How many Mexican players have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or? Complete list
Throughout the years, Mexico has produced many household names in football, but which players have been in the running for the biggest individual prize in football?
The first Mexican player to feature in the ranking of the world’s best players was goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in 2007. Naturally, the long list was heavily weighed towards Europe, but Club América’s goalkeeper broke the trend, being one of only three players not playing in Europe to be nominated. A stellar season in Mexico saw Ochoa win the CONCACAF Champions Cup and compete in the Club World Cup against Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona, who won 4-0 in the semi-final. Despite this loss, Ochoa had some standout performances during the Liga Apertura in 06-07, in which he kept 7 clean sheets in 17 games. Ochoa finished 30th in the ranking after receiving a solitary vote for the prize.
Defence leading the way for Mexico
In 2010, Mexico would feature again in the list of the greatest players in the world, this time with FC Barcelona defender, Rafael Márquez. Commonly known as the ‘Kaiser’, the centre back won the domestic league and Champions League double with the Spanish club and his commanding performances at the World Cup in South Africa led him to be considered for the award. His nomination came during his last season in Spain and, despite having many offers to stay in Europe and continue to play at the highest level, Márquez chose to move stateside, and try new challenges playing for the New York Red Bulls.
A year later, Javier Hernández flew the flag for Mexico in the list for the Ballon d’Or. His season at Manchester United earned him a place on the preliminary list of 50 candidates; despite not making the 23-man shortlist, Chicharito’s season was one to remember: he participated in many match winning goals both domestically and in Europe, and became the Premier League’s top Mexican goalscorer in the process.
In 2015, MLS talent was rewarded with two nominations, one of them coming from Mexico. LA Galaxy’s Giovani Dos Santos was delighted with the recognition for his performances and was quick to highlight the pride he had for Mexico, telling LA Galaxy he was “very happy to represent my country” and “very proud”. Veteran Andrea Pirlo was the other nomination from MLS but both failed to make the 23-player shortlist.
However, that was not the end of Mexican representation that year, as PSV’s Andrés Guardado also made the cut of the 59 top players in the world. Signed from Valencia, Guardado helped his side to the Eredivisie title and the last-16 of the Champions League, where a penalty shootout loss against Atlético Madrid was the difference between progressing or not.
A surprising omission
There is perhaps one name that surprisingly has not featured so far, that of Hugo Sánchez. Surprisingly, the striker has never been nominated for the top individual award in football, despite being perhaps Mexico’s most famous football player in the history of the country, having some incredible seasons at Real Madrid. Sánchez certainly does not forget his omission, saying in 2016 that “I could have won it at Real Madrid... but was discriminated against.” Alas, a nomination for the man who scored 38 goals for Real Madrid in 89/90 all with his first touch was not to be, but that is definitely not to say that Mexico has not had its fair share of top players over the years.