Lionel Messi Becomes 5th Straight Golden Ball Winner Not to Win World Cup

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Lionel Messi Becomes 5th Straight Golden Ball Winner Not to Win World Cup
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Argentina forward Lionel Messi continued a surprising trend over the weekend, becoming the fifth consecutive winner of the World Cup's Golden Ball who did not come from the tournament-winning side, per ESPN's Paul Carr.

The prize was little consolation for Messi, who played an excellent tournament on the whole but failed to make his mark on Sunday's final. He had to accept the trophy on the pitch at Maracana Stadium, just minutes after watching the German players celebrate their 1-0 extra-time victory.

Looking none too pleased to accept the award, Messi forced a smile for FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who would later question the process that awarded a trophy to the most popular player on the planet, per The Telegraph.

While Messi's selection was not so egregious as some might make it out to be, there was no shortage of other candidates.

Colombia's James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot, scoring six goals in just five games as El Cafeteros reached the quarter-finals, the country's best-ever finish at a World Cup. If you were to assess impact on a per-game basis, Rodriguez would be a strong choice for the award.

Also warranting consideration was Germany forward Thomas Mueller, who took home the Silver Ball as the tournament's second-best player. Mueller was also awarded the Silver Boot, with his five goals in the tournament bested by only the six of Rodriguez.

The last Golden Ball recipient from the tournament-winning side was Brazilian forward Romario, who scored five goals at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

The award has only been existence since 1978, and four of the first five Golden Balls went to players from the tournament-winning team.

While the trend has now been reversed, FIFA may take a look at the voting process to avoid controversial selections in the future.

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