There are 10 players in the history of football that have won the most prestigious football award, Ballon d’Or, more than once. These players belong to the club of All-time Ballon d’Or winners. Also, some of these players are always mentioned in the debate about who the Greatest of All Time is.
To attempt to give one of them the title of being the GOAT in football, we have to look at the pedigree of those 10 players that belong to the club of All-time Ballon d’Or winners. These players had won at least two Ballon d’Or during their football career.
The ten All-time Ballon d’Or winners and the number of time they have won the award is as follows:
- Lionel Messi (Argentina) 6
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 5
- Johann Cruyff (The Netherlands) 3
- Michel Platini (France) 3
- Marco van Basten (The Netherlands) 3
- Alfredo Di Stéfano (Spain) 2
- Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany) 2
- Kevin Keegan (England) 2
- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany) 2
- Ronaldo (Brazil) 2
Now that we have known the players with the highest number of Ballon d’Or, let us look at them individually and what they were able to achieve in their football career before we can conclude on who the GOAT among them is.
- Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi currently plays for FC Barcelona. He has been playing for the Spanish club since he started playing professional football.
The 33-year-old versatile Argentine footballer is the most successful player in terms of winning the Ballon d’Or. He has won the prestigious football award for a record, 6 times to top the ten All-time Ballon d’Or winners’ list.
The Argentinian won the Ballon d’Or four years in a row between 2009 and 2012 and won the award two more times in 2015 and 2019.
So far in his football career, Lionel Messi has won 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copas del Rey for FC Barcelona but has only managed to win an Olympic Gold and FIFA under-20 World Cup for Argentina.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the candidates for the Greatest of All Time as far as football is concerned. He is however behind Messi in terms of the number of Ballon d’Or he has won so far in his career.
The 35-year-old Portuguese and Juventus football icon has won the Ballon d’Or 5 times, 4 times at Real Madrid, and once at Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo has won 30 major trophies in his career, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA European Championship, and one UEFA Nations League title. He holds the records for the most goals (134) and assists (41) in the history of the UEFA Champions League.
- Johann Cruyff
Johann Cruyff was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. During his playing days, the late Netherlands international won three Ballon d’Or, 1971, 1973, and 1974.
The Dutch football icon played for Ajax, FC Barcelona, and Feyenoord between 1964 and 1984. He won virtually everything in European club football before he retired to face the business of being a football manager. Though he achieved so much for the clubs he played for, he could not do much for the Netherlands apart from finishing as runner-up in 1974 FIFA World Cup and finishing third in 1976 UEFA European Championship.
- Michel Platini
Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or three times, 1983, 1984, and 1985 while playing for Juventus and France’s national team.
He won virtually everything in European football for both club and country but could not win the FIFA World Cup. He managed to help France to finish third in the competition in 1986.
- Marco van Basten
Despite retiring from football when he was just 28-year-old due to an incessant amount of injuries, Marco van Basten is still regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
During his playing days with Ajax and Milan, Van Basten won three Ballon d’Or, 1988, 1989, and 1992.
At club level, he won three Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winners’ Cup with Ajax, and four Serie A titles and three European Cups with Milan. Before he retired from football, he helped Milan to win UEFA European Championship in 1988.
- Alfredo Di Stéfano
Alfredo Di Stéfano won the Ballon d’Or two times, 1957 and 1959. The Argentine football icon had the best of his career at Real Madrid where he won everything European football has to offer. However, he managed to help Argentina to win only the South American Championship in 1947.
- Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer won the Ballon d’Or twice, 1972, 1976 while playing for Bayern Munich between 1964 and 1977. While at the club, he helped the German club to win everything European club football has to offer. He also helped West Germany to win FIFA World Cup in 1974 and UEFA European Championship in 1972.
- Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan won the Ballon d’Or twice, 1978, and 1979 while playing for Hamburger SV between 1977 and 1980. He has played for a couple of clubs across the Premier League including Liverpool, Manchester City, and Newcastle United. He won one Bundesliga with Hamburger SV and virtually every club title in England with Liverpool.
- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has won the Ballon d’Or twice, 1980 and 1981 while playing for Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1984. He won virtually everything in club football and helped West Germany to win UEFA European Championship in 1980, and ended the 1982 and 1986 FIFA World Cup as runner-up.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, simply known as Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or twice in 1997 and 2002 while playing for FC Barcelona and Inter Milan. He has won everything in club football and virtually everything in international football. He helped Brazil to win two FIFA World Cup trophies, 1994 and 2002, two Copa América, and one FIFA Confederations Cup.
Who is the greatest of all time in football?
Based on the profiles of these ten players that belong to the club of All-time Ballon d’Or winners, one can easily say the debate about the greatest of all time is between Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona even though they are yet to win the prestigious FIFA World Cup.
Arguably, there is no individual player that has won as many club titles as the two football rivals (Messi and Ronaldo), and their impact on all the football teams they play for is always second to known.
For the fact that Messi has won the Ballon d’Or which is seen as the most prestigious football award in the world, a record 6-time, and has the highest amount of career trophies, it will be safe to say the 33-year-old Argentina international is the greatest of all time in football.