Ten years have passed since Lionel Messi won his second Ballon d’Or. That year, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were also on the podium, but the Argentine winning the award was controversial.
A lot of people thought that it was Iniesta‘s award to lose, not forgetting he was the scorer of the goal that won Spain their first World Cup, and a lot of people remember 2010 as being the year the Ballon d’Or was stolen.
Even France Football themselves ended up apologising to Iniesta, though it took them eight years to do so.
The 2010 edition was the first after the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player awards merged, and journalists were no longer the only ones to vote, meaning that captains and coaches of national teams all had a say as well.
That season, Jose Mourinho’s Inter won the Champions League and the World Cup in South Africa was won by Spain. Historically, the best player of the World champions wins the Ballon d’Or, with the best example of that being Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
On top of the World Cup win, Iniesta had a successful season at Barcelona, winning LaLiga Santander and losing to Inter in the Champions League semi-finals.
The only rival Iniesta could have had was Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman, formerly of Real Madrid, was key to Inter’s treble winning season and to the Netherlands side who came up short in the World Cup final against Spain.
FIFA’s ‘intervention’ in the award ended up seeing Messi proclaimed the world’s best player, despite Diego Maradona‘s Argentina losing 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals.