Let's Take A Minute To Appreciate Just How Mad The 2001 Ballon d'Or List Was
For the last decade, no one's paid much attention to the Ballon d'Or outside of the top two places, which are regularly dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. So when a Twitter post refreshed our memories of a time before the La Liga duo's monopolisation of world football's top individual award, we thought we'd share our excitement about it with you lot.
Obviously, there has never been a year when the Ballon d'Or shortlist was dominated by shit players, but 2001's award, won by a pre-injury prone Michael Owen, was particularly impressive.
No Englishman has scooped the award since Owen's victory in 2001 and the former Liverpool man's feat is made even more incredible when you see which players he beat to the gong.
2001 Ballon d'Or Top 10 Rankings:astonished: pic.twitter.com/FEB8ZZLRLa- FootyRoom (@footyroom) October 7, 2017
No, your eyes are not dreaming, Michael Owen, the BT Sport pundit who hates films and fun in general, was once considered to be the best footballer plying his trade in Europe. Better than Raul, Thierry Henry,Rivaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Andriy Shevchenko and Francesco Totti, even.
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Michael Owen - The one time actual best player in Europe. No, really, that happened. He was alright before his legs imploded around 2004. Images: PA
The list is almost galling when you realise two Englishmen make the top five, with David Beckham coming in fourth. Imagine England being able to brag about having two of the world's top five players within their ranks, nowadays.
Obviously, despite having Owen and Beckham at their disposal, England still struggled to prove themselves on the international stage with the top five pair, being eliminated at the quarter-final stages of the next year's World Cup, before being eliminated at the same stage of Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
Both players would end up moving to Real Madrid in the following few years, although their times at the Bernabeu were relatively unsuccessful, with Owen returning to England not long after his move to Spain and Beckham lifting just a solitary La Liga title during his five year stay in the Spanish capital.
Featured Image Credit: PA