This time it was different. He was still not sitting in his chair when the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or was announced. He rose to his feet and walked to the podium. Filled with emotions, a tearful Ronaldo could barely speak. It was the award he had been craving for in a long time and if it was not for one Messi, he would have had probably 5 more to his name. He even reserved a space in his museum back in his homeland for the award prior to the ceremony. He deservedly got what he desired but could it be the wrong timing to pin the award?
From time immemorial, no player has succeeded at the World Cup after winning the Ballon d’Or the preceding year – the curse of the Ballon d’Or. Here are the great players who fell victim to the curse.
ALFREDO DI STEFANO : Argentina and Real Madrid ace Alfredo di Stéfano won the award in 1957 but failed to help Argentina qualify for the World Cup in Sweden the following year.
Alfredo di Stéfano
ENRIQUE OMAR SIVORI : Enrique Omar Sívori was awarded the best player in 1961 after a splendid year but the Argentine-born Italian international struggled during the 1962 World Cup.
Enrique Omar Sívori
EUSEBIO : In 1966, Portugal and Benfica Legend Eusébio fell short to England after receiving the honor of the best player the previous year.
GIANNI RIVERA : In Mexico 1970, Gianni Rivera and his teammates fell short to Pelé’s genius as Brazil kicked Italy out of the tournament. His splendid performance the year before was enough for him to land the award.
Gianni Rivera Pallone d’Oro 1969
JOHAN CRUIJFF : Johan Cruijff was no exception. The Netherlands and Barcelona star man could not overcome the German side under Franz Beckenbauer in 1974 after performing marvelously the previous year to win the award.
MICHEL PLATINI : In 1986, current UEFA President, Michel Platini failed to inspire France to success despite winning the award consecutively for 3 years before the World Cup.
Michel Platini, Balón de Oro en 1983, 1984 y 1985
MARCO VAN BASTEN : Marco Van Basten, easily the best player of his time, had a disappointing World Cup season in 1990, finishing 8th. The Netherlands international won the award in 1989, his second.
Ruud Gullit + Marco Van Basten + Frank Rijkaard
ROBERTO BAGGIO : The Italian talisman, nicknamed ‘The Divine Ponytail’, played brilliantly in 1993 receiving the award for the best player in that year. Roberto Baggio seemed to be on course to break the curse but his memorable penalty miss in the final, which handed Brazil the title, made him no different from the previous ‘cursed’ players.
RONALDO : The highly talented Brazilian surely made his mark in 1997, having won the award but failed to help his team in the World Cup the next year. Brazil lost by 3 goals to nil to France in the final. Ronaldo reportedly suffered a pre-match fit.
MICHAEL OWEN : Owen, one of the few Englishmen to win the award could do nothing but watch as Ronaldinho eliminated England in the World Cup in 2002 despite winning the award the previous year.
RONALDINHO GAUCHO : After helping Brazil claim the World Cup in 2002, it was the Barcelona wonderkid’s turn to taste the spell of bad luck. Ronaldinho, having stunned the footballing world, won the award in 2005 but was unable to help his team beat France in the quarter-finals of the 2006 Copa Mudial ; falling short to Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry.
LIONEL MESSI : Diego Maradona’s lethargic and poor managerial skills were enough for a young Germany side to brush off the Argentina team. The Barcelona superstar was unable to inspire his team to victory in South Africa after enjoying an impeccable season in 2009 which saw him crowned the best player.
It is now 2014 and we are heading to Brazil. It is the turn of the in-form Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo. The goal-scoring machine enjoyed a successful season, winning trophies including La Décima and smashing records. He is in top form and has surely reached his peak. He has, as a matter of fact, improved on last year’s performance, which saw him receive the award. Will he be able to break tradition and end a curse that has stood for more than 50 years?
Portugal has been grouped with Ghana, Germany and USA.
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