Best World Cup players

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A review of the Golden Ball winners at previous World Cup tournaments

Following each World Cup tournament, the Golden Ball award is handed to the best player of the competition. Here is a gallery of the previous winners. See Gallery

The Golden Ball award is given to the best player of the tournament of each World Cup just before the final match and is chosen by media representatives and the FIFA technical board.

We take a look at all the winners of the award since it inauguration in 1982.

More World Cup features:

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1982: Paolo Rossi

Italian striker Paolo Rossi returned to football after a two-year suspension just in time for the 1982 World Cup. He scored his first three goals in the game against Brazil just as people were beginning to write Italy's chances off. The Italian side later went on to lift the trophy in Spain and Rossi won the Golden Ball and the Golden shoe (for highest goal scorer).

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1986: Diego Maradona

Argentina captain Diego Maradona inspired his team throughout the 1986 World Cup and he played a big part in his nation's victory against West Germany in the final.

He also scored twice in both their quarter-final and semi-final matches.

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1990: Salvatore Schillaci

Salvatore Schillaci played in each of Italy's seven matches at the 1990 World Cup on home soil, scoring key goals in six of them and helping Italy reach the semi-finals. Despite his 1990 World Cup form winning him the Golden Ball award, the Golden Shoe and a place in World Cup history, Schillaci never played in a World Cup again.

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1994: Romário

Romário de Souza Faria - better known as just Romário - wore the number 11 shirt in each of Brazil's 1994 World Cup games in the US. It was only thanks to Romário's 80th minute goal that Brazil brushed past Sweden in the semi-finals, before the Brazilian forward went on to net an important penalty in the shoot-out that secured Brazil's World Cup victory over Italy in the final.

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1998: Ronaldo

Ronaldo's World Cup form, together with four goals, won him the Golden Ball award for best player of the 1998 tournament in France. Ronaldo played in the final of the tournament despite having been left off of the original team sheet, after he suffered a fit the night before the game. Ronaldo was cleared to play but the final wasn't Brazil's finest match as they lost 3-0 to France.

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2002: Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn's outstanding goalkeeping won him the Golden Ball award for the best player of the 2002 World Cup tournament in Korea/Japan, with the Bayern Munich stopper keeping five clean sheets overall. If the award had been chosen after the match, Kahn might not have won it due to a mistake made allowing Ronaldo to score one of Brazil’s two goals.

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2006: Zinedine Zidane

Frenchman Zinedine Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball award for a string of fine performances ahead of the 2006 final against Italy in Berlin. During the closing minutes of the second half of extra time in the final itself, Zidane headbutted Italy's Mario Materazzi in the chest and was sent off, although the award still stood. The attacking midfielder scored five times - two from the penalty spot - which made up his last goals as he announced his retirement from football would follow the closing of the World Cup tournament.

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2010: Diego Forlan

The most recent winner of the Golden Ball award was Uruguay's Diego Forlan, who won the award in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup. Forlan scored five goals as the South Americans secured fourth place in the tournament and he tied with Germany's Thomas Müller for the Golden Shoe award for top goal scorer, though Müller claimed the award because of his three goal assists.