Over the years, the Ballon d’Or winners list has seen football’s absolute best getting this award with achievements quite unparalleled. The player with the most Ballon d’Or awards is Lionel Messi after he clinched the individual trophy seventh time in November 2021.
Ballon d’Or, or the Golden Ball, is presented by the French magazine France Football on a yearly basis. Starting in 1956, the Ballon d’Or award remained exclusively for European footballers until 1995 and was also popularly known as the European Footballer of the Year award. AC Milan star George Weah was the first non-European player to win it. The award has since been open to every footballer of all origin playing in a European club.
The idea of the Ballon d’Or award, where the best male footballer of the previous year was awarded as a recognition for his efforts, was conceived by a former French footballer and later a journalist Gabriel Hanot. Hanot was also responsible for the foundation of the Ligue 1 championship and UEFA Champions League, previously known as the European Cup, alongwith his colleague Jacques Ferran.
The method of awarding individual performances has undergone numerous changes over the years. From 2010 to 2015, the Ballon d’Or had merged with the world football body’s FIFA World Player of the Year award to form FIFA Ballon d’Or. But, the idea didn’t last long as they continued with their own separate annual award from 2016.
The Ballon d’Or winner is selected by a voting system where football journalists and national team captains and coaches cast their opinion. Below is the list of every Ballon d’Or winner ever.
Ballon d’Or Winners full list: From every year
|2021||Lionel Messi||Argentina||Paris Saint-Germain F.C.|
|2018||Luka Modric||Croatia||Real Madrid|
|2017||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Real Madrid|
|2016||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Real Madrid|
|2014||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Real Madrid|
|2013||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Real Madrid|
|2008||Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Manchester United|
|2006||Fabio Cannavaro||Italy||Real Madrid|
|2003||Pavel Nedvěd||Czech Republic||Juventus|
|2000||Luís Figo||Portugal||Real Madrid|
|1996||Matthias Sammer||Germany||Borussia Dortmund|
|1992||Marco van Basten||Netherlands||Milan|
|1989||Marco van Basten||Netherlands||Milan|
|1988||Marco van Basten||Netherlands||Milan|
|1986||Igor Belanov||Soviet Union||Dynamo Kyiv|
|1981||Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||West Germany||Bayern Munich|
|1980||Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||West Germany||Bayern Munich|
|1977||Allan Simonsen||Denmark||Borussia M”nchengladbach|
|1976||Franz Beckenbauer||West Germany||Bayern Munich|
|1975||Oleg Blokhin||Soviet Union||Dynamo Kyiv|
|1972||Franz Beckenbauer||West Germany||Bayern Munich|
|1970||Gerd Müller||West Germany||Bayern Munich|
|1968||George Best||Northern Ireland||Manchester United|
|1967||Flórián Albert||Hungary||Ferencv rosi TC|
|1966||Bobby Charlton||England||Manchester United|
|1964||Denis Law||Scotland||Manchester United|
|1963||Lev Yashin||Soviet Union||Dynamo Moscow|
|1962||Josef Masopust||Czechoslovakia||Dukla Prague|
|1959||Alfredo Di Stéfano||Spain||Real Madrid|
|1958||Raymond Kopa||France||Real Madrid|
|1957||Alfredo Di Stéfano||Spain||Real Madrid|
First Ballon d’Or winner: Stanley Matthews
English football club Blackpool star Stanley Matthews had won the Ballon d’Or in its inaugural year. It was astonishing how a player in his late 30s edged past the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano of Real Madrid to win the award. But, Matthews’ exceptional individual performance against Bolton Wanderers in the 1953 FA Cup final, in which Blackpool won 4-3 through a very late winning goal, had changed perceptions. Not only is it regarded as the best FA Cup final to date but it also came to be known as the “Matthews Final”.
First African and Non-European Ballon d’Or winner: George Weah
The only African football player ever to win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah is often compared to Marco Van Basten and Ronaldo Nazario Lima for his athleticism and goal-scoring abilities. He was the first Non-European player to win this individual award after his exceptional stints with both Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan in 1995.
First South American Ballon d’Or winner: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
The first South-American footballer who was also the youngest player ever to win the Ballon d’Or award, Brazil’s Ronaldo Nazario Lima had won the award as a 21-year-old in 1997 while playing for Serie A side Inter Milan. He would then go on to win the award again in 2002, this time while playing for La Liga side Real Madrid. Apart from having a brilliant club career with giants like AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Ronaldo has also helped Brazil to become two-time FIFA World Cup winners.
Ballon d’Or winners: By number of awards
|Lionel Messi||7 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021)|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)|
|Johan Cruyff||3 (1971, 1973, 1974)|
|Michel Platini||3 (1983, 1984, 1985)|
|Marco van Basten||3 (1988, 1989, 1992)|
|Alfredo Di Stéfano||2 (1957, 1959)|
|Franz Beckenbauer||2 (1972, 1976)|
|Kevin Keegan||2 (1978, 1979)|
|Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||2 (1980, 1981)|
|Ronaldo||2 (1997, 2002)|
Lionel Messi: Most times Ballon d’Or award winner
Football in the 21st century has been synonymous with the Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry for over a decade now and the Ballon d’Or winners list reflects it impeccably. The former FC Barcelona star has won the individual award in years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021 so far, creating a record that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon. The left-footed magician also leads the list of players with the most assists in football and most goals in a season.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Five-time Ballon d’Or award winner
The list for Ballon d’Or winners in the last 10 years would have featured only one name had it not been for Real Marid and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese international leads list of players with the most goals in football history and most international goals in football. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or award in the years 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
No football player has won the Ballon d’Or as many times as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Following them, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, and Marco van Basten have won the Ballon d’Or three times, while Alfredo Di Stéfano, Franz Beckenbauer, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Ronaldo have won it twice.
Women’s Ballon d’Or winners full list
|2019||Megan Rapinoe||USA||Reign FC|
|2018||Ada Hegerberg||Norway||Olympique Lyonnais|
Who is the Ballon d’Or 2020 winner?
Due to the Covid-19 situation worldwide, there was no Ballon d’Or award ceremony held in 2020. Though, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski was widely believed to have deserved the prestigious award after his brilliant Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League campaign.
Who is the Ballon d’Or 2021 winner?
Lionel Messi was the Ballon d’Or 2021 winner after he was voted the best player with 613 points. He was followed by nominations of Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho in the second and third places.
How many Portugal Ballon d’Or winners are there?
There have been three Portugal Ballon d’Or winners so far, who have won seven awards together. While Cristiano Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Ors, Luis Figo and Eusebio have one each.
Who are the Manchester United Ballon d’Or winners?
There have been four Manchester United Ballon d’Or winners in history, all of whom have won the award once each. They are Denis Law (1964), Bobby Charlton (1966), George Best (1968) and Cristiano Ronaldo.