Ballon d'Or

Ballon d'Or: Every winner of men's football's top individual honour

90min
The trophy is the most prestigious individual award in footballl
The trophy is the most prestigious individual award in footballl / Philipp Schmidli/GettyImages
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Since its inception in 1956, the Ballon d'Or has firmly established itself as the most prestigious individual honour in world football.

The golden trophy was the brainchild of France Football chief magazine writer Gabriel Hanot, who asked his media colleagues to select the best footballer in Europe that year.

There have been a few tweaks in the years that have followed - players from across the world are now eligible for one - as well as a few rebrands. However, the basic concept has remained untouched.

To date, 25 players have won the Ballon d'Or, with the following bestowed with the honour of being the individual footballer on the planet...


Previous Ballon d'Or winners

1956 - Stanley Matthews (Blackpool)
1957 - Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid)
1958 - Raymond Kopa (Real Madrid)
1959 - Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid)
1960 - Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

1961 - Omar Sivori (Juventus)
1962 - Josef Masopust (Dukla Prague)
1963 - Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow)
1964 - Denis Law (Manchester United)
1965 - Eusebio (Benfica)

1966 - Bobby Charlton (Manchester United)
1967 - Florian Albert (Ferencvaros)
1968 - George Best (Manchester United)
1969 - Gianni Rivera (Milan)
1970 - Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich)

1971 - Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
1972 - Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich)
1973 - Johan Cruyff (Barcelona)
1974 - Johan Cruyff (Barcelona)
1975 - Oleg Blokhin (Dynamo Kyiv)

1976 - Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich)
1977 - Allan Simonsen (Borussia Monchengladbach)
1978 - Kevin Keegan (Hamburg)
1979 - Kevin Keegan (Hamburg)
1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich)

1981 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich)
1982 - Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
1983 - Michel Platini (Juventus)
1984 - Michel Platini (Juventus)
1985 - Michel Platini (Juventus)

1986 - Igor Belanov (Dynamo Kyiv)
1987 - Ruud Gullit (Milan)
1988 - Marco van Basten (Milan)
1989 - Marco van Basten (Milan)
1990 - Lothar Matthaus (Inter)

1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin (Marseille)
1992 - Marco van Basten (Milan)
1993 - Roberto Baggio (Juventus)
1994 - Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona)
1995 - George Weah (Milan)

1996 - Matthias Sammer (Borussia Dortmund)
1997 - Ronaldo (Inter)
1998 - Zinedine Zidane (Juventus)
1999 - Rivaldo (Barcelona)
2000 - Luis Figo (Real Madrid)

2001 - Michael Owen (Liverpool)
2002 - Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2003 - Pavel Nedved (Juventus)
2004 - Andriy Shevchenko (Milan)
2005 - Ronaldinho (Barcelona)

2006 - Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid)
2007 - Kaka (Milan)
2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2009 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2010 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

2011 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2012 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2013 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2014 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2015 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

2016 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2017 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2018 - Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
2019 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2020 - No award

2021 - Lionel Messi (PSG)


Who has won the Ballon d'Or the most times?

Lionel Messi
That's a lot of gold / Kristy Sparow/GettyImages

Lionel Messi has won the award a record seven times. His closest competition is long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo who has five.

Further down the list, Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten are tied with three wins each, while Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have two Ballons d'Or to their name.


Who is the youngest winner of the Ballon d'Or?

The youngest ever recipient of the Ballon d'Or is Ronaldo, who won the award aged just 21 years old in 1997.

It was recognition for an incredible debut season at Inter that saw the then most expensive player in the world - the Nerazzurri paid Barcelona just shy of £20m for Ronaldo in 1996 - score 34 times in 47 appearances.


Ballon d'Or wins by country

Four countries have gifted seven Ballon d'Or wins: Germany, Netherlands, Argentina (all Messi, mind you) and Portugal.

France have proved fruitful producers of talent too, with six victories, while Italy, Brazil and England have all totted up five wins.


Ballon d'Or wins by club

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M
Barcelona are no strangers to a Ballon d'Or winner / LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

No club has produced more Ballon d'Or wins than Barcelona. Six different Blaugrana stars have won the award 12 times between them, once more than the seven Real Madrid players honoured have done.

Over in Italy, both Juventus and Milan have yielded six different victors who have won the Ballon d'Or eight times in total.

Bayern Munich are next on the list with five wins from three players, while Manchester United have hosted four different winners.


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