Football Features

What happened next? Every Golden Ball winner from the Club World Cup

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:30, 12 February 2022

The Club World Cup has seen some excellent performances from world-class players.

Since its founding we’ve seen the likes of Leo Messi, Sergio Ramos, Xavi and Robert Lewandowski all thrive at the tournament. But were those players awarded the Golden Ball? Not necessarily!

The Golden Ball award for the best player at the Club World Cup has seen some great winners, and who can forget the gigantic key award? Thiago Silva is the incumbent recipient after helping Chelsea win their first prize. But who are the past winners? And what happened after they won the golden ball? We’ve had a look to find out:


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2000 Golden Ball: Edilson

Position: Striker

Club: Corinthians

What Happened Next? After helping Corinthians cap a dominant era with the Club World Cup, Edilson joined Flamengo and also played a small part in Brazil’s World Cup win in 2002. He then proceeded to have a long journeyman career taking him across multiple continents before retiring in 2010.

2000 Silver Ball – Edmundo: Despite missing the crucial penalty, Edmundo still walked away with the Silver Ball. He then continued to roam various clubs scattered across Brazil and Japan, returning to his beloved Vasco to retire in 2008.

2000 Bronze Ball – Romario: Romario played for a handful of clubs, consistently scoring goals all the time. He briefly managed Vasco in 2008 before turning his hand to politics, and has been a Rio de Janeiro state senator since 2015.

2005 Golden Ball: Rogerio Ceni

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Sao Paulo

What Happened Next? Rogerio Ceni distinguished himself with a superb performance as Sao Paulo frustrated and defeated Liverpool in Japan. The Brazilian never left his beloved Sao Paulo, and although he never reached the heights of 2005 again he did win the Brasileirao in 2008. The legend retired in 2015 having played 1197 games and, quite incredibly given he’s a goalkeeper, scored 129 goals!

2005 Silver Ball – Steven Gerrard: Like Rogerio Ceni, Gerrard could never top the high of 2005 even with the 2006 FA Cup. Slips both figurative and literal in 2009 and 2014 denied him a Premier League title. He managed Rangers to their first title in 2021 and is currently leading Aston Villa back up the Premier League table.

2005 Bronze Ball – Christian Bolanos: After starring with boyhood club Saprissa the Costa Rica-born winger Christian Bolanos would remain at home before embarking on a Scandinavian journey before turning out for several clubs from Al Gharafa in Qatar to Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada before enjoying further spells at Saprissa where he’s currently plying his trade.

2006 Golden Ball: Deco

Position: Midfielder

Club: Barcelona

What Happened Next? Although Barcelona inexplicably lost the Club World Cup to Internacional, Deco’s golden ball was a small consolation. The Portuguese continued to play well for the Blaugrana until Pep Guardiola forced him out in 2008 to begin his revolution. Deco was a walking title magnet, though, and picked up trophies with Chelsea and Fluminense before retiring in 2013.

2006 Silver Ball – Iarley: After departing Internacional in 2008 where he’d been for several years Iarley would eventually join Corinthians before ultimately hanging up his boots in 2014 after a brief tenure at Ferroviário.

2006 Bronze Ball – Ronaldinho: 2006 was the start of Ronaldinho’s decline, but he made it fun anyway. Tricks in Milan, Titles back home in Brazil, Jail in Paraguay. Now he’s one of football’s icons, making people smile wherever he goes.

2007 Golden Ball: Kaka

Position: Attacking midfielder

Club: AC Milan

What Happened Next? The Milan man looked on top of the world in 2007, and won the Ballon d’Or shortly after. An ill-fated injury-hit move to Real Madrid cratered his career, however. A return to Milan was underwhelming, but he ended his career on a relative high playing with Orlando City in the MLS. Nowadays he’s a social media favourite.

2007 Silver Ball – Clarence Seedorf: Mr. Charm left Milan in 2012 for two years with Botafogo before retiring in 2014. He did well in a brief spell managing Milan, but was never given another shot at managing a club of decent size.

2007 Bronze Ball – Rodrigo Palacio: Palacio’s time with Boca led to a move to Italy where he played for various clubs, notably Inter, and still plays to this day with Brescia in Serie B despite being 40.

2008 Golden Ball: Wayne Rooney

Position: Forward

Club: Manchester United

What Happened Next? Wayne Rooney’s game-winning goal saw him pick up the giant key in 2008. He kept on playing at United, winning title after title and leaving as the club’s all-time top scorer. Decline set in fairly briskly, however, and his one year back with Everton was underwhelming and while he pulled off some truly Roy of the Rovers heroics in the USA with DC United, a return to England with Derby swiftly confirmed his true level. He moved upstairs and is currently managing Derby where, despite deeply trying circumstances.

2008 Silver Ball – Cristiano Ronaldo

2008 Bronze Ball – Damian Manso

2009 Golden Ball: Lionel Messi

Position: Forward

Club: Barcelona

What Happened Next? Messi went on to become the greatest player in the world, perhaps the greatest player ever. He won four Champions Leagues, 10 La Ligas, he’s got an inexplicable seven Ballons d’Or. He became more than a footballer, he became Barcelona, carrying the club through thick and thin. And then in 2021 he had to leave his beloved Blaugrana because of the club’s financial mismanagement. Now he plays for PSG.

2009 Silver Ball – Juan Sebastian Veron: The elegant playmaker was at the end of his illustrious career in 2009 when his side pushed Barcelona all the way. He played for five more years before retiring in 2014.

2009 Bronze Ball – Xavi

2010 Golden Ball: Samuel Eto’o

Position: Striker

Club: Inter Milan

What Happened Next? The only man in football history to win consecutive Trebles, and he did it with different clubs! Eto’o rightfully took the golden ball in 2010 before an ill-fated spell in Russia and middling showings in the Premier League with Chelsea and Everton. Eto’o had better success in Turkey and Qatar before retiring in 2019. He recently ran for president of the Cameroon Football Federation and won, presiding over all the major games at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

2010 Silver Ball – Dioko Kaluyituka

2010 Bronze Ball – Andrés D’Alessandro: The Argentine playmaker is inexplicably still playing for Internacional, a club he’s represented over 500 times.

2011 Golden Ball: Lionel Messi

Position: Forward

Club: Barcelona

What Happened Next? Messi became Argentina captain and, leading from the front, he made three straight finals with his nation. Although thanks to bad luck and poor finishing, he lost them all. He briefly retired in 2016 but came back soon enough and eventually got over the line with Argentina, winning the Copa America in 2021.

2011 Silver Ball – Xavi: The greatest central midfielder of all-time orchestrated Barcelona’s dismantling of Santos in the 2011 final. He went on to dismantle opponents for four more years, winning everything there is to win at least once again (bar the World Cup). He left Barcelona in 2015 after his second Treble and moved to Qatar. After some success there, he became a manager. He’s since come back to Barcelona as the first-team coach and although his reign is young, he is assuredly improving a Messi-less Barcelona and hoping to lift them back amongst the world’s elite.

2011 Bronze Ball – Neymar: He was just a boy in 2011 and two years after being so bewitched by the Blaugrana, he joined them. Neymar thrived in Catalunya, coming closer than anyone to catching Leo Messi. He left for PSG in 2017, trying to be his own man. And the results have been mixed, to say the least. He remains as talented as ever, but is perhaps just as frustrating as he was back in 2011.


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2012 Golden Ball: Cassio

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Corinthians

What Happened Next? A major reason why Corinthians managed to beat Chelsea was their new goalkeeper Cassio. The Brazilian was immense, adding the Club World Cup to the Libertadores. He is still at the club now, and has won more titles along the way as well as being part of Brazil’s 2019 Copa America winning squad.

2012 Silver Ball – David Luiz: The curly-haired Brazilian flanked a largely middling spell at PSG with two better spells at Chelsea and a frankly disastrous period for Arsenal. He’s currently playing for Flamengo.

2012 Bronze Ball – Paolo Guerrero: Guerrero’s title-clinching goal gave him legendary status at Corinthians. He played for Flamengo and Internacional before retiring in 2021.

2013 Golden Ball: Franck Ribery

Position: Winger

Club: Bayern Munich

What Happened Next? Bayern’s wing wizard stayed at the club well beyond his sell-by date before finally moving on in 2019. He joined Fiorentina and had a bright couple of years in Serie A even though his decline was clear. He joined Salernitana in the summer and is still there now.

2013 Silver Ball – Philipp Lahm: Lahm, of course, never left Bayern Munich and thrived for them for years and years, showing his tactical intelligence by playing defensive midfield under Pep Guardiola. He also led Germany to win the World Cup in 2014.

2013 Bronze Ball – Mouhcine Iajour

2014 Golden Ball: Sergio Ramos

Position: Defender

Club: Real Madrid

What Happened Next? Sergio Ramos went on to accomplish wonders but he never managed to top 2014 when he scored and won in both the Champions League and Club World Cup semi-finals and final. Still, he came damn close! In 2016 he scored in another Champions League final and won it, his first as captain. He then repeated this trick twice more, picking up a three-peat. 2017 was notable as he led Los Blancos to their first European Double since 1958. He left Real Madrid over money in 2021, joining PSG, which is a bit underwhelming for a player made of such instantly iconic warrior material.

2014 Silver Ball – Cristiano Ronaldo

2014 Bronze Ball – Ivan Vicelich

2015 Golden Ball: Luis Suárez

Position: Striker

Club: Barcelona

What Happened Next? Suárez peaked in 2015/16, playing superhuman football at the head of that unreal Barcelona team. After that a clear but steady decline set-in, although he continued to score goals so regularly that he could never be dropped. He did eventually leave, with Barcelona short-sightedly letting him join Atlético Madrid whom he promptly helped win La Liga.

2015 Silver Ball – Lionel Messi

2015 Bronze Ball – Andrés Iniesta: One of the most elegant footballers ever. Iniesta’s career was slowing down by 2015 but he was still phenomenal. He helped Barcelona win a couple more league titles and four straight Copas del Rey before joining Vissel Kobe in 2018, where he remains to this day.

2016 Golden Ball: Cristiano Ronaldo

Position: Forward

Club: Real Madrid

What Happened Next? 450 goals in 438 games at Real Madrid. 101 goals in 134 games at Juventus. 115 goals in 184 caps for Portugal (a record for men’s international football). Five Champions Leagues. Euro 2016. The numbers are, quite frankly, preposterous. Even if you just start counting from the end of this particular Club World Cup triumph, Cristiano Ronaldo has 232 in 277 games. Some players don’t score 232 goals their entire career and this guy has done it since he was 31. A ridiculous, peerless goalscoring genius.

2016 Silver Ball – Luka Modric

2016 Bronze Ball – Gaku Shibasaki: Shoutout Shibasaki, whose brace in the final took mighty Real Madrid to extra-time. He’s even played in Madrid since then (for Getafe) but never come close to reaching that high.

2017 Golden Ball: Luka Modric

Position: Midfielder

Club: Real Madrid

What Happened Next? One of the world’s most elegant footballer’s went from strength to strength after winning the Golden Ball at this Club World Cup. The midfielder masterminded Madrid’s threepeat in the Champions League and was then Croatia’s talismanic titan as they made it all the way to the World Cup final. For this, he won the Ballon d’Or and, after a brief period of poor performances, is now playing near his best level despite being 35-years-old.

2017 Silver Ball – Cristiano Ronaldo

2017 Bronze Ball – Jonathan Urretaviscaya

2018 Golden Ball: Gareth Bale

Position: Forward

Club: Real Madrid

What Happened Next? Bale’s hat-trick in the semi-final was enough to win the Golden Ball in 2018, but he just couldn’t establish himself at the Santiago Bernabeu. No matter how hard he tried he remained an outsider and an outcast, a reasonable loan to Spurs that he admitted was just to get him fit for Euro 2020 made Bale’s priorities clear. His contract expires this summer and what’s incredible is that no one seems that interested in signing him. It’s a sad end in Spain for a player who has been instrumental in so much success at the Santiago Bernabeu.

2018 Silver Ball – Caio

2018 Bronze Ball – Rafael Santos Borré

2019 Golden Ball: Mohamed Salah

Position: Forward

Club: Liverpool

What Happened Next? Bobby Firmino was the goalscoring hero for Liverpool at the Club World Cup, but Salah walked away with the Golden Ball. Since then Salah helped win Liverpool the Premier League for the first time in 30 years, and this season he’s gone supernova and is arguably the best player in the world as he fights for a new contract at Anfield.

2019 Silver Ball – Bruno Henrique

2019 Bronze Ball – Carlos Eduardo

2020 Golden Ball: Robert Lewandowski

Position: Striker

Club: Bayern Munich

What Happened Next? Goals. Lots of goals. Lewandowski was denied the 2020 Ballon d’Or as France Football cancelled the award (for some reason) but that hasn’t stopped him rattling in goal after goal after goal. He’s won the Bundesliga again, probably will a second time, and even been voted The Best men’s player for 2021.

2020 Silver Ball – André Pierre Gignac

2020 Bronze Ball – Joshua Kimmich: Kimmich has gone from being a supreme right-back to a supreme central midfielder. And now having gotten over some health issues, he’s getting back into the groove.

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