Today marks exactly one week until the footballing world eagerly turns its attention to Zurich’s Kongresshaus, with the curtain set to rise on the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala precisely seven days from now. This milestone provides an ideal opportunity for FIFA.com to start the week with a striking statistic about the beautiful game’s most prestigious individual award.
Only one player in the past seven years has managed to interrupt superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the two top spots in the FIFA Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year results. Spaniard Andres Iniesta achieved this feat in 2010 when his winning goal in the FIFA World Cup™ Final against the Netherlands in South Africa fired his homeland to victory and earned him second place in the year-end vote behind Messi. Otherwise, the four-time Argentinian recipient and the three-time Portuguese winner were the only two men to stand on the top two steps on the podium between 2008 and 2014.
The most recent FIFA World Player of the Year accolade awarded to neither Messi nor Ronaldo went to Kaka in 2007. The Brazilian emerged triumphant in the poll ahead of the pair who would go on to dominate the award, then still both rising stars. Another magician from the land of the beautiful game could snatch the award from its two perennial recipients on the evening of 11 January, with Neymar named in the final three-man shortlist alongside Messi and Ronaldo this year. Will he succeed?