Men’s FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Winners List From Past Till Date

Let me begin by clearing the air on what is Golden Ball in World Cup? And then I’d go on to my World Cup Golden Ball winners list.

What does Golden Ball mean?

The Golden Ball award, which was first introduced in 1982 and won by Italy's Paolo Rossi, is meant for whoever emerges best player at each World Cup finals.

Since a number of players are shortlisted by FIFA technical committee, the eventual Golden Ball winner is subsequently chosen by media representatives … that basically is how the Golden Ball decided.

Take for instance, Lionel Messi Golden Ball at the World Cup came in the 2014 edition even though Argentina lost 0-1 to Germany in the final. The point is, who gets the Golden Ball doesn’t necessarily have to be the team that wins the tournament.

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Lionel Messi Golden Ball at the World Cup
Lionel Messi Controversial Golden Ball at 2014 World Cup

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The 2014 World Cup Golden Ball – which was handed to Messi – stirred some controversy. Even Sepp Blatter, ex-FIFA president, said he was “a little bit surprised” Messi was named the World Cup's best player.

For those of you who saw the tournament, do you think Messi really deserved to win the 2014 World Cup best player award?

Golden Ball World Cup 2010
Uruguay's Diego Forlan won Golden Ball World Cup 2010

Golden Ball World Cup 2010 went to Uruguay's Diego Forlan while the 2018 World Cup Golden Ball was handed to Croatia's Luka Modric.

Thus, Modric is the most recent Golden Ball winner after receiving the award in 2018, where France overcame Croatia's bold challenge in a thrilling final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium by four goals to two.

2018 World Cup Golden Ball
2018 World Cup Golden Ball went to Luka Modrić

So what's the difference between Golden Boot and Golden Ball?

The Golden Ball award – as I earlier mentioned – is presented to the FIFA World Cup tournament's best player, whereas, the Golden Boot … which I already talked about in my other article, is for top goal scorer or goal scorers at the World Cup.

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Here's a complete list of past Golden Ball winners at the men's FIFA World Cup:

World Cup Golden Ball Winners List

2018 – Luka Modric [Croatia]

2014 – Lionel Messi [Argentina]

2010 – Diego Forlán [Uruguay]

2006 – Zinedine Zidane [France]

2002 – Oliver Kahn [Germany]

1998 – Ronaldo [Brazil]

1994 – Romário [Brazil]

1990 – Salvatore Schillaci [Italy]

1986 – Diego Maradona [Argentina]

1982 – Paolo Rossi [Italy]

1978 – Mario Kempes [Argentina]

1974 – Johan Cruyff [Netherlands]

1970 – Pelé [Brazil]

1966 – Bobby Charlton [England]

1962 – Garrincha [Brazil]

1958 – Didi [Brazil]

1954 – Ferenc Puskás [Hungary]

1942 – Zizinho [Brazil]

1938 – Leônidas [Brazil]

1934 – Giuseppe Meazza [Italy]

1930 – José Nasazzi [Uruguay]

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Those are the World Cup Golden Ball Winners List of 21 players.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago