The 15 Ballon d’Or Winners Who Never Won the Champions League

Imagine winning the Ballon d’Or. A lifetime of blood, sweat and tears finally recognised by being voted the very best footballer in all of the lands. 

Now, imagine winning the Champions League. Months and months of hard work finally paying off as your team is crowned kings of Europe. 

Both are pretty good feelings, right?…But which is better?

Well, the following players will never know. They are part of a very exclusive club of Ballon d’Or winners who have never lifted the European Cup. 

Strap yourself in for some heartbreak ladies and gentlemen, it’s going to be emotional. 

Stanley Matthew (1956)

Stanley Matthews

​The evergreen Sir Stanley Matthews was the inaugural winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1956. His age at the time? 41 years young. 

Despite having his career interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, the skilful and speedy Matthews still managed to clock up nearly 700 appearances by the time he finally retired at the age of 50. 

He’s also the only player who’s ever likely to win the award while playing for Stoke City – though Rory Delap must have come close in 2009? 

Omar Sivori (1961)

Omar Sivori,Elsener

A ​Lionel Messi prototype, this fleet-footed Argentine became a ​Juventus legend, leading the Old Lady to three Scudetti in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

However, the European Cup eluded Sivori. In fact, he never even got past the quarter-finals. Poor fella.

Josef Masopust (1962)

​​The best Czech player of all time, Josef Masopust scooped the Ballon d’Or the same year that he scored the opening goal of the 1962 World Cup final.

The closest he came to securing Europe’s greatest club prize came during the 1966/67 season when Celtic’s ‘Lisbon Lions’ defeated Dukla Prague in the semi-finals. 

Lev Yashin (1967)

Goalkeeper Lev Yashin (black) from the S

Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper in the ​history of the universe (that we know of) to ever ​win the Ballon d’Or. That should give you some indication of the sort of talent we are talking about. 

The Moscow stopper was an incredible player with cat-like reflexes and a love of fashion. Always kitted out in full black strip with his signature flat cap, Yashin made it cool to be a goalkeeper.

Florian Albert (1967)

​After the Mighty Magyars had fallen, Florian Albert spearheaded a new generation of Hungarian footballing royalty. 

Nicknamed the Emperor, Albert was a classy, composed forward with a remarkable scoring record for Ferencvaros – where he spent the entirety of his career. Despite dominating the Hungarian League, they were never able to replicate this success on the European stage.

Oleg Blokhin (1975)

Oleh Blokhin

​Spending most of his 20-year career at Dynamo Kyiv, the Tzar’s blistering pace and incisive dribbling saw him win the Ballon d’Or in 1975. 

After his playing days came to an end Blokhin kept himself busy by entering politics as well as having a lengthy managerial career with the likes of Olympiacos, AEK Athens and Ukraine. 

Allan Simonsen (1977)​

​​1977 Ballon d’Or winner and the only player to score in the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup finals? Corrrr, Allan Simonsen has had quite the career. 

The icing on the cake would have been a European Cup win, but ​Liverpool – who defeated the Dane’s Borussia Monchengladbach side in the 1977 final – made sure that didn’t happen.

Igor Belanov (1986)

​Perhaps the most forgotten Ballon d’Or winner of all time, Igor Belanov – who scooped the award in 1986 – may be more memorable if he had won a European Cup during his career.

The closest the diminutive number ten came was a Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1986. That came two years before the lowest moment of his career – missing a penalty in the European Championship final. Ouch. 

Lothar Matthaus (1990)

Lothar Matthaus

​Lothar Matthaus has come closer than anyone on this list to tasting Champions League glory – three minutes to be precise.

After losing the 1987 European Cup final courtesy of two late Porto goals, history repeated itself in 1999 when Manchester United scored twice in stoppage time to secure the trophy. That’s gotta sting.

Roberto Baggio (1993)


​One penalty miss has callously clouded the legacy of one of the best Italian players of all time. It’s easy to forget that prior to blazing his spot-kick over the bar, Baggio had almost single-handedly dragged Italy to the final of the 1994 World Cup.

It’s also easy to forget that he never won the Champions League. In fact he never even came close, only taking part in the competition on two occasions

George Weah (1995) 


​The only African player to even win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah’s combination of skill, strength and speed made him the most fearsome striker in the world in the mid-1990s.

While at Milan, Weah was part of an impressive strike force including Roberto Baggio and Dejan Savicevic, making it curious that they never managed to taste continental success. 

Ronaldo (1997 and 2002)

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player

​Ronaldo’s career is tarnished somewhat by a feeling that he could have been ​even better if his body had allowed.

Persistent knee issues affected him throughout the second half of his playing days, which goes some way to explaining why one of the best strikers of all time never lifted the Champions League trophy. He did score 14 goals in the competition, mind. And got ​a standing ovation against Man Utd.

Michael Owen (2001)

Villa v Liverpool x

​Another scarily good talent who had his career marred by injury, Michael Owen was just 21 when he won the Ballon d’Or. 

He was snapped up by ​Real Madrid three years later, hoping to help Los Blancos lift the 2005 Champions League title. In a cruel twist of fate, ​Liverpool – the club Owen had departed in search of European glory – would end up winning it. What a stinger.

Pavel Nedved (2003)

Pavel Nedved beat off competition from Thierry Henry and Paolo Maldini to surprisingly win the Ballon d’Or in 2003. 

The floppy-haired free-kick specialist came agonisingly close to winning the Champions League the same year, missing out on Juventus’ defeat to Milan in the final due to suspension. Perhaps it would have been different if he was available… 

Fabio Cannavaro (2006)

Fabio Cannavaro

​Contrary to ​some people’s belief, defenders can and should be awarded the Ballon d’Or from time to time. Case in point, Fabio Cannavaro – whose stoic performances helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup. 

Though Cannavaro has reached the pinnacle of the international game, he never won the Champions League, coming closest by reaching the quarter-finals with Juventus in 2006 – where they were eliminated by eventual finalists ​Arsenal.


Every Player Who Won the Champions League, World Cup & Ballon d’Or

​There are a handful of trophies which truly define a player’s career.

For all the fantastic Copa Libertadores, Gold Cup or FA Cup winners there have been over the years, there are only two trophies across the world which are held above all others – the World Cup and Champions League.

On top of those is the Ballon d’Or, which is given to the best player on the planet every year (since 1995), but throughout history there have only ever been eight winners of all three…

Sir Bobby Charlton

Bobby Charlton

Champions League: 1968

World Cup: 1966

Ballon d’Or: 1966

The Ballon d’Or isn’t always handed out to a player based on their performances at international level, and it certainly isn’t the case that Sir Bobby Charlton didn’t deserve the award for his quality at club level, but the Manchester United legend was crucial to England’s success in 1966.

He scored in the group stages against Mexico, but most notably it was his two goals against Portugal in the semi-finals which booked England’s place in world football’s showpiece fixture.

Charlton even set up Sir Geoff Hurst’s equaliser in the final, as England went on to beat Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium.

Gerd Müller


Champions League: 1974, 1975, 1976

World Cup: 1974

Ballon d’Or: 1970

Der Bomber might have been helped by the fact he was part of a Germany and Bayern Munich team who were one of the greatest of all time, but Gerd Müller was still one of the best strikers to ever play the sport.

He’s one of just two out and out strikers to ever win the World Cup, Champions League and Ballon d’Or.

He finished his career with 515 goals to his name and to this day remains Bayern Munich’s best goalscorer of all time, as well as the Bundesliga’s top marksman.

Franz Beckenbauer

World Cup Finals - "The Netherlands v BRD"

Champions League: 1974, 1975, 1976

World Cup: 1974

Ballon d’Or: 1972, 1976

Although it was Müller who was firing in the goals for Bayern Munich and Germany, Franz Beckenbauer was the real star of those teams.

Der Kaiser is one of just 10 players throughout history who have ever won more than one Ballon d’Or – he’s the only defender to ever pick up at least two awards – and he was part of a Bayern Munich team which won three Champions Leagues in a row.

Paolo Rossi

Paolo Rossi

Champions League: 1985

World Cup: 1982

Ballon d’Or: 1982

Like Sir Bobby Charlton, Italy’s Paulo Rossi was a lot more than just a player who put in his best performances at international level, but Pablito’s display at the 1982 World Cup was impossible to ignore when it came to deciding that year’s Ballon d’Or.

Rossi has a quiet tournament until the quarter-final stage, where he scored a hat-trick against Brazil and went on to net a brace in the semi finals against Poland.

Pablito even scored in the final, opening the scoring against Jupp Derwall’s Germany with a header, with Italy going on to win the game 3-1 thanks to goals from Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli.

Zinedine Zidane


Champions League: 2002

World Cup: 1998

Ballon d’Or: 1998

Before Zinedine Zidane became a Champions League-winning manager at Real Madrid, he was a Champions League-winning midfielder in the Spanish capital.

His famous volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen helped him to become the fifth player to ever win the Champions League, World Cup and Ballon d’Or – the last two which he won four years prior to Europe’s elite club competition.

It was during his time at Juventus where Zidane helped to inspire his national team to the World Cup in 1998, eventually earning himself a groundbreaking £46.6m move to Real Madrid just after the turn of the millennium.



Champions League: 2003

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 1999

Despite Brazil’s consistent success throughout the 20th century, it wasn’t until AC Milan lifted the Champions League in 2003 that a star player from the Seleção had claimed all three major trophies in their career.

Rivaldo had only moved to Europe three years before winning the Ballon d’Or, and despite losing the World Cup final to Zidane’s France in 1998, the Brazil legend eventually got his hands on that trophy four years later – scoring in five consecutive games during their route to the final.

He ultimately had to leave Barcelona to get his hands on the Champions League, but even then Rivaldo was only an unused substitute as Milan secured the trophy thanks to a penalty shootout against Juventus.



Champions League: 2006

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 2005

Ronaldinho hadn’t long been at Paris Saint-Germain when he won the World Cup in 2002, but the former Grêmio had to wait until a move to Barcelona before he started getting the worldwide recognition he deserved.

He pipped Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to the Ballon d’Or in 2005, while the following year Ronaldinho was part of the Barcelona team which beat Arsenal back at his old stomping ground, the Parc des Princes, in the Champions League final.



Champions League: 2007

World Cup: 2002

Ballon d’Or: 2007

Neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi have (or, likely will) join this list, so it looks set that Brazil legend Kaká will remain the most recent inductee into the most elite group of players to win football’s three most coveted prizes.

Kaká had only just turned 20 when he won the World Cup with Brazil, although he only appeared in one match as a second-half substitute.

It would be another year before Milan snapped him up from São Paulo, but it was with the Rossoneri where Kaká would win the Champions League and Ballon d’Or in 2007, going on to join Real Madrid in a move which made him Brazil’s most expensive player.

For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!


Luca Toni Heaps Praise on Harry Kane & Assesses Juventus’ Future Forward Options

​Italy World Cup winner Luca Toni has stated that Harry Kane is the most forward under 30 in the world, but also insisted that he wouldn’t be able to alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus. 

Juve’s forward-line is an ageing group of players, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain now 35 and 32 years old respectively. As these two are the club’s only out-and-out strikers, addressing the need for at least one younger player in that department may soon become a matter of urgency.

Luca Toni

Toni was a striker himself, and turned out for the likes of ​Bayern Munich, Roma and ​Juventus, as well as scoring 16 times from 47 caps for the Italian national team.

Speaking to ​Tuttosport, Toni assessed the options to fill the void of the Juventus attack once the likes of ​Ronaldo and ​Higuain either move on or retire.

Asked of his view on a number of Europe’s best strikers, Toni immediately replied: “​Kane. True centre forward, who fills the area like few others: he is technical, good at playing with the team and above all lethal in the last few meters.

On the vital aspect of age, Toni felt Kane was a good match.

“Being 26, he still has room for growth.”

Harry Kane

The interviewer moved on to suggest that ​Mauro Icardi might be a better fit instead. On whether Icardi is at the same level as Kane, Toni answered: “No, [he’s] a little further down.

“If Kane is 9 as an absolute value, Icardi is at 8. He is less complete, he must improve in [how he links] with the team.”

When Timo Werner of Leipzig was considered, Fiorentina legend Toni insisted he “has to demonstrate a lot compared to a Kane or an Icardi.

Toni, while he did heap the praise on Kane, did insist he had his doubts over whether or not the forward could play with Ronaldo at Juventus. 

“Kane, who I consider the best of the under-30s, is not necessarily perfect for Cristiano Ronaldo.

In fact, Toni stated that Gabriel Jesus would be a better fit for the Ronaldo-led Juve. 

Harry Kane,Gabriel Jesus

“He is fast, technical, he needs assists. Of these strikers, the Brazilian from ​Manchester City is least like a striker. But he would be the most suitable to play with Cristiano Ronaldo.”


Brazil Legend Pelé Calls Cristiano Ronaldo the ‘Best Player in the World’

​Brazilian footballing royalty Pelé has called Cristiano Ronaldo the best player currently playing, but insisted that the rank of the greatest of all time is still held by himself. 

Pelé has never been shy about issuing grand declarations about the modern game following his retirement but equally never shuns the opportunity to further his own legend.


Pelé announced himself on the global stage at 17 years of age as Brazil won the 1958 World Cup, with the young striker scoring six in the tournament including two in the final. 

That was the first of Pelé’s three world titles in 12 years as he earned unprecedented acclaim and scored hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of goals. 

In an interview with Brazilian YouTube channel ​Pilhado, Pelé revealed his assessment of the modern day greats, saying: “Today the best player in the world is ​Cristiano RonaldoI think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about [Lionel] Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”


Having kicked the hornet’s nest that is the Messi-Ronaldo debate (and favouring the Portuguese despite his prior insistence that he would ​choose to play with the Argentinian) Pelé was then pressed for his thoughts on the greatest player of all time. 

The 79-year-old said: “It is a question that is difficult to answer. We cannot forget about Zico, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. And in Europe, Franz Beckenbauer and ​Johan CruyffNow, it’s not my fault, but I think Pelé was better than them all.”

Not only does he dip into the third person but when crowning himself the greatest footballer the game has seen, Pelé seems to be suggesting he had no choice other than to pick himself.


Unsurprisingly, the Brazilian legend, who scored 1,281 goals in his career (……allegedly), didn’t include Diego Maradona in that rundown of the candidates. 

The pair have exchanged numerous spats over the years and it wouldn’t be out of the question that Pelé’s decision to pick Ronaldo over Maradona’s compatriot ​Messi was another chance to bring the Argentine down a peg or two. 


UEFA Postpone Champions League & Europa League Finals Over Coronavirus Crisis

UEFA has announced its decision to postpone both the men and women’s Champions League finals, as well as the Europa League showpiece, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in football being halted around the world, with nations entering lockdown states.

Major leagues are still plotting their return dates, though it remains to be seen how long the crisis will last. UEFA has now officially confirmed May’s finals will take place at later dates.

​The governing body revealed in a statement on their ​website: “UEFA has formally taken the decision to postpone the club finals originally scheduled for May 2020.

“No decision has yet been made on rearranged dates. The working group, established last week as a result of the conference call among the stakeholders of European football, which was chaired by UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, will analyse the options available. 

“The group has already begun its examination of the calendar. Announcements will be made in due course.”

While Atalanta, RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid all progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals as their games were played before football entered its hiatus, the winners of the ties between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Juventus and Lyon, Barcelona and Napoli, and Bayern Munich and Chelsea are still to be determined.

The first legs of the Women’s Champions League were due to be played this week, with Lyon among the favourites to win the competition.


The round of 16 in the Europa League is also yet to be concluded, with teams like Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen in strong positions, though the first legs between Inter and Getafe, and Sevilla and Roma were not played.

Premier League games could be played ​behind closed doors to ensure the season can end, while the Spanish Football Federation and La Liga both ​confirmed on Monday that all football in the country will be postponed indefinitely until it is safe to return.

An IOC member has also revealed tha the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed due to the pandemic.