The Frenchman has hailed the goalkeeper for a fantastic 2014 but still believes the Portuguese was head and shoulders above all his rivals
Zinedine Zidane has acknowledged Manuel Neuer would have been a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or but says Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was the right choice.
Neuer was shortlisted for the prize after helping Bayern Munich win the German double during the 2013-14 season before then playing a key role in Germany’s World Cup success in Brazil.
However, Zidane believes Ronaldo, who also faced competition from Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, simply couldn’t be overlooked.
“I understand that Germans think that Manuel Neuer should have won the Ballon d’Or,” the former Blancos ace told Die Welt . “It was not only in Germany that there was a debate over whether Neuer would have been a better choice, but also France and Spain.
“He would have deserved it, as he is a fantastic player who took goalkeeping to another level with his ability on the ball. But, at the same time, Ronaldo is a player from another planet!
“In truth, it was exasperating having Neuer competing with Ronaldo for the prize!”
Zidane, who is currently coaching Real Madrid Castilla, lifted the Ballon d’Or himself in 1998, after inspiring France to World Cup glory on home soil.