The Ballon d'Or (French pronunciation: [balɔ̃ dɔʁ]; "Golden Ball") is an annual football award presented by French news magazine France Football that is one of the oldest and generally regarded as the most prestigious individual award for football players. It has been awarded since 1956, although between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was made with FIFA, and the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year (founded in 1991) and known as the FIFA Ballon d'Or. However, the partnership ended in 2016, and the award reverted to the Ballon d'Or, while FIFA also reverted to its own separate annual award The Best FIFA Men's Player. The recipients of the joint FIFA Ballon d'Or are considered as winners by both award organisations.
Ballon d'Or trophy
|Presented by||France Football|
|Current holder|| Lionel Messi|
|Most awards|| Lionel Messi|
|Most nominations|| Lionel Messi|
(12 times each)
Conceived by sports writer Gabriel Hanot, the Ballon d'Or award honours the male player deemed to have performed the best over the previous year, based on voting by football journalists, from 1956 to 2006. After 2007, coaches and captains of national teams were also given the right to vote. Originally, it was an award only for players from Europe and widely known as the European Footballer of the Year award. In 1995, the Ballon d'Or was expanded to include all players from any origin that have been active at European clubs. The award became a global prize in 2007 with all professional footballers from around the world being eligible.
Stanley Matthews of Blackpool was the inaugural winner of the Ballon d'Or. Prior to 2007, the award was generally known as the continental European Footballer of the Year award in English language and much international media. Even after 2007, it was usually identified with and referred to by that name because of its origin as a European award, until it was merged with FIFA's World Player award cementing its new worldwide claim. Milan's George Weah, the only African recipient, became the first non-European to win the award in 1995, the year that rules of eligibility were changed for the first time. Ronaldo of Internazionale became the first South American winner two years later. The second rule change in 2007 to include players from all continents did not bring up new winners, as all recipients since then have still exclusively been active in Europe during their win.
Lionel Messi has won the award a record six times while playing for Barcelona, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won five (one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid). Three players have won the award three times each: Johan Cruyff of Ajax and Barcelona, Michel Platini of Juventus, and Marco van Basten of Milan. With seven awards each, Dutch, German, and Portuguese players have won the most Ballons d'Or. Players from Germany (1972, 1981) and the Netherlands (1988) were the only to take all three top spots in one year, with German (1972) and especially Italian clubs (1988–1990) achieving the same feat, including two years solely made up of AC Milan players (1988, 1989), a unique record until Spanish clubs experienced an unforeseen dominance (2009–2012, 2015, 2016) and Barcelona (2010) became the second club with three top players. Two Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, also lead the ranking for employing the most winners, with twelve and eleven wins.
Between 2010 and 2015 inclusive, the award was merged with a similar one, the FIFA World Player of the Year award, to create the FIFA Ballon d'Or, which was awarded to the world's best male player before FIFA and France Football decided not to continue the merging agreement. After 2011, UEFA created the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award to maintain the tradition of the original Ballon d'Or of specifically honouring a football player from Europe.
Eight players (Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Paolo Rossi, Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaká) have won the FIFA World Cup, the European Cup/UEFA Champions League, and the Ballon d'Or during their careers.
The award shows a bias in favor of attacking players, which has increased in recent decades. Over time, the award has gone to a more exclusive set of leagues and clubs. Prior to 1995, 10 leagues supplied Ballon d'Or winners, whereas only England, Germany, Italy, and Spain have supplied winners since 1995. Spain's La Liga has the most Ballon d'Or winners. Barcelona and Real Madrid have supplied the most Ballon d'Or winners since 1995.
In 2020, the Group L'Équipe, to which France Football belongs, decided that no award would be given for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting short the seasons of football clubs worldwide.
|This indicates the Ballon d'Or winning player also won the FIFA World Player of the Year or|
The Best FIFA Men's Player award in the same year (available from 1991 – 2009 and 2016 – present)
Wins by player
One-time winners are only included if they have also finished second or third in another year.
|Player||Winner||Second place||Third place|
|Lionel Messi[note 31]||6 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019)||5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)||1 (2007)|
|Cristiano Ronaldo[note 32]||5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)||6 (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018)||1 (2019)|
|Michel Platini||3 (1983, 1984, 1985)||—||2 (1977, 1980)|
|Johan Cruyff||3 (1971, 1973, 1974)||—||1 (1975)|
|Marco van Basten||3 (1988, 1989, 1992)||—||—|
|Franz Beckenbauer||2 (1972, 1976)||2 (1974, 1975)||1 (1966)|
|Ronaldo||2 (1997, 2002)||1 (1996)||1 (1998)|
|Alfredo Di Stéfano||2 (1957, 1959)||1 (1956)||—|
|Kevin Keegan||2 (1978, 1979)||1 (1977)||—|
|Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||2 (1980, 1981)||1 (1979)||—|
|Luis Suárez||1 (1960)||2 (1961, 1964)||1 (1965)|
|Eusébio||1 (1965)||2 (1962, 1966)||—|
|Bobby Charlton||1 (1966)||2 (1967, 1968)||—|
|Raymond Kopa||1 (1958)||1 (1959)||2 (1956, 1957)|
|Gerd Müller||1 (1970)||1 (1972)||2 (1969, 1973)|
|Zinedine Zidane||1 (1998)||1 (2000)||1 (1997)|
|Gianni Rivera||1 (1969)||1 (1963)||—|
|Ruud Gullit||1 (1987)||1 (1988)||—|
|Lothar Matthäus||1 (1990)||1 (1991)||—|
|Roberto Baggio||1 (1993)||1 (1994)||—|
|Hristo Stoichkov||1 (1994)||1 (1992)||—|
|Andriy Shevchenko||1 (2004)||—||2 (1999, 2000)|
|George Best||1 (1968)||—||1 (1971)|
|Allan Simonsen||1 (1977)||—||1 (1983)|
|Ronaldinho||1 (2005)||—||1 (2004)|
Wins by country
Wins by club
A decade later, France Football elected Pelé the Football Player of the Century after consulting their former Ballon d'Or recipients. Among the 34 previous winners, 30 cast their votes; Stanley Matthews, Omar Sívori and George Best abstained, and Lev Yashin had died. Each voter was allotted five votes worth up to five points; however, Di Stéfano only chose a first place, Platini a first and second place, and George Weah two players for fifth place. Pelé was named the greatest by 17 voters, receiving almost double the number of points earned by the runner-up, Diego Maradona.
|Alfredo Di Stéfano||44||4||3||3||1||1|
To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Ballon d'Or in 2016, France Football published a reevaluation of the awards presented before 1995, when only European players were eligible to win the award. 12 out of the 39 Ballons d'Or presented during this time period would have been awarded to South American players; in addition to Pelé and Diego Maradona, Garrincha, Mario Kempes, and Romário were retrospectively recognized as worthy winners. The original recipients, however, remain unchanged.
|1959||Alfredo Di Stéfano||Pelé|
|1978||Kevin Keegan||Mario Kempes|
|1986||Igor Belanov||Diego Maradona|
|1990||Lothar Matthäus||Diego Maradona|
- Kopa was signed by Real Madrid from Stade de Reims midway through 1956.
- Born in Argentina, Di Stéfano acquired Spanish citizenship in 1956 and went on to play for the Spanish national football team.
- Kopa was signed by Stade de Reims from Real Madrid midway through 1959.
- Born in Argentina, Sívori acquired Italian citizenship in 1961 and went on to play for the Italian national football team.
- Luis Suárez was signed by Internazionale from Barcelona midway through 1961.
- Cruyff was signed by Barcelona from Ajax midway through 1973.
- Keegan was signed by Hamburg from Liverpool midway through 1977.
- Krankl was signed by Barcelona from Rapid Wien midway through 1978.
- Schuster was signed by Barcelona from 1. FC Köln midway through 1980.
- Boniek was signed by Juventus from Widzew Łódź midway through 1982.
- Simonsen was signed by Vejle from Charlton Athletic midway through 1983.
- Elkjær was signed by Hellas Verona from Lokeren midway through 1984.
- Lineker was signed by Barcelona from Everton midway through 1986.
- Gullit was signed by Milan from PSV Eindhoven midway through 1987.
- Futre was signed by Atlético Madrid from Porto midway through 1987.
- Rijkaard was signed by Milan from Real Zaragoza midway through 1988.
- Bergkamp was signed by Internazionale from Ajax midway through 1993.
- Weah was signed by Milan from Paris Saint-Germain midway through 1995.
- Klinsmann was signed by Bayern Munich from Tottenham Hotspur midway through 1995.
- Ronaldo was signed by Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven midway through 1996.
- Shearer was signed by Newcastle United from Blackburn Rovers midway through 1996.
- Ronaldo was signed by Internazionale from Barcelona midway through 1997.
- Shevchenko was signed by Milan from Dynamo Kyiv midway through 1999.
- Figo was signed by Real Madrid from Barcelona midway through 2000.
- Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid from Internazionale midway through 2002.
- Deco was signed by Barcelona from Porto midway through 2004.
- Cannavaro was signed by Real Madrid from Juventus midway through 2006.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid from Manchester United midway through 2009.
- Neymar was signed by Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona midway through 2017.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was signed by Juventus from Real Madrid midway through 2018.
- Messi won four FIFA Ballons d'Or (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015) and twice finished in second place (2013, 2014).
- Cristiano Ronaldo won two FIFA Ballons d'Or (2013, 2014) and thrice finished in second place (2011, 2012, 2015).
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