Image source: Flickr
France Football announced this week that there won’t be any Ballon d’Or winner this year after the lack of professional football. It is the first time since 1956 that they won’t award the best footballer of the year but their decision is the right thing to do in these circumstances. It gives us an opportunity though to have a look at past winners and make a list of the legendary Ballon d’Or winners.
In the Ballon d’Or winners, we find the greatest footballers of all time with most of them winning trophies from World and European Championships. They are also winners of the biggest international tournaments like the Champions League (former European Champion Clubs Cup) and domestic leagues in the top European championships. Lionel Messi has won the most, six-times the award but he is followed closely by Cristiano Ronaldo who has won it five times. Usually, the award is given to the best strikers but we can find great defenders and midfielders in the legendary winners, here they are.
7. Franz Beckenbauer in the legendary Ballon d’Or winners
The Kaiser belongs to the small number of defenders who received the Ballon d’Or. Not just once but twice, in 1972 and 1976. One of the greatest players of all time, Beckenbauer won everything with West Germany, leading them as a captain to the European and World Cup titles. At club level, he also won the European Cup three consecutive years between 1974 and 1976 with Bayern Munich. As one of the best defenders of all time, he created the sweeper position and became the master of it.
6. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane was an iconic figure of the French team which won the World Cup on home soil in 1998. After scoring two goals in the final against Brazil, it wasn’t surprising that Zidane received the Ballon d’Or that year. Zizu with his fantastic skills helped his club teams as well to several titles. He won Serie A with Juventus twice, then he moved to Real Madrid in 2001 and became a Spanish champion with the club. He also scored in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen. Zidane continued his great career as a manager of Real and won the Champions League in three consecutive years with the club. After a year break, he returned back to the club and won another La Liga title as online sportsbooks news in France was reporting.
5. Michel Platini
Another French midfielder in the legendary Ballon d’Or winners is Michel Platini. He also played in Juventus where he was the Serie A top goalscorer in three consecutive years. He scored the most goals in their 1984-85 European Cup campaign. His former team is still in this year’s competition and will play against Lyon in the quarter-finals. Online gambling sites in France are favoring them to go through. Back to Platini, he was the first player to win the Ballon d’Or three times in a row, between 1983 – 1985. “The King” also helped his national team to the European Championship victory in 1984. And to the semi-finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.
4. Marco van Basten
His teammate, Demetrio Albertini said Marco van Basten was the best player he ever played with. Well, many would agree with him. As the three-time Ballon d’Or winner won his awards before retiring at the age of only 28. The Dutch top striker scored 300 goals during his short career. Including five goals in the 1988 European Championship where the Orange became the champions. He could score from any angle and be known for his elegance on the ball, earning him the nickname “The Swan”. Van Basten also won three Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winner’s Cup with Ajax, before joining AC Milan. With the Italians he also won the European Cup in 1989 and 1990, resulting in more recognition from France Football.
3. Johan Cruyff
Another great player from the Netherlands, Johan Cruyff has also won the Ballon d’Or three times. His first award came in 1971 when he was still playing for Ajax. Cruyff won the Eredivisie, the European Cup and the Dutch Cup with the team. But other teams have also noticed his amazing dribbling skills and his speed. In the end Barcelona signed him for a record fee in 1973. He won La Liga with the team and his second Ballon d’Or which was followed by another one in 1974. Journalists rewarded him after his superb performance in the 1974 World Cup where he led the Dutch team to the final. Cruyff continued his legacy as a manager at Ajax and in Barcelona. He has created the style which the club is still famous for and became a real football legend.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
After reading about so many great players, there are still two players who could stop them. Yes, it is Ronaldo and Messi who are probably the best football players of all time. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times so far. He might increase this number in the next few years still. His first one came in 2008 when he was a player of Manchester United. He won the Premier League and the Champions League with the club in that season. In the following year, he joined Real Madrid and achieved many further titles with the Blancos.
Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals and assists in the Champions League. He scored over 700 goals in total so far. In 2016 he also won the European Championship as the captain of the Portuguese team. His effort and brilliant play were rewarded with another Ballon d’Or. He is still in top form at the age of 35 and set to win another league title with his current club, Juventus.
1. Lionel Messi
Even without any major title with the Argentine national team, Lionel Messi has won six Ballon d’Or so far. Of course, he won everything with FC Barcelona. 10 La Liga titles, 6 times the Cope del Rey and 4 times the Champions League. His first award came in 2009 when he got almost double the votes than runner-up Ronaldo. Of course, that was the year when he helped Barca to win the first treble in Spanish football.
And it was just the start as Messi won the Ballon d’Or in the next three years as well. He became the first player to win the award in four consecutive years. He also holds some records like Ronaldo. Like most goals and most assists in La Liga, and the most hat-tricks in La Liga and the Champions League. Messi won his last Ballon d’Or last year. He managed to defeat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk in a tight race, a key member in Champions League winner Liverpool. But I have a feeling that it wasn’t the last time we could see his name in the top 3.