Men’s Ballon d’Or Winners [Full List]

The men’s Ballon d’Or is one of football’s most prestigious awards, if not the most, and it is no surprising that it has become the obsession of footballers, fans and their respective clubs over the years and many, particularly fans and colleagues of certain footballers gladly tip their teammates to win the prestigious award after a successful season at the league and most importantly, Champions League level.

Despite its importance, the number of winners of the Ballon d’Or over the years are not as much as nominees who keep changing almost every year and are usually lined up as top 3 after trimming them.

In this post, we shall be taking a look at the long list of men’s Ballon d’Or winners, what year they won, their clubs at the time they won the award and some other fascinating details about the most coveted individual trophy in football.

What is the Ballon d’Or?

The Ballon d’Or, which translates into “Golden Ball” is an annual football award presented by the France Football Magazine to the most outstanding individual player in a team. The one who wins the Ballon d’Or award is regarded as the best player in the world for the year they won it. The female version of the award is called Ballon d’Or Féminin.

History of The Ballon d’Or

The Ballon d’Or was first awarded in 1956 to Stanley Matthews of England. It was initially known as the continental European Footballer of the Year award and was only awarded to European players until 1995 when it merged with FIFA’s World Player award in a bid to make the award have a global appeal. George Weah of Liberia won it same year, becoming the first African player to ever win the award. Ronaldo of Brazil would later win it in 1997, to become the first Brazilian/South American to win the award. In 2007, the rules were changed to include players from every continent.

Men’s Ballon d’Or Award Winners

Below is the complete list of all men’s Ballon d’Or award winners from the inception of the award; their nationality and the year they won their Ballon d’Or awards.

Year Player Nationality Club
2021 Lionel Messi Argentina Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
2020 not awarded due to COVID-19 pandemic
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
1961 Omar Sívori Italy Juventus
1960 Luis Suárez Spain Barcelona
1959 Alfredo Di Stéfano Spain Real Madrid
1958 Raymond Kopa France Real Madrid
1957 Alfredo Di Stéfano Spain Real Madrid
1956 Stanley Matthews England Blackpool

Ballon d’Or Wins by Players

Currently, Lionel Messi of Argentina has the highest Ballon d’Or win with 7 awards. Below is a list of men’s footballers that have won the Ballon d’Or more than once:

Player Number of Ballon d’Or Awards Second place Country
Lionel Messi 7 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021) 5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) Argentina
Cristiano Ronaldo 5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) 6 (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018) Portugal
Michel Platini 3 (1983, 1984, 1985) France
Johan Cruyff 3 (1971, 1973, 1974) Netherlands
Marco van Basten 3 (1988, 1989, 1992) Netherlands
Franz Beckenbauer 2 (1972, 1976) 2 (1974, 1975) Germany
Ronaldo 2 (1997, 2002) 1 (1996) Brazil
Alfredo Di Stéfano 2 (1957, 1959) 1 (1956) Spain
Kevin Keegan 2 (1978, 1979) 1 (1977) England
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge 2 (1980, 1981) 1 (1979) Germany

Ballon d’or wins by Country

Argentina, Netherlands, Portugal and Germany all hold the most Ballon d’Or win by country, with each of them winning the individual football award seven (7) times. However, only Argentina have won the Ballon d’Or award with just one player, Lionel Messi.

Country Players Ballon d’Or Wins
Argentina 1 7
Netherlands 3 7
Portugal 3 7
Germany 5 7
France 4 6
Italy 5 5
Brazil 4 5
England 4 5
Soviet Union 3 3
Spain 2 3
Bulgaria 1 1
Croatia 1 1
Czech Republic 1 1
Czechoslovakia 1 1
Denmark 1 1
Hungary 1 1
Liberia 1 1
Northern Ireland 1 1
Scotland 1 1
Ukraine 1 1

Ballon d’or wins by Club

Barcelona has the most Ballon d’Or wins by club (12), with six of their players, followed closely by Real Madrid (11). Seven of Barcelona’s Ballon d’or is won by Lionel Messi while Five of Real Madrid’s Ballon d’or is won by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Club Players Wins
Barcelona 6 12
Real Madrid 7 11
Juventus 6 8
Milan 6 8
Bayern Munich 3 5
Manchester United 4 4
Dynamo Kyiv 2 2
Internazionale 2 2
Hamburger SV 1 2
Ajax 1 1
Benfica 1 1
Blackpool 1 1
Borussia Dortmund 1 1
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 1
Dukla Prague 1 1
Dynamo Moscow 1 1
Ferencváros 1 1
Liverpool 1 1
Marseille 1 1
Paris Saint-Germain 1 1

What qualifies a player for Ballon d’Or?

First, the Ballon d’Or is an individual award. Thus, a player who aspires to win the Ballon d’Or must be brilliant individually and must win trophies with his club, mostly the league cup and the UEFA Champions League. In a World Cup year, he must be exceptional and not necessarily win the World Cup. Although, winning the World Cup is a huge plus.

Who has the most Ballon d’Or wins?

Lionel Messi of Argentina has the most Ballon d’or wins (7), more than any player. Cristiano Ronaldo comes second having won 5 Ballon d’Or awards. Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Johan Cryuff have all won 3 Ballon d’or awards each.

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