Picking the Greatest Football Player of Every Year from the Last Decade

Bimersha GautamCorrespondent IIINovember 29, 2012

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Real Madrid CF is tackled by Benat Etxebarria of Real Betis Balompie during the La Liga match between Real Betis Balompie and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Benito Villamarin on November 24, 2012 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Any list that shuns the likes of Marco Reus and Thiago Silva and instead includes the likes of Gerard Pique of all people, not to mention Neymar, should certainly not be the governing body deciding on who gets the nod to be the best player for a particular year. Of course we are talking about the Ballon d’Or shortlist for this year.

Hence, Bleacher Report has compiled the ten best players of the last decade. Since the domestic seasons start in August, it was only fair that players be picked on the basis of seasons and not years. However, the World Cup and the Euros have also been taken into account on deciding the candidate. Thus, the World Cup of 2006 would be counted in the 2005-2006 season and so on.

(Special thanks to Karl Matchett who did a similar list—ranking the greatest soccer player of every decade since 1920s—who provided the inspiration for this list).

2001-2002: Ronaldo

“There is only one Ronaldo— the rest are all Cristianos.”

One of the most complete strikers to have ever graced the game, Ronaldo’s influence upon the footballing world is aptly summarized by the above statement.

Il Fenômeno deservedly takes the crown for his brilliant exploits in the 2002 World Cup. He scored a total of eight goals, including two in the final against Germany.

Second Place: Oliver Kahn

2002-2003: Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, truthfully, had a better 2001-2002 season, in which he won the Champions League for Real Madrid thanks to a superb volley against Bayer Leverkusen.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo’s performance for Inter Milan and Brazil slightly bettered that of Zidane’s.

However, 2002-2003 was equally as good of a season for Zinedine Zidane, as he helped Real Madrid pry the title away from Valencia.

2003-2004: Thierry Henry

Henry, along with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Viera, ensured that Arsenal made footballing history by going through the 2003-04 season undefeated.

He scored 30 goals for Arsenal in that record-breaking season, and won the PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.

Second Place: Andriy Shevchenko

2004-2005: Ronaldinho

At his prime, Ronaldinho was simply unstoppable.

His ball skills dazzled and dumbfounded opponents, and he helped pave the path for Barcelona’s sustained dominance in both domestic and European football.

Second Place: Steven Gerrard

2005-2006: Fabio Cannavaro

It was a toss-up between Fabio Cannavaro and Zinedine Zidane, both of who had exceptional World Cup performances in 2006. The only difference is that the former actually won it, while the latter went out in infamy for his headbutt on Marco Materazzi.

Second Place: Zinedine Zidane

2006-2007: Kaka

Jose Mourinho is simply not giving Kaka enough opportunities to showcase his talents.

Kaka exudes elegance. At AC Milan, he was an unstoppable force. During the Champions League of 2006-07, Kaka finished as top scorer with ten goals as he guided the Rosonerri to their seventh title. He also claimed five assists to his name.

Second Place: Cristiano Ronaldo

2007-2008: Cristiano Ronaldo

With 42 goals in all competitions, including eight in the Champions League, Ronaldo ensured that the 2007-08 season would be a resounding success for Manchester United, who did the double by winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

Second Place: Lionel Messi

2008-2009: Lionel Messi

Despite the loss of Deco, Ronaldinho and their manager, Barcelona managed to win the treble—Copa Del Rey, La Liga and UEFA Champions League—in the 2007-08 season.

Lionel Messi went on to score 38 goals in all competitions, including nine goals in the Champions League.

Second Place: Xavi

2009-2010: Wesley Sneijder

Wesley Sneijder was the instrumental figure behind the successes of both Inter Milan and the Dutch National Team. The former he helped guide to Champions League glory, while he led the latter to the final of the 2010 World Cup.

Second Place: Andres Iniesta

2010-2011: Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi. Who else? 

Second Place: Cristiano Ronaldo 

2011-2012: Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo was peerless in the entire Euro tournament, having contributed an assist or goal in each of the matches in the group stages and giving England a lesson in midfield excellence.

Against England, almost every move was channelled through him, and he gave perhaps one of the grandest individual performances ever witnessed.

He performed similarly in the Serie A, as he guided Juventus through an entire season undefeated. Remarkable indeed.

Second Place: Cristiano Ronaldo

Follow me on Twitter: @BrenGoetze


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