End of an era: Ronaldo’s longevity highlighted by Ballon d’Or snub

The nominees for the 2023 Ballon d’Or were announced Wednesday evening with France Football magazine revealing the nominees included on the list for this year’s award. Sixty players have found themselves in the running; 30 for the men’s award and 30 for the women’s award. Among the men’s players nominated are Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Jude Bellingham and Kylian Mbappé.

Months after inspiring Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, Lionel Messi also finds himself included after being left off the 2022 Ballon d’Or list entirely. Harry Kane has also received a nod, along with Arsenal duo Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.

However, there is one name that stands as a glaring omission in Cristiano Ronaldo, the second-most decorated player in the history of the Ballon d’Or, who has failed to make the award list for the first time in two decades.

Indeed, the last time Ronaldo was not included as a nominee was 2003 during the very first season of his first stint as a Manchester United player. Here are a list of facts to help put that astonishing 20-year nomination streak into a bit of perspective.

1. The first time Ronaldo was included on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2004, Bellingham was just over 1 year old (1 year and 4 months).

2. The 2004 shortlist was revealed on Nov. 9, two days before Manchester United played out a drab 0-0 draw against Manchester City in the derby. After making a slow start to the season, it took Ronaldo another month to register his first Premier League goal (in a 3-0 victory over Southampton on Dec. 4, 2004)

3. Ronaldo received 19 consecutive Ballon d’Or nominations (an individual record) and found his way onto the shortlist every single subsequent year from the age of 19 through to 37.

4. Ronaldo was pitted against Zinedine Zidane on the 2004 Ballon d’Or shortlist, who later ended up coaching the Portuguese star at Real Madrid. Andrea Pirlo was also included on the 2004 longlist and duly went on to coach Ronaldo during his third and final full season at Juventus.

What’s more, Ronaldo was playing in a 2004-05 Manchester United side that included Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Michael Carrick, who were both on the coaching staff during the veteran forward’s second stint at Old Trafford.

5. Ronaldo also played against Robbie Savage, who was part of Birmingham City’s squad during the 2004-05 Premier League season. Such was the former’s longevity that he actually trained alongside Savage’s teenage son, Charlie, as part of the United first-team squad during his second spell from 2021 to 2022.

6. Four years after his maiden Ballon d’Or nomination, Ronaldo won the inaugural Puskas Award for the most beautiful goal of the year with his sensational 40-yard strike against Porto in the first leg of the 2008-09 Champions League quarterfinals.

7. Of course, Ronaldo has also won the Ballon d’Or outright on five separate occasions, with the first coming in 2008 followed swiftly by wins in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. His excellent career haul is second only to Messi, who has won the award seven times and counting.

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