deserved the Ballon d’Or.
#5 Paolo Maldini (AC Milan, Italy)
From 90s, the name ‘Maldini’ started to resonate with ‘The Wall’. The gruesome defender hailing from Milan struck fear in the minds of even the best forwards.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Paolo joined the ranks of the Italy and Milan defensive lines and spent a career that spread across 25 years. In the process, achieving so much that not many would ever be able to replicate.
Maldini was the guardian of the famous Invincible Milan’s last line. Alongside his club, the Milan native went on a spree to win every trophy at club level and conquer Europe.
The man who has won five Champions Leagues and the oldest player/captain (38 years and 331 days) to win the trophy undoubtedly deserved the Ballon d’Or.
#4 Dani Alves (Brazil/Barcelona)
The former Brazilian international holds a record that no one could match yet. Dani Alves has won a total of 42 major trophies at club and international levels.
The same record reflects the shimmering career that he has had. In his first season with Barcelona, Alves won the treble and he repeated the feat, six years later in 2015.
He was the backbone of Barcelona and Brazil’s defense who never shied away from cutting into the opposition half to aid his forwards. The 2019 Copa America Golden Ball winner has won numerous trophies with his national side too.