Barcelona and the highest awards of football have always been synonymous with each other. Despite the club’s latest tailspin that have seen the fans getting irked with every passing day, questioning the moves of the management, the tactics of their preceptor and scrutinize every single move of theirs, there cannot be any compromise with what the club has achieved in its glittering antiquity.
It has evolved from being a club to a family for zillions of people across the world, connecting them through football and providing them the hope of better days. It is not just players, but fans who don on that jersey with that prestigious crest, feel themselves to be a part of this institution’s historic legacy.
Today we will look at the Ballon d’Or winners from Camp Nou who set themselves apart with an ecstatic brand of football that has always left the world reeling, may it be from the Dutch virtuoso, Johan Cryuff or the Brazilian talisman, Ronaldinho or the Argentine God, Lionel Messi.
1. Luis Suarez – 1960
He isn’t the illustrious Suarez from Uruguay that we are aware of. He is an even more glittering moniker from Spain who has left a blazing trail of goals to every single club that he was a part of. His illustrious career spanned from Deportivo La Coruna to Sampdoria. In the middle he plied his trade for clubs like Espana Industrial, Barcelona and Inter Milan. He rose to his peak of prominence at Cam Nou that saw him playing 122 games out of which he strung 61 goals and countless assists.
His commanding stature and his knack for those numbers always placed him a notch above his fellow counterparts. In 1960, he left the world enthralled with an absolutely incredulous brand of football that saw him notching up the highest individual award in footballing history.
2. Johan Cryuff – 1973, 1974
This feeling at the biggest stage of football wasn’t his first rodeo for El Salvador. He already kissed the pinnacle once for Ajax before he arrived at Camp Nou to leave the fans mesmerized and chanting his name until they ran short of breath. He wasn’t just a footballing icon but a hero from one of those fables that we so very look up to as kids.
He spent a major part of his career at Ajax and Barcelona, scoring 190 and 48 goals respectively for the stalwarts. In 1973 and 1974, despite not finding the net a record number of times, the impact that he had on the games was monumental. The leadership, the transition and the inculcation of footbaling genius in his team-mates that he did reflected in the charismatic brand of football played by the Catalans. He won the Ballon d’Or in these two consecutive years without any competition.
3. Hristo Stoichkov – 1994
It was a long halt for the Barcelona fans to once again immerse them in the river of glory led by the Bulgarian Brute in 1994. Hristo Stoichkov was a splendid attacking force that saw him hammering 76 goals for Barcelona from 151 games. He was picked up from CSKA Sofia where he went on to score 81 goals from 119 matches.
His arsenal was filled with stunning tricks of the trade that left the defenders bamboozled and the custodians begging for mercy. His nimble-footed twist and turns, his dominant run-ins and his head-on attacking prowess in the attacking third made him one of the best at Camp Nou.
4. Rivaldo – 1999
A beast in the Brazilian colours, who was also a major craftsman in setting up Brazil’s dominance in the 2002 World Cup, Rivaldo was a man of unparalleled brilliance. Not only was he known for his thunderous strikes but also for his physical stature that left the defenders muscled and ousted of possession.
If 2002 turned out to be his culmination as a national hero, 1999 was the kiss of sky for this Selecao marksman. He was sprinkling magic in the Barcelona colours and the world could only look up in awe and fear. Before arriving to Barcelona, he already had a fair share of history that saw him pegging one goal after the other in almost every game that he played. In 1999, he turned out to be the vanguard of the Catalonian attacking force and was awarded the Ballon d’Or for his unprecedented heroics.
5. Ronaldinho – 2005
The man whose charming smile disarmed the world forever more than the brand of football that he played, Ronaldinho was a footballer of the highest gentry, ruling the roost. He ran so many rings around the defenders, literally, that they were left clutching the ground.
The sparks of brilliance which existed in Gremio and Paris Saint-Germain, exploded at Camp Nou. He played in 145 games and blasted 70 goals. It wasn’t just about scoring those goals, but the way he set them up for others was also a treat for the eyes. In 2005, he was ennobled with the honour of the Ballon d’Or, a befitting sum-up of his dominance throughout the world.
6. Lionel Messi – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019
In 2009, began the era of the Argentine sensation who left the world in a gasp of utter incredulity. The style of football, the passes, the dribbles, the touches, the brain and finally the goals, they all came together in maximum proportions to constitute the formation of Lionel Messi.
There were no parallels for this man barring Cristiano Ronaldo who kept on coming close but could not beat this man for four years. Messi has so far played 492 games for Barcelona and has smashed 447 goals along with countless assists. There is a reason why he is known as God.