Before we review who has the most Ballon d Or in this article, I will like us to go down memory lane and take a brief but concise look at how the Ballon d’Or came into being.
So now what is the Ballon d Or award? The Ballon d’Or is an annual football award introduced by France Football since 1956, however, between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was reached with FIFA and the award was fused with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and is now called the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Nevertheless, the merger ended in 2016 and the award was reversed to Ballon d’Or, as FIFA likewise reverted to its own separate annual award which is now known as The Best FIFA Football Awards.
The idea of the Ballon d’Or award honours was conceived by sports writer Gabriel Hanot and is given to the male player believed to have performed the best over the preceding year, which is done by voting 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 origin that 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.
The inaugural winner of the Ballon d’Or was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool. But before 1995, the award was often known in English language media as the European Footballer of the Year award.
Now that we have a clear answer as to what is the Ballon d Or award, let’s quickly dive into the matter at hand as regards who has the most Ballon d Or?
George Weah, the only African recipient when he was playing for Milan, became the first non-European to win the award in the year that rules of eligibility were changed. Ronaldo of Internazionale became the first South American winner two years later.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won the award a record five times each. Three players have won the award three times each and they are Johan Cruyff of Ajax and Barcelona, Michel Platini of Juventus and Marco van Basten of Milan.
With seven awards each, Dutch and German players could answer the question of who has the most Ballon d Or. Spanish club Barcelona has the most winners, with 11 wins.
Who has the most Ballon d Or?: Wins by players
Brazil: Ronaldinho — 1 (2005)
Denmark: Allan Simonsen — 1 (1977)
Northern Ireland: George Best — 1 (1968)
Ukraine: Andriy Shevchenko — 1 (2004)
Bulgaria: Hristo Stoichkov — 1 (1994)
Italy: Roberto Baggio — 1 (1993)
Germany: Lothar Matthäus — 1 (1990)
Netherlands: Ruud Gullit — 1 (1987)
Italy: Gianni Rivera — 1 (1969)
France: Zinedine Zidane — 1 (1998)
West Germany: Gerd Müller — 1 (1970)
France: Raymond Kopa — 1 (1958)
England: Bobby Charlton — 1 (1966)
Portugal: Eusébio — 1 (1965)
Spain: Luis Suárez — 1 (1960)
West Germany: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge — 2 (1980, 1981)
England: Kevin Keegan — 2 (1978, 1979)
Spain: Alfredo Di Stéfano — 2 (1957, 1959)
Brazil: Ronaldo — 2 (1997, 2002)
West Germany: Franz Beckenbauer — 2 (1972, 1976)
Netherlands: Marco van Basten — 3 (1988, 1989, 1992)
Netherlands: Johan Cruyff — 3 (1971, 1973, 1974)
France: Michel Platini — 3 (1983, 1984, 1985)
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo — 5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
Argentina: Lionel Messi — 6 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019)