Lionel Messi Ballon d’Or King: Which Player has won award the most

Lionel Messi Ballon d’Or King: Which Player has won award the most
Credit: Icon Sport

The ultimate individual prize in football, the Ballon d'Or, is a dream of every aspiring footballer.

For many, one win is enough but for some others like Cristiano Ronaldo, multiple wins are where it is at. However, due to the competition in the sport, many great players like Gianluigi Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jay Jay Okocha end up without an award.

Others like African football legend, President George Weah, as well as Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane end up with only one award after an illustrious playing career.

The sections below list all the Ballon d'Or winners from history to date.

History of the Ballon d'Or

Before we list the Ballon d'Or winners by the number of awards they have won, it is important we learn how the most prestigious individual football prize came to be.

What is the Ballon d'Or?

The Ballon d'Or is an annual football award introduced by France Football in 1956. However, between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was reached with FIFA and the award was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year. It was called the FIFA Ballon d'Or in that time period.

The merger ended in 2016 and the award was returned to France football who kept their trademark Ballon d'Or name. FIFA rebranded its FIFA World Player of the Year award to “The Best FIFA Football Awards”.

The idea of the Ballon d'Or award honours was conceived by France Football writer Gabriel Hanot. It is given to the male player believed to have performed the best over the preceding year, as voted for by football journalists.

It was originally an award for players from Europe but in 1995 the Ballon d'Or was expanded to incorporate players from any nationality who have been active at European clubs. And then in 2007, it became an international prize with all professional footballers from around the globe being eligible.

Who won the first Ballon d'Or?

The inaugural winner of the Ballon d'Or was Sir Stanley Matthews of Blackpool in the English football league system. Since Sir Stanley Matthews' win, 36 other players have gone on to win it.

African football legend and current president of the West African nation of Liberia, George Weah, became the first non-European to win the award. He remains the only African to have won the award.

Until Weah, the award was known in English football media as the European Footballer of the Year award.

Here are some quick facts about the Ballon d'Or award

  • Ronaldo de Lima from Brazil became the first South American to win the award in 1997.
  • The continent/football confederation with the most Ballon d'Or wins is South America/CONMEBOL
  • Only five players have won the award three times. Only two – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – have won it more than three times.
  • The first man to three-peat the award is Michel Platini of France. He won it for three years in a row in 1983, 1984 and 1985
  • Lev Yashin is the first and only goalkeeper to win the award.
  • Only two defenders have won the award and only Franz Beckenbauer has won it twice.
  • Lothar Matthaus is the only German to have won the Ballon d'Or. Other Germans – like two-time winner Beckenbauer – won the award when the country was still divided into East and West Germany.
  • Alfredo Di Stefano, an Argentine by birth, won his two Ballon d'Ors as a Spanish citizen. However, he also featured prominently for the Argentina national football team as well during his career.

Ballon d'Or winners list by number of times won

Player Name Nationality Number of times won Years won
Lionel Messi Argentina 7 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 5 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Michel Platini France 3 1983, 1984, 1985
Johan Cruijff Netherlands 3 1971, 1973, 1974
Marco Van Basten Netherlands 3 1988, 1989, 1992
Franz Beckenbauer West Germany 2 1972, 1976
Ronaldo Brazil 2 1997, 2002
Alfredo Di Stefano Spain 2 1957, 1959
Kevin Keegan England 2 1978, 1979
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany 2 1980, 1981
Luis Suarez Spain 1 1960
Eusebio Portugal 1 1965
Sir Bobby Charlton England 1 1966
Raymond Kopa France 1 1958
Gerd Müller West Germany 1 1970
Zinedine Zidane France 1 1998
Gianni Rivera Italy 1 1969
Lothar Matthaus Germany 1 1990
Ruud Gullit Netherlands 1 1987
Roberto Baggio Italy 1 1993
Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria 1 1994
Andriy Shevchenko Ukraine 1 2004
George Best Northern Ireland 1 1968
Allan Simonsen Denmark 1 1977
Ronaldinho Brazil 1 2005
Florian Albert Hungary 1 1967
Jean-Pierre Papin France 1 1991
George Weah Liberia 1 1995
Matthias Sammer Germany 1 1996
Rivaldo Brazil 1 1999
Luis Figo Portugal 1 2000
Michael Owen England 1 2001
Pavel Nedved Czech Republic 1 2003
Fabio Cannavaro Italy 1 2006
Kaka Brazil 1 2007
Karim Benzema France 1 2022
Luka Modric Croatia 1 2018
Sir Stanley Matthews England 1 1956
Omar Sivori Italy 1 1961
Josef Masopust Czechoslovakia 1 1962
Lev Yashin Soviet Union 1 1963
Dennis Law Scotland 1 1964
Oleg Blokhin Soviet Union 1 1975
Paolo Rossi Italy 1 1982
Igor Belanov Soviet Union 1 1986

SEE ALSO |  All Ballon D’Or Winners From The Last Two Decades Ranked

This article was most recently revised and updated 9 months ago