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A History of One-Time Ballon d'Or Winners

Sun 12 September 2021 | 13:30

We have already talked about footballers who have won the Ballon d’Or trophy multiple times, but how about the lesser known footballers who have won the prize only once during their careers. In this post, we are to one-time Ballon d'Or winners actually in the history of the prize.

The list of Ballon d'Or winners

who have won the prize just once during their careers is actually comprised of 33 footballers some of whom have also finished second or third in other years than the year they won the prize and some of whom not - we mean they only won the prize once and never finished second or third in other years.

Surely, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are not on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners as they have won the prize multiple times. Don’t expect to hear about them in this post, however, there are other top footballers like Zinedine Zidane whom we mention in this post.

A List of One-Time Ballon d'Or Winners

The list of Ballon d'Or winners with just one Ballon d’Or trophy starts with Stanley Matthews, but what other footballers are on the list? Stay with us to know.

Stanley Matthews (1956)

The winner of the first edition of Ballon d’Or trophy, Stanley Matthews, is also one of the one-time Ballon d'Or winners. He’s also one of the passed footballers on the list; he actually died at the age of 85. Matthews won the Ballon d’Or trophy when he was 41 and it might be interesting for you to know that he continued his career until 1965 that he was 50. His great technique and top dribbling abilities which had turned him into one of almost unbeatable players on the pitch had the Brazilian legend, Pele, say about him: “Stanley Matthews taught us the way football should be played” and actually won him the top European prize in 1956.

Raymond Kopa (1958)

Another passed footballer on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners, who, just like Stanley Matthews, died at the age of 85, Raymond Kopa was a French footballer who played as an attacking midfielder and managed to win the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1958. Other than that, he also finished third in 1956 and 1957 and second in 1959 editions of Ballon d’Or. Although Kopa served

Real Madrid

only for three years during his career, at the time he won the Ballon d’Or trophy he was a Real Madrid player and at the peak of his performance. He is also the first French footballer ever to have won the top European prize.

Luis Suarez (1960)

Another passed footballer on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners, Luis Suarez was a Spanish footballer who died at the age of 86 and served the two top European clubs, Barcelona and Inter Milan, sometime during his career. At the time Suarez won the Ballon d’Or trophy, he was 25 years old and a Barcelona player. He also finished second twice in 1962 and 1966 and third once in 1965 edition of Ballon d’Or. If we rule out Alfredo Di Stefano as an Argentinian footballer since he was born in Argentina, then Luis Suarez will be the first Spanish footballer to have the Ballon d’Or trophy.

Omar Sivori (1961)

Omar Sivori is another passed footballer on the list who managed to win the Ballon d’Or trophy only once during his career; actually in 1961 and he never finished second or third in any other editions of the European prize. Sivori was 26 years old and a

Juventus

player at the time he won the Ballon d’Or trophy, and if we ignore his Argentinian citizenship, he’s actually the first Italian footballer to have the trophy. He’s also one of the five Italian footballers alongside Paolo Rossi, Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Baggio, and Rivera to have won the prize in its history.

Josef Masopust (1962)

One of the only two Czech winners of the Ballon d’Or trophy in the history of the prize - the other is Pavel Nedved, Josef Masopust is a passed Czech footballer who died at the age of 84 and was actually from the former Czechoslovakia. He served the top Czech club,

Dukla Prague

, for a major part of his career and won the Ballon d’Or trophy when he was with them and at the age of 31.

Lev Yashin (1963)

The only goalkeeper on the list of

one-time Ballon d'Or winners

and actually the only goalkeeper in the history of football to have won a Ballon d’Or trophy, Lev Yashin is a passed Russian - more precisely the former Soviet Union - goalkeeper who died at the age of 60. He has also saved more penalties than any other goalkeeper in the history of football and received the Ballon d’Or trophy for his revolutionary approach to goalkeeping. At the time that almost all goalkeepers stood for 90 minutes between the posts and waited for the action to come to them, Yashin always took to action by organizing his defense line, leaving the goal to meet the onrushing opposition forwards, and “acting as an extra defender” as once was described by the French magazine, France Football, in June 2018.

Denis Law (1964)

The top former Scottish forward and a prolific goalscorer who served

Manchester United

for a major part of his career, Denis Law is actually the only Scottish footballer ever to have won the Ballon d’Or trophy to this date. He actually did it just two years after joining Man Utd when he was 24 years old, and naturally, at the peak of his performance. Law is also one of the four Manchester United players to have won the trophy in the history of the club - the other three are Sir Bobby Charlton in 1966, George Best in 1968, and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.

Eusebio (1965)

The first Portuguese footballer to have won the Ballon d’Or trophy in the history of the prize, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, simply known as Eusebio, in the world of football, is a 71-year-old retired footballer the top Portuguese club, Benfica, for the majority of his career; actually between 1961 and 1975. He won the Ballon d’Or trophy just four years after joining Benfica when he was 33 years old and finished second twice in 1962 and 1966 editions of the prize. And it might be interesting for you to know that in 1966 he finished second just with one point behind Sir Bobby Charlton who won the prize - He earned 80 points while Bobby Charlton earned 81.

Bobby Charlton (1966)

Just like Eusebio, Sir Bobby Charlton, also won the Ballon d’Or trophy once - actually in 1966 - and finished second twice in two different editions of the prize (1967 and 1968 editions). 83 years old by now, Sir Bobby Charlton, served Manchester United for the majority of his career and won the Ballon d’Or trophy 10 years after joining them in 1966 when he was 29 years old. Bobby Charlton was actually part of the Manchester United Holy Trinity alongside George Best and Denis Law who helped the club become the First English club to win the European Cup.

Florian Albert (1967)

The only Hungarian winner of Ballon d’Or, Florian Albert, is a passed footballer who was both a prolific goalscorer and a one-club man; he only served the top Hungarian club,

Ferencvaros

, during his 16-year career which lasted from 1958 to 1974. 1967 was a special year for Albert: He not only won the Ballon d’Or trophy and with almost a wide margin concerning the points he gained (68) compared to the second place occupied by Bobby Charlton with 40 points but also won the Hungarian championship, was named the Hungarian Player of the Year, and celebrated the birth of his first son!

George Best (1968)

Another member of the Holy Trinity of Manchester United, George Best is a passed English footballer who served Manchester United for the majority of his career; actually for 11 years between 1963 and 1974. He won the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1968 with 61 points when he was still 22 years old and indeed with Manchester United. He also finished third in the 1971 edition of the prize but never second in any other of its editions. Best also won the European Cup and the English Player of the Year award in the same year that he won the Ballon d’Or trophy.

Gianni Rivera (1969)

We may call Gianni Rivera actually the first pure Italian footballer to have won the Ballon d’Or trophy - Remember Omar Sivori had the double citizenship of Italy and Argentina. Rivera won the 1969 edition of Ballon d’Or trophy when he was 26 years old and finished second in the 1963 edition of the prize. Other than that, his best shot at the prize was a sixth place in 1962. He served

AC Milan

for almost all his career and was always on the list of Ballon d’Or contenders during 1960s, but other than the sixth place he got in 1962, his position never improved better than 10th or higher.

Gerd Muller (1970)

One of the legendary German footballers who not only won the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1970 but also got close to winning it three other times in 1972, 1969 and 1973 where he actually finished second in the former with only two points behind the great Franz Beckenbauer and third in the two latter editions of the prize. Muller won the Ballon d’Or trophy when he was 25 years old and with Bayern Munich. He also won the European Golden Shoe and FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in the same year that he won the Ballon d’Or trophy.

Oleg Blokhin (1975)

And here comes the first Ukrainian - better said Soviet Union - winner of Ballon d’Or trophy: Oleg Blokhin; the 68-year-old former

Dynamo Kyiv

forward and a prolific goalscorer who managed to score almost one goal in every two appearances for the Ukrainian club. Blokhin won the Ballon d’Or trophy when he was 26 years old and with the same Ukrainian club, but he never finished second or third in any other editions of the prize, however, he managed to finish 5th once in 1981 Ballon d’Or.

It might be interesting for you to know that Blokhin is the most capped and all-time top scorer of the former Soviet Union national team, and his points margin with the second place in 1975 Ballon d’Or was 80 points which is quite a wide and considerable gap meaning that he was way better than the other contenders of Ballon d’Or in the same year.

Allan Simonsen (1977)

The only Danish winner of the Ballon d’Or trophy - in fact, to this date, Allan Simonsen is a 68-year-old retired footballer who served the top La Liga club, Barcelona, sometime during his career, however, when he won the Ballon d’Or trophy he was actually a Borussia Monchengladbach player and 25 years old. Simonen also won Onze de Bronze award for finishing third in 1977 Onze d'Or and also the DFL Super Cup with Borussia Monchengladbach in the same year (1977). He also finished third in the 1983 edition of Ballon d’Or.

Paolo Rossi (1982)

One of the top former Italian footballers and, as some believe, an Italian legend, Paolo Rossi is a passed footballer - he just died recently in December 2020 at the age of 64 - who served top Italian clubs, AC Milan and Juventus, sometime during his career. Rossi won his Ballon d’Or trophy in 1982 just one year after he joined Juventus in 1981 and at the age of 26. He also won an Onze d'Or trophy, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, and FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in the same year.

Igor Belanov (1986)

Another footballer from the former Soviet Union on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners, Igor Belanov, is a 60-year-old retired footballer who served some Ukrainian and German clubs during his career. He received his Ballon d’Or trophy in 1986 just one year after he joined the top Ukrainian club, Dynamo Kyiv, and when he was actually 26 years old. He also won the FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot and the Soviet Union Super Cup in the same year.

Ruud Gullit (1987)

They call him a Dutch legend; whatever he is, there is no doubt he was one of top former Dutch footballers to remember. Ruud Gullit served the top Italian club, AC Milan, more than any other club during his career; actually for 7 years between 1987 and 1994 and it was in the first year he joined AC Milan that he won his Ballon d’Or trophy. He also finished second in the next edition of Ballon d’Or (1988 edition) and won Onze d'Argent - the Silver Onze for finishing second - twice in 1988 and 1989.

Lothar Matthaus (1990)

Another top German footballer on the list of

one-time Ballon d'Or winners

, Lothar Matthaus is a 60-year-old retired footballer who served the top Bundesliga club, Bayern Munich, for a major part of his career, however, he received his Ballon d’Or trophy in 1990 and when he was actually serving the top Serie A club, Inter Milan. 1990 was actually the year Matthaus bloomed: He not only received his Ballon d’Or trophy in this year but also won FIFA World Cup Silver Ball and an Onze d'Or trophy and was named IFFHS World's Best Player, World Soccer Awards Player of the Year, German Footballer of the Year, and on FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in the same year. He was 29 years old at the time.

Jean-Pierre Papin (1991)

The second top French footballer on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners, Jean-Pierre Papin is a 57-year-old retired footballer who served the top European clubs, AC Milan and

Bayern Munich

, sometime during his career. He received his Ballon d’Or trophy in 1991 while he was still with AC Milan and 28 years old. He also won an Onze d'Or trophy and became IFFHS World's Top Goal Scorer in the same year, however, he never finished as second or third in the later editions of Ballon d’Or.

Roberto Baggio (1993)

The great former Italian footballer, Roberto Baggio, is another one-time Ballon d’Or winner who served top Italian clubs, Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan, sometime during his career. Baggio won his Ballon d’Or trophy actually three years after he joined Juventus when he was 26 years old. He never finished second or third in any other later editions of Ballon d’Or, but he won an Onze d'Or trophy and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in the same year. He also won one Onze de Bronze and one Onze d'Argent for finishing third an second respectively in the 1994 and 1995 editions of Onze d'Or.

Hristo Stoichkov (1994)

The only Bulgarian one-time Ballon d’Or winner or, better said, the only Bulgarian Ballon d’Or winner, Hristo Stoichkov is a 55-year-old retired footballer who served Barcelona and the Hungarian club,

CSKA Sofia

, more than any other club during his career, and when he won the Ballon d’Or trophy in 1994, he was a player of the former and 28 years old. Stoichkov was named the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year and on FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, and won FIFA World Player of the Year Silver Ball, FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe and FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball all in the same year.

George Weah (1995)

A one-time Ballon d’Or winner you cannot probably guess from where he is: Liberia. George Weah is actually the only Liberian footballer to have won a Ballon d’Or trophy in the history of the prize and, as you can see above, in 1995 when he had just joined AC Milan from PSG. Weah never finished as second or third in the later editions of Ballon d’Or but he won an Onze d'Or trophy and was named African Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year in the same year.

Matthias Sammer (1996)

Maybe for a defender it’s unusual to win a Ballon d’Or trophy since he might have fewer opportunities on the pitch to show his skills on the ball considering that a defender’s main job is to dispossess the opposition, however, there have been few defenders in the history of Ballon d’Or who have managed to win the trophy just like Matthias Sammer did in 1996 and with a very narrow margin from Ronaldo who finished second with just one point behind him - Sammer earned 144 points while Ronaldo earned 143. Sammer won his Ballon d’Or trophy when he was serving the Bundesliga club, Borussia Dortmund, and almost at the end of his career when he was 29 years old. He also won an Onze de Bronze trophy and was named German Footballer of the Year in the same year that he won his Ballon d’Or.

Zinedine Zidane (1998)

The top former and, as some believe, legendary French footballer,

Zinedine Zidane

, is one of those footballers who got close to win the Ballon d’Or trophy more than once but he never did. Zidane won his Ballon d’Or trophy in 1998 and with a wide margin from the second and third places; he actually earned 244 points while the second-place Suker only got 68 points and the third-place Ronaldo only 66. Although Zidane never won a second Ballon d’Or trophy, he finished third once in 1997 and second in 2000. The interesting fact about him is that in all the years that he won the Ballon d’Or trophy or finished second or third he was serving the Italian club, Juventus.

Rivaldo (1999)

One of the few Brazilian footballers to have won the Ballon d’Or trophy in the history of the prize, Rivaldo is a 49-year-old retired footballer who served top European clubs, AC Milan and Barcelona, sometime during his career. He received his Ballon d’Or trophy when he was still with Barcelona and 27 years old. Other than a Ballon d’Or trophy, Rivaldo won an Onze d'Or trophy and a Copa America Golden Boot, and was named Copa America Best Player, FIFA World Player of the Year, and World Soccer Player of the Year in the same year (1999).

Luis Figo (2000)

One of the three Portuguese footballers who have won the Ballon d’Or trophy in the history of the prize - the other two are Eusebio and Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo, simply known as Luis Figo in the world of football, is a 48-year-old retired footballer who served the top European clubs, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan, for almost all his career. Figo won his Ballon d’Or trophy when he had just joined Real Madrid from Barcelona in 2000 and was 28 years old. Other than that, he also won FIFA World Player of the Year silver award and was named World Soccer Player of the Year and La Liga Foreign Player of the Year in the same year.

Michael Owen (2001)

One of the four English footballers alongside Stanley Matthews, Sir Bobby Charlton, and Kevin Keegan, to have won the Ballon d’Or trophy, Michael Owen is a 41-year-old retired footballer whom we can call actually the only English winner of Ballon d’Or trophy in the 21st century, indeed, to this date. He served the top European clubs, Real Madrid,

Liverpool

, and Manchester Unied, for a major part of his career, and won his Ballon d’Or trophy when he was still with Real Madrid and in the middle of his career - he was 22 years old at the time.

Other than the Ballon d’Or trophy Owen won in 2001, he also won an Onze d'Argent trophy and was named World Soccer World Player of the Year in the same year. Considering that even the great David Beckham could not win a Ballon d’Or trophy during his career, though he finished second once in 1999, the Ballon d’Or trophy Owen won should be of great significance to him.

Pavel Nedved (2003)

Another Czech footballer on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners and actually the only Czech Ballon d’Or winner in 21st century, indeed, up until now, Pavel Nedved is a 49-year-old retired midfielder who served the top

Serie A

club, Juventus, more than any other club during his career; actually for 8 years between 2001 and 2009 and at the end of his career. Nedved received his Ballon d’Or trophy two years after he joined Juventus in 2003. He also won a Guerin d'Oro trophy, a World Soccer Player of the Year award, and a Czech Republic Golden Ball and was named Serie A Footballer of the Year, Czech Footballer of the Year, and Czech Sportsperson of the Year in the same year that he received his Ballon d’Or trophy.

Andriy Shevchenko (2004)

The third Ukrainian footballer on the list of one-time Ballon d'Or winners, Andriy Shevchenko is a 44-year-old retired midfielder who served the top European clubs, AC Milan and Chelsea, sometime during his career. He’s often compared to the Dutch forward and three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Marco van Basten, in terms of technique and playstyle, though he was not actually level to him in these terms, however, he was still that good to get ahead the Portuguese midfielder, Deco, and the Brazilian forward, Ronaldinho, in 2004 to become the first Ukrainian winner of Ballon d’Or trophy in 21st century.

Ronaldinho (2005)

One of the top former Brazilian forwards, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, simply known as Ronaldinho in the world of football, is a 41-year-old retired footballer who served the top European clubs, PSG, AC Milan and Barcelona during his career. He actually won his Ballon d’Or trophy when he was still with Barcelona - he served them between 2003 and 2008 - in 2005, and in the same year he also won an Onze d'Or trophy, FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Ball, and the World Soccer Magazine World Player of the Year award, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year, FIFPro World Player of the Year, and on UEFA Team of the Year.

Fabio Cannavaro (2006)

13 years after no Italian footballer received a Ballon d’Or trophy,

Fabio Cannavaro

put an end to the fashion by becoming the first Italian footballer in 21st century to receive a Ballon d’Or trophy. Cannavaro received his Ballon d’Or prize when he had just joined Real Madrid from Juventus; actually in 2006 somewhat at the end of his career. Cannavaro is also among the few defenders in the history of Ballon d’Or to have won the prize. And in the year he won the Ballon d’Or trophy (2006), he also won FIFA World Cup Silver Ball, and also the FIFA World Cup itself with the Italian national team, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year, World Soccer Player of the Year, both Serie A footballer and defender of the year, and on FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament and on UEFA Team of the Year.

Kaka (2007)

The third and last Brazilian footballer on the list of

one-time Ballon d'Or winners

, Kaka is a 39-year-old retired footballer who served the top European clubs, AC Milan and Real Madrid, sometime during his career. Kaka won his Ballon d’Or trophy when he was still with AC Milan - he served them in two time periods, once from 2003 to 2009 and another time in 2013-14 season. 2007 was actually the year Kaka bloomed: He not only received his Ballon d’Or trophy in this year but also other awards some of which are FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball, Onze d'Or trophy, IFFHS World's Best Playmaker, World Soccer Player of the Year, Serie A Footballer of the Year, and FIFA World Player of the Year.

Luka Modric (2018)

The last footballer on the list and actually the only Croatian winner of Ballon d’Or trophy, indeed, to this date,

Luka Modric

is also the only footballer on the list who’s still in the business, though seemingly he’s near the end of his career. He’s currently a player of Real Madrid - he’s been with them since 2012 - and won his Ballon d’Or trophy just 3 years back in 2018.

One Ballon d’Or trophy in contest with giants like

Lionel Messi

and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have reaped all Ballon d’Or trophies since 2008 together, is worth more than one Ballon d’Or trophy if you ask us, and that is what Modric has done. He won the trophy with around 300 points in front of Cristiano Ronaldo which is something that cannot be overlooked - that year Lionel Messi was not among the top three Ballon d’Or contenders; Antoine Griezmann of France occupied the third place with 414 points.

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source: SportMob