Diego Maradona has said Lionel Messi did not deserve to be named as the best player at the World Cup and dismissed the Fifa award as a "marketing plan".
The 1986 World Cup-winner stopped short of calling the award a fix, but said Messi had only got the prize as part of a marketing ploy.
Messi cut a dejected figure at the end of a World Cup final he had been noticeably quiet in, spurning his one clear-cut opportunity just after the half time break.
However, to the surprise of some observers, the Barcelona star, who scored four goals in seven matches, later trudged up the Maracana stairs to pick up the Fifa Golden Ball award.
A Fifa committee draws up a shortlist of players for media representatives to then vote from. Previous winners include Diego Forlan and Zinedine Zidane who won the trophy at the 2010 and 2006 World Cups repectively. Maradona won it himself in 1986.
Speaking on his own television show, the Argentina icon said: "Messi? I would give him Heaven if possible.
"But it's not right when someone wins something that he shouldn't have won just because of some marketing plan. I could see that he didn't want to go up and collect it [the award]"
Maradona, who participated in four World Cups, told his audience that Columbia's attacking young talent James Rodriguez would have been a worthy winner of the trophy.
Speaking on television programme De Zurda, Maradona added his nation could hold their heads high, despite losing to a Mario Gotze goal against Germany.
"We raised our flag high, there's no doubt about that," he added.
"Germany won due to a misunderstanding in the defence but at no point were they better than us. They showed us a lot of respect, and our lads earned that out on the pitch."