The 41st Ballon d'Or winner

The forty-first Ballon d'Or winner - Mathias Measure

After a long break, a German was again chosen as the best player in 1996

German football in the first half of the 1990s did not enjoy particular successes and distinguished players. After the strong periods of Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rumenite, only Lothar Matthaus in the 1990s managed to win the Ballon d'Or. In 1996, however, one player reminded the world that defenders are also extremely important to the performance of their teams and deserve the best player award. Borussia Dortmund's Matthias Sammer has managed to win a highly contested battle with Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven Brazilian forward Ronaldo.

Zamer collected 144 points from 35 journalists who placed him in the top five. Out of a total of 51 voters, 39 give Ronaldo a place in the top five, but he remains one point short of Zammer. The Borussia Dortmund defender receives 13 first places, 15 second places, 6 third places and one fifth place, while the Barcelona and PSV forward has 16 first places, 9 second places, 4 third places, 5 fourth places and 5 fifth places. In the end, the second and third positions prevail in this incredible battle for the Golden Ball, the likes of which has not been seen in a long time.

Third in the standings remains the English striker of Newcastle, Alan Shearer, who collects 107 points. The five are completed by Alessandro Del Piero from Juventus and Jurgen Klinsmann from Bayern Munich. The previous year's winner, George Weah, did not earn a single point. Bulgaria is again represented in the ranking, although the results of the "lions" at Euro 1996 did not exceed expectations. Defender Trifon Ivanov gets three points for his three fifth places. He is 22nd along with Paolo Maldini, Christian Ziege and Patrick Berger.

In the extremely interesting battle for first place, Zammer comes out one breast ahead of Ronaldo because of the European Championship in England, where the Germans triumphed after extra time against the Czech Republic. Sammer led his team to a 2-1 quarter-final win over Croatia, also scored against Russia in a 3-0 win and was part of the best defense in the tournament, conceding just three goals in the three group stage games. With Borussia Dortmund, Sammer won the Bundesliga title in the 1995/96 season and was once again part of an outstanding defense that conceded just 38 goals in 34 appearances in the German championship. The team also reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but was eliminated by defending champions Ajax.

At the start of the following campaign, Dortmund won another trophy, defeating Kaiserslautern in the country's Super Cup clash and started the campaign very well, with defensive play at the heart of the Yellow and Black's success. Matthias Sammer is Ottmar Hitzfeld's main man and oversees Borussia's performance like a true genius.

However, Ronaldo has his arguments for the top spot. At just 20 years old, he shined in his second season for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and secured a move to Barcelona. Before that, he won the Dutch Cup with PSV, finished second in the championship and reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup tournament. In LaLiga, a short period of adaptation is needed for him to shine for Barca with goals against Racing Santander, two against Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza, Compostela, Logrones, a hat-trick against Valencia and one against Valladolid. However, the strong end of 1996 proved to be insufficient.

Due to his solid defensive performance, not a few important goals for German champions Borussia Dortmund, as well as Germany's success at Euro 1996, in which he also scored twice, Matthias Sammer managed to overtake Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or in 1996. -a year with only one point.