The players you forgot won the highest individual honor in football

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Only 25 men have ever won a Ballon d’Or.

In the big football schedule, there are not really many people. One would think that all fans would be able to recite them from memory as if their names were etched on a giant sacred scroll.

No, all they got was a gold ball. What’s the point?

Anyway, some winners of football’s most prestigious individual prize can sometimes be lost in history, but we’ve got you covered. Here are the players you may have forgotten who won the Ballon d’Or.

Stanley Matthews receives his first Ballon d’Or ever from Gabriel Hanot, creator of the 1956 award. Pic.twitter.com/koKNmNi67d

– The Antique Football (@AntiqueFootball) December 12, 2016

So let’s find out. England is credited with founding the professional game, reports that “football is coming home”, idolises the 1966 World Cup-winning team, but often overlooks the fact that Sir Stanley Matthews was the very first winner of the Ballon d’Or?

Show him some respect.

Former Barcelona and Inter midfielder and 1960 Ballon d’Or winner Luis Suárez Miramontes: “Give the Ballon d’Or to Lewandowski, damn it! Otherwise I’ll give him mine” [@carrusel] pic.twitter.com/YY2Xr5uWIJ

Bavaria and Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 4, 2021

Did you know that Luis Suarez you definitely know was not the first Luis Suarez to succeed in Barcelona?

Luis Suárez Miramontes was nicknamed “The Architect” because of his elegant playing style and played his role for two teams through the ages: Spain’s winning team in European Championship 64 and Inter’s back to back conquering outfit for the European Cup.

We’m pretty sure this Suarez never bit anyone during his career either. Have definitely not asked anyone on three different occasions in any case.

Today it is 90 years since the legendary Josef Masopust was born.

The World Cup runner-up with Czechoslovakia and the Ballon d’Or winner in 1962 passed away in 2015 at the age of 84. pic.twitter.com/sXjI8zGn2H

– Czech national football team (@ceskarepre_eng) February 9, 2021

When you think of Czechoslovak legends before the country split in two, Josef Bican is usually the one who gets the attention – he scored 1,812 goals after all.

But the name Masopust is often overlooked, even though he is one of the best midfielders of his generation and beat the Portuguese legend Eusebio to the Ballon d’Or.

[THREAD] Who is Flórián Albert, the winner of the 1967 Ballon d’or?

“In many other countries, Flórián Albert would have been considered the best player in the country’s history. But he was born in Hungary, and Hungary had Puskás …” pic.twitter.com/dn8qYO5fHR

– Gergő ?? (@rmgergo) May 30, 2021

Like Masopust, Albert is similarly forgotten in history because of his nationality.

A Hungarian legend, Albert, began to appear on the world stage just as Ferenc Puskas (who has won the Ballon d’Or a total of zero times, by the way) entered his twilight years with Real Madrid. And also decided to play for Spain instead.

One would think that Albert – ‘The Emperor’ – would be the one with a stadium named after him in Budapest then, but apparently not.

Oleg Blokhin raises his Ballon d’Or after being named Footballer of the Year 1975 pic.twitter.com/yJCOCHsrhs

– The Antique Football (@AntiqueFootball) January 13, 2014

Before Andriy Shevchenko won the Ballon d’Or in 2004 (if you did not know, feel free to add his name to your own personal list), there was a Dynamo Kyiv striker named Oleg Blokhin who was also quite good at scoring goals.

The former USSR international took more than 300 in his career, and although the success of his national side eluded him, he swept with him club-level awards and has a Ballon d’Or for his problems, so it’s not so bad.

Simonsen beat Kevin Keegan and Michel Platini for the prize / Alessandro Sabattini / GettyImages

Congratulations to the Danish legend Allan Simonsen, who is the shortest winner of the Ballon d’Or (yes, shorter than Lionel Messi) and the only recipient who ever played for Charlton Athletic.

Declined to Real Madrid to play at The Valley as well. I guess when you’re a Ballon d’Or winner you can do whatever you want.

The Soviet Union and Dynamo Kiev’s Igor Belanov handed over the 1986 Ballon d’Or before the European Cup quarter-final / second match against Besiktas, March 18, 1987. pic.twitter.com/zj8agtF4R7

– A Football Archive * (@FootballArchive) September 3, 2020

It turns out that Ukraine has a rather underestimated football history.

Like Blokhin and later Shevchenko, Igor Belanov made his name with Dynamo Kiev and was awarded the Ballon d’Or after winning the Soviet League, the Soviet Cup and the 1986 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

This also meant that Gary Lineker had to settle for second place in the poll – could you imagine a world where he won the Ballon d’Or? Very strange.

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