Why Pele and Maradona never won the Golden Ball


Judged by the football world as the greatest footballers of all time, Maradona and Pele do not have the Golden Ball. Reason? They have never been nominated in various editions from the 50s-90s, or the decades in which they created their myth.

The Golden Ball was in the early decades an award given to European players. Some of them, Sivori and Di Stefano, were able to win the award only thanks to the ancestors from the old continent, while Maradona and Pele never had this opportunity because of the passports, respectively Argentine and Brazilian.

his withdrawal from the world of football and the expansion of the award for every footballer in the world, Diego Maradona won the Golden Ball for career achievement. A recognition to make up for the lack of the top prize during his golden years.

In 1999, however, Pele was voted “Footballer of the Century” by 34 previous Golden Ball winners. Sir Matthews, Sívori and Best abstained while Yasin died. 17 votes, more than half, compared to Maradona, who had won the career title three years ago. This title was handed over to “O Rei” only in 2014.


It is impossible to know in retrospect if Maradona and Pele would have won one, two or five editions of the Golden Ball, if the rules were otherwise. However, some years were so dominant on the part of the two South Americans that it seems impossible, even in the face of the big winners of those editions, to look beyond the Argentine and the Brazilian.


In 1958, Pele scored about 66 goals, winning the World Cup at the age of 18. The Brazilian would have clearly triumphed