“What players have won the Ballon d'Or?”
“What countries have the most Ballons d'Or?”
“What players have won the most Ballons d'Or?”
Football fans have asked these questions many times into search engines and social media.
This is because it is a thing of pride to know that a player you support has won the most prestigious individual football prize or a team you support has produced players worthy of winning it. The Messi vs Ronaldo debate is hinged on this fact.
Read on to learn who first won the award and see a detailed Ballon d'Or winners lost from its inception to date.
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 an 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, 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. No one playing outside of Europe is yet to win it, however.
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 seven in 19 years as a senior professional.
He is in the running for his eighth award to extend his lead at the top but Erling Haaland of Manchester City will give him a run for his money this time around. 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.
|2022||Karim Benzema||France||Real Madrid|
|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|
|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||Argentina||Real Madrid|
|1958||Raymond Kopa||France||Real Madrid|
|1957||Alfredo Di Stéfano||Argentina||Real Madrid|
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 weeks ago