Being the best player in a World Cup is something for few. It’s so hard that it’s something no player has managed to do more than once. In 21 editions of the tournament so far, 21 different names have won the individual award. And ge listed them all.
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Carousel – Best World Cup Players — Photo: Art Editor
Brazil is the country with the largest number of representatives: seven. Then come Argentina and Italy, with three each, Uruguay, with two, and Germany, Croatia, France, Holland, Hungary and England with one. See the list below, which features Luka Modric as most recent name:
Runner-up with the surprising Croatia, Modric took the prize in Russia – and was named FIFA’s best player in the world shortly afterwards. Eden Hazard and Griezmann completed the best players podium.
Modric Ballon d’Or World Cup Croatia — Photo: Getty Images
Another loser in the decision was elected in Brazil: Messi got the prize. Thomas Müller, champion with Germany, was second, and Robben was third.
Messi with the award for the best player of the World Cup (Photo: Reuters)
The star of the World Cup in South Africa was Diego Forlan, fourth place with Uruguay. Sneijder, runner-up with Holland, and David Villa, champion with Spain, were in second and third position, respectively.
Diego Forlán at the 2010 World Cup — Photo: Quinn Rooney – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Protagonist in the final for the penalty goal and for the expulsion after the header in Materazzi, Zidane received the individual award as consolation for the defeat to Italy on German soil. Champions, Cannavaro – who would later be named best player in the world – and Pirlo completed the podium.
Zidane in action at the 2006 World Cup — Photo: LEBON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
The controversial award set before the Yokohama decision failed. Oliver Kahn, runner-up goalkeeper with Germany, was named the best player in the South Korea and Japan Cup. Ronaldo was second, and Korean Hong Myung-bo third.
Kahn lost the final to Brazil, but was elected the best player of the 2002 World Cup – Photo: Reproduction
Another vice on the list, this time with a bitter taste for Brazil. Ronaldo took the prize, followed by Croatian top scorer Davor Suker and Frenchman Lilian Thuram.
Ronaldo at the 1998 World Cup – Photo: Getty Images Agency
Finally, a champion who also got the individual prize. Romariofollowed by Roberto Baggio from Italy and Stoichkov from Bulgaria.
Romario at the 1994 World Cup — Photo: Mike Powell/ALLSPORT
Schillaci, top scorer for the third place and host Italy, took the prize. The second position went to Lothar Matthäus, champion with Germany, and the third to Maradona, runner-up with Argentina.
Salvatore Schillaci at the 1990 World Cup — Photo: Getty Images
the Cup of Diego Maradona, champion with Argentina and elected the best player of the tournament. Harald Schumacher, German, and Larsen, Dane, closed out the top 3.
Maradona with the World Cup trophy, in 1986, in Mexico — Photo: Agência AP
Algoz from Brazil and champion for Italy, Paolo Rossi was named the best player of the competition. Falcão and Rummenigge closed the podium.
Paolo Rossi was the star of the 1982 World Cup — Photo: Disclosure / Italian Federation
Another Argentine champion who took the individual prize: Mario Kempes. Paolo Rossi was in second place, and the Brazilian Dirceu was in third place.
Mario Kempes: decisive, champion, top scorer and ace in 1978 — Photo: Getty Images
The Dutch carousel didn’t take the title, but Cruyff was the best player. Beckenbauer, champion for Germany, was second. Deyna, from Poland, was in third position.
Cruyff at the 1974 World Cup — Photo: Werner Baum/picture alliance via Getty Images
Skin took the prize in the Brazilian Cup for the third time, followed by fellow countryman Gerson and German Gerd Müller.
Pele is carried in his arms during the celebration of Tri in 1970 — Photo: Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images
In the only English title in the history of World Cups, two players from the host country took the top two positions: Bobby Charlton, the best of that edition, and Bobby Moore. The Portuguese Eusébio closed the podium.
Bobby Charlton in 1966 — Photo: Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images
Garrincha was the best player in the Cup of Brazil’s second title. He was followed by Masopust from Czechoslovakia and Leonel Sánchez from Chile.
Garrincha was the highlight of the Selection in 1962 — Photo: Agência Estado
Another Brazilian on the list, in the year of the first Canadian title: Didi. Pelé, the best young player, and Just Fontaine, French top scorer – and goalscorers in a single edition – were the other highlights.
1958 World Cup -Pelé, Gilmar and Didi (right) — Photo: AP Agency
Hungary lost the final, but scored the two biggest highlights: Puskas, elected best player, and Kocsis, top scorer and second place. Fritz Walter, champion for Germany, closed the top3.
Puskas in the 1954 final – Hungary vs Germany — Photo: Reproduction SporTV
Even with the defeat at home, Zizinho represented Brazil in the first position. Uruguayans Schiaffino and Obdullo Varela were the other highlights.
1950 World Cup – Zizinho — Photo: Agência AFP
Another Brazilian better from a World Cup. This time, Leonidas da Silva, top scorer, took the prize. Silvio Piola, from champion Italy, and Sárosi, from Hungary, completed the podium.
1938 World Cup – Leonidas da Silva Brazil — Photo: Agência Estado
Playing at home and owner of the title, the Italian Giuseppe Meazza also received individual recognition. He was followed by Sindelar from Austria and Nejedly from Czechoslovakia.
1934 World Cup – Giuseppe Meazza Italy — Photo: Getty Images
In the first World Cup in history, Jose Nasazzi was the great individual highlight and also won the trophy for Uruguay. Stábile, from Argentina, and José Leandro Andrade, another Uruguayan, took the next positions.
Nasazzi, left, during the 1930 World Cup — Photo: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images