The forty-fourth winner of the "Golden Ball" - Rivaldo

The forty-fourth Ballon d'Or winner - Rivaldo    

A second Brazilian won the best player award in 1999

The possibility of players from outside Europe winning the Ballon d'Or is more than welcome for the extremely talented players, especially from South America. After Ronaldo's success in 1997, only a losing World Cup final prevented him from winning the award for the second consecutive year and it went to Zinedine Zidane. In 1999, however, Rivaldo won the award after his phenomenal performance with the Barcelona team. The Brazilian attacking midfielder reached the peak of his career during his second season with the Catalans and deservedly picked up football's most significant individual award. We should not overlook his achievements with the national team of Brazil, which is once again setting the tone in South America.

Rivaldo collects 219 points in the ranking after 48 of the 51 journalists who have the right to vote place him in the top five positions. Only three of the representatives of the countries that are members of the European Football Central are of the opinion that the attacking midfielder does not deserve to be in the top five, but 31 first places, 14 second places, two thirds and one fourth are quite enough for Vitor Barbosa Ferreira, as the full his name. He leaves behind David Beckham, who collected 154 points. Even winning the Champions League isn't enough to convince journalists that Becks deserves the accolade and he only takes 14 first, 12 second, eight third, five fourth and two fifth places.

Andrii Shevchenko remains far behind the two, in third position. AC Milan's Ukrainian discovery did not receive a single first-place vote, but showed he can soon reach the trophy if his team-mates are of the necessary quality. The five are completed by Fiorentina's Argentinian striker Gabriel Batistuta and Rivaldo's teammate Luis Figo. There are no Bulgarians nominated for the "Golden Ball" again, and quite a few players remain without a point outside the ranking.

Rivaldo's biggest success in 1999 came with the national team. For the second time in a row, Brazil won the Copa America, and the midfielder was chosen as the best player. Together with Ronaldo Nazario, they became the competition's top scorers with five goals each. However, only one of Rivaldo's goals came in the group stage and that came in the 7-0 rout of Venezuela. This was followed by a goal against Argentina in the quarter-finals, a goal against Mexico in the semi-final, as well as two of the three goals in the final against Uruguay, won 3-0 by the Seleção.

His performance in LaLiga is also very key to winning the Ballon d'Or. With the Barcelona team, Rivaldo triumphed in the competition with 9 points against Real Madrid, and the attacking midfielder is the top scorer for the champions with 24 goals. Raul González, the top scorer in the championship, has only one more goal. For a man who doesn't play at the top of the attack, Rivaldo scores a lot and always important goals. His five goals in the first four games of 1999 were testament to that, as Barca returned to the title race after a disappointing end to 1998. He also scored the third goal in the 3-0 final in El Clasico in the spring and managed to punish Espanyol twice, scored a hat-trick against Real Oviedo, a key goal against Tenerife, defeats against Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao. Rivaldo also scored three times for Valencia in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, but the Blaugranas lost both matches against the Bats. In the spring of 1999, Barcelona did not play in Europe.

However, autumn is a new opportunity and this time the Catalans are not wasting it. Five goals in the Champions League groups from the Brazilian attacker helped the first position in the first group stage with four successes and two draws. In LaLiga, however, things don't start particularly well, or rather they go bad in the October-November period, but still Rivaldo doesn't stop with the goals. He scored again in El Clasico in a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou, scoring twice against Espanyol, once against Valladolid, Santander, Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo La Coruña.

Rivaldo certainly shows that the position of attacking midfielder will start to play a bigger role in football. And his goals and successes in 1999 deservedly made him the winner of the 44th "Golden Ball" of "France Football" magazine.