Ballon d’Or Winners List: From 1956 to Present Day

Ballon d’Or Winners List: From 1956 to Present Day
Credit: Icon Sport

The Ballon d’Or has gone from being a European award to one that recognises greatness in the sport over a period of time.

It is the sport's most prestigious individual prize that many players dream of winning – or at least being nominated for – in their careers.

For the last 15 years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d’Or winners list. Only two players have been able to usurp both players to the annual award in those 15 years.

Fans want to know which other players besides Messi and Ronaldo have won the prestigious award in its 68-year history.

Brief history of the Ballon d'Or

Ballon d'Or literally translates to ‘Golden Ball' and it is given to the player who is considered the best performer at the completion of a European football season.

Individual awards were few and exclusive to federations and confederations before the conception of the Ballon d'Or in 1954/55. In 1956, the first edition was held, with England Three Lions legend Sir Stanley Matthews winning the award while playing for Blackpool.

At the time, the Ballon d'Or was a solely European award, given to European players who played for European clubs.

European players who played outside Europe were not considered, and neither were players from other continents who played in or outside Europe. By 1995, they opened it to every player who plays for a European club, regardless of nationality.

President George Weah of Liberia was the first non-European winner of the award. His award is considered special because he won the award in the year that the awards were opened up to accommodate every player playing their trade at a European club.

It is extra special because he is the first and only African to climb that podium and take home the award.

The closest African has been Sadio Mané, who came second in the 2022 edition won by Karim Benzema. By 2007, it was expanded to become a worldwide prize.

Lionel Messi, who is the record winner of the award, is the first player playing outside Europe to win the award based on a technicality (the Argentina international football team captain played in Europe in the period considered for the 2023 award).

France Football also introduced another variation of the award called the Super Ballon d’Or, given to a player who has stood out and has finished on the Ballon d’Or winning podium for a number of years.

Super Ballon d’Or: Can you guess the only previous winner?

Ballon d'Or winners list from inception to date

It has been 68 years since the first award. There have been 45 winners of the award, with 10 players having won it multiple times.

Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won it at least five times. Messi is the player with the most awards, winning eight in 19 years as a senior professional.

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Credit: Icon Sport

Below is a list of all players who have won the award. This is also the first time in nearly two decades that Cristiano Ronaldo has not been nominated for the prestigious award.

Year Player Nationality Club
2023 Lionel Messi Argentina Inter Miami
2022 Karim Benzema France Real Madrid
2021 Lionel Messi Argentina Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
2020 not awarded
2019 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2018 Luka Modric Croatia Real Madrid
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2015 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2014 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2013 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2012 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2011 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2010 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2009 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Manchester United
2007 Kaká Brazil Milan
2006 Fabio Cannavaro Italy Real Madrid
2005 Ronaldinho Brazil Barcelona
2004 Andriy Shevchenko Ukrain Milan
2003 Pavel Nedvěd Czechia Juventus
2002 Ronaldo Brazil Real Madrid
2001 Michael Owen England Liverpool
2000 Luís Figo Portugal Real Madrid
1999 Rivaldo Brazil Barcelona
1998 Zinedine Zidane France Juventus
1997 Ronaldo Brazil Internazionale
1996 Matthias Sammer Germany Borussia Dortmund
1995 George Weah Liberia Milan
1994 Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria Barcelona
1993 Roberto Baggio Italy Juventus
1992 Marco van Basten Netherlands Milan
1991 Jean-Pierre Papin France Marseille
1990 Lothar Matthäus Germany Internazionale
1989 Marco van Basten Netherlands Milan
1988 Marco van Basten Netherlands Milan
1987 Ruud Gullit Netherlands Milan
1986 Igor Belanov Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv
1985 Michel Platini France Juventus
1984 Michel Platini France Juventus
1983 Michel Platini France Juventus
1982 Paolo Rossi Italy Juventus
1981 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany Bayern Munich
1980 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany Bayern Munich
1979 Kevin Keegan England Hamburg
1978 Kevin Keegan England Hamburg
1977 Allan Simonsen Denmark Borussia M”nchengladbach
1976 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany Bayern Munich
1975 Oleg Blokhin Soviet Union Dynamo Kyiv
1974 Johan Cruyff Netherlands Barcelona
1973 Johan Cruyff Netherlands Barcelona
1972 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany Bayern Munich
1971 Johan Cruyff Netherlands Ajax
1970 Gerd Müller West Germany Bayern Munich
1969 Gianni Rivera Italy Milan
1968 George Best Northern Ireland Manchester United
1967 Flórián Albert Hungary Ferencv rosi TC
1966 Bobby Charlton England Manchester United
1965 Eusébio Portugal Benfica
1964 Denis Law Scotland Manchester United
1963 Lev Yashin Soviet Union Dynamo Moscow
1962 Josef Masopust Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague

This article was most recently revised and updated 5 months ago