The Ballon d’Or is the oldest and most prestigious football award in the world which awards the best footballers on earth yearly. For the past 64 years, the award voted for by football journalists, is given to footballers who are adjudged the best in a 12-month period.
Though the award will not hold in 2020 for the first time since its inception in 1956, it has left lasting memories in the minds of football lovers that one can hardly stop talking about it.
In recent times, Ballon d’Or has been dominated by two greats in the game – Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’s Cristiano Ronaldo. They have both won it a record 11 times, 6 for Messi and 5 for Ronaldo.
Below are the all-time highest winners of the Ballon d’Or
- Lionel Messi – Argentina – 6 times
Argentina and Barcelona football icon, Lionel Messi, has won the Ballon d’Or a record 6 times. He won it for the first time in 2009, and then went on to win it 3 successive time – 2010, 2011, 2012. The 32-year-old Barcelona star had a two years break and then came back to win it in 2015 and 2019. He and his career rival, Cristiano Ronaldo hold the record of being nominated 12 times each for the award.
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal – 5
Portugal and Juventus forward, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers in the world. He has played in three top European clubs – Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus. The 35-year-old charismatic footballer has won the Ballon d’Or 5 times. Ronaldo won his first Ballon d’Or in 2008, and then took a 4-year break from the podium and then resumed in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
- Johann Cruyff – The Netherlands – 3
Johann Cruyff was one of the greatest footballers in The Netherlands and one of the greatest of all time. He played the best of his career at Barcelona. Before he retired from football, Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or three times – 1971, 1973, and 1974. He died on 24 March 2016, one month before he could clock 69-year-old.
- Michel Platini – France – 3
Michel Platini is one of the greatest footballers of all time who played the best of his football with Juventus and the French national team. Before he retired from football, the former UEFA president won the Ballon d’Or three times – 1983, 1984 and 1985.
- Marco van Basten – The Netherlands – 3
Marco van Basten is another great name in Dutch football. Just like his late countryman, Cruyff, Basten has won the Ballon d’Or three times – 1988, 1989, 1992 despite retiring from professional football before his 30th birthday due to injuries. The 55-year-old football legend has gone on to manage his former club, Ajax and The Netherlands national team.
- Alfredo Di Stéfano – Spain – 2
Alfredo Di Stéfano was one of the greatest footballers of his generation. The former Real Madrid player and manager won the Ballon d’Or two times – 1957 and 1959. He died aged 88. He represented Argentina and Spain football national team.
- Franz Beckenbauer – West Germany – 2
Franz Beckenbauer is regarded as one of the greatest German footballers of time. The 75-year-old football manager played mostly for Bayern Munich. Before he retired from active football, he won the Ballon d’Or two times – 1972 and 1976.
- Kevin Keegan – England – 2
Kevin Keegan is a retired England international who played for a numerous of clubs across Europe but he was more prominent as a Liverpool player. The 69-year-old football manager has won the Ballon d’Or two times – 1978 and 1979.
- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – West Germany – 2
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is arguably the most decorated German footballer of all time. During his playing days, he was a prominent feature at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. The 64-year-old football administrator has won the Ballon d’Or two times – 1980 and 1981.
10. Ronaldo – Brazil – 2
Ronaldo de Lima is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He represented Brazil at international level and played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan. The 43-year-old football administrator won two Ballon d’Or, 1997 and 2002, during his playing days.