Messi, 27, scored four goals during group play, but was held scoreless during the knockout round. Maradona claimed that Messi was chosen because of "some marketing plan":
“Messi? I would give him heaven if possible,” the 1986 World Cup winner said on his television show on Telesur. “But it’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan.”
Messi took little consolation from the award as he failed to bring Argentina a World Cup title once again:
“Right now I don’t care about the prize. I don’t care about anything. I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people,” Messi told Spanish newspaper AS.
Other Golden Ball candidates included Colombia's James Rodriguez, who won the Golden Boot by leading the tournament with 6 goals, and Germany's Thomas Müller, who finished with 5 goals.
Maradona led Argentina to victory over West Germany in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final.
MORE SOCCER COVERAGE: Lionel Messi's complex legacy stays in crosshairs for everyone but himself
- Paul Palladino