1. Paolo Rossi
As the Football World Cups became more popular, FIFA decided to awards based on the individual performances. In 1982, the first Golden Ball was awarded and the winner was regarded as the best performer of the World Cups. Paolo Rossi was the first player to win the Golden Ball Award. In the World Cup he had to prove lot more to his fans and team. He was part of a betting scandal and denied his involvement in it. To omit all these dispute, Rossi had to do something special in the World Cups. Although had a poor start in the group stage, coach Enzo Bearzot saw his hidden potential and allowed him to play the knockout stages. In the semi finals, Italy thrashed tournament favorites Brazil with the courtesy of Rossi's hat-trick. In the final Italy had to face well built Germany. But Rossi initiated the goal scoring at the 57th minutes followed by 2 more goals from Tardelli and Altobelli resulted a 3-1 dominance over the German side. Rossi was awarded with the golden ball for his excellent performance in the tournament.
2. Diego Maradona
Football legend, Diego Maradona was the winner of 1986 Golden Ball Award. He was simply brilliant for the Argentinian side and won the well deserved golden ball. There was 5 net shakes from his boots including the controversial "Hand of God" against England. In the semi finals, Argentina faced Belgium and Maradona's 2 goal performance led the team to finals. In the final against Germany, Maradona once again led the team from the front resulting the tournament and golden ball for the player.
3. Salvatore Schillaci
Salvatore Schillaci reserved something special for the 1990 World Cup, which was hosted by Italy. He was an average forward player for the Italian side till the beginning of the tournament. He just had 1 goal in his stat cart. But the World Cup increased his status by scoring 6 goals in his 6 matches. His form helped the Italian team to reach the semi finals. But the fate was against the hosts and lost to Germany in penalty shootouts. But considering the single hand performance Salvatore Schillaci was awarded with the well deserved Golden Ball.
Romario's 5 goals was decisive for the Brazilian side in winning the 1994 World Cup. With a great start in the group stage Brazil was in full confidence with Romario in the team with star studded players. In the knock out stage he once again led the team from the front and defeated Netherlands in a nail biting clash. They faced unpredicted Sweden in the semi's and later faced Italy. The match was a great treat for the football lovers with a draw in the extra time. Romario was the key player for the side. When Marcio Santos missed his first opportunity, Romario came front to reduce the pressure on upcoming strikers. His goal added boost to Branco and Dunga, resulting a 3-2 penalty win over the Italy.
If it was the opportunity of Romario in the 1994 edition, Ronaldo dominated in the 1998 World Cup. But the fate was against him in winning the top reward as he was ill before the match. There he struck 4 goals in the year for the Brazilian side and had crucial role in leading the team to the finals. His mix of power, pace and finishing's was fatal for the defenders. Zinadine Zidane former French striker shared his experience after winning the 1998 World Cup. "I saw Lilian Thuram, Laurent Blanc and Aime Jacquet discussing about limiting Ronaldo's attacks".
6. Oliver Kahn
This time it was the opportunity of a German goal keeper to win the title. His deadly saves was crucial in leading the side to the finals. But rescuing the team from Ronaldo's attacks was out of his potential. Poor defense had a negative impact on Germany's title win. Oliver Khan is considered as one of the greatest goal keeper in the football world and the World Cup performance was crucial in the choice.
7. Zinedine Zidane
One of the dramatic finals was held in the 2006 Germany World Cup. In the match between Italy and France, Zinadine Zidane was dispersed for headbutt on Marco Materazzi, which caused a World Cup loss for the France side. Zidane was the most important player for the France side and had an unique role in leading the team to the finals. Although scored 3 goals in the tournament, his skills in handling the ball, dribbles, passes was crucial in the success of the French team.
8. Diego Forlan
The Uruguayan striker scored 5 goals in the South African World Cup and was one of the stylish players of the World Cup. He began his World Cup journey scoring 2 goals against South Africa. Scoring one goal in the 55th minute of the quarter finals against Ghana was crucial in favoring the match to Uruguay. But his one goal was not enough to beat Netherlands in the semi finals. Despite tough competitions from David Villa and Wesley Sneijder, Forlan was awarded with the reward.
9. Lionel Messi
Messi scored 4 goals in the 2014 edition World Cup. One of the greatest players of the century, Messi was unable to win the World Cup, but his performances were exceptional throughout the tournament. Quick moves, dribbles dominated over the opponents and led the team to finals. But Gotze broke Messi's heart by scoring goal in the extra allotted time. The award winning ceremony witnessed some emotional gestures from Messi.