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Footballers with Most FIFA World Player of the Year Awards Won

Sat 13 November 2021 | 11:30

FIFA World Player of the Year award, as its name suggests, is a criterion which determines the best player in the world in a given year. It’s been awarded since 1991 with some changes to it in 2010 and 2016 that we’re going to let you know about below.

In 2010, FIFA World Player of the Year award merged with the most famous of football awards, Ballon d’Or, under the name of FIFA Ballon d'Or, and until 2015, the top footballer in the world was awarded a FIFA Ballon d'Or instead of FIFA World Player of the Year or Ballon d’Or, in fact, by the same issuers: FIFA and France Football magazine.

However, that changed again in 2016 as the two awards unmerged with Ballon d’Or being awarded as usual and FIFA World Player of the Year award changing its name to Best FIFA Football award, known also as Best FIFA Men's Player award.

FIFA Best Player Awards List

Below is a

FIFA Best Player awards

list which includes the top players who have won the most number of FIFA World Player of the Year awards, FIFA Ballon d'Or trophies, and Best FIFA Football awards altogether. We have taken into account all the three awards mentioned above since the nature of all of them is the almost the same: They were or have been awarded to the best player in the world who has performed the best based on the votes from coaches, captains of international teams, and media representatives.

However, at the end, we’ll also let you know which players have won the most number of FIFA World Player of the Year awards, FIFA Ballon d'Or trophies, and Best FIFA Football awards, separately as an award. And about

FIFA world player of the year in 2021

- let’s call it Best FIFA Football award in 2021, that’s not yet decided, but as soon as it is, we’ll let you know in this post. Well, let’s get to see who is FIFA best player of all time!

Lionel Messi (6 Awards)

If you take only the number of FIFA World Player of the Year awards won, then it is not Messi but Zinedine Zidane who tops the list - the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won we mean, however, as we mentioned above, the other two awards, namely FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football award, have also been taken into consideration which means Lionel Messi of Argentina is

FIFA best player of all time

with a total of 6 FIFA World Player of the Year awards won.

In truth, from all these 6 awards, only one is an actual FIFA World Player of the Year award which

Messi

won in 2009. The rest 5 awards are made up of 4 FIFA Ballon d'Or trophies and one Best FIFA Football award which Messi won in 2019. From the 4 FIFA Ballon d'Or trophies Messi won 3 were consecutive and were won in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and the other remaining trophy Messi won in 2015.

When Messi won his first FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009 and his first FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 he was not more than 22 and only 5 years into serving Barcelona. He also managed to finish second twice in 2007 and 2008 editions of FIFA World Player of the Year award. In 2013 and 2014, Messi finished second in FIFA Ballon d'Or contest and in 2016 and 2017 also second but in Best FIFA Football award contest, and in all four times behind Cristiano Ronaldo who finished first. Is Messi going to become FIFA world Player of the year in 2021? Maybe not, Firstly because of his age (34) and secondly because it’s been sometime we haven’t seen a brilliant performance from him. However, we should wait and see who becomes FIFA world Player of the year in 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo (5 Awards)

The second footballer on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won or actually the second FIFA best player of all time,

Cristiano Ronaldo

has won 5 FIFA World Player of the Year awards, however, just like Messi, only one of these awards is an actual FIFA World Player of the Year award which the 36-year-old Portuguese forward won in 2008. The other four are made up of 2 FIFA Ballon d'Or trophies and 2 Best FIFA Football awards which Ronaldo won in 2013 and 2014, and in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

There’s a nice relationship between Messi and Ronaldo on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won, and that is in most years that one of these two has finished first the other has finished second and vice versa. That shows, if you ask us, the award being it FIFA World Player of the Year, FIFA Ballon d'Or, or Best FIFA Football award was handed between these two for some time - actually for seven years between 2010 and 2017 - demonstrating their undisputable superiority over other top players in the world in the same period. Well, getting back to Ronaldo, we should say that the top Portuguese forward also finished second and third in FIFA World Player of the Year contest in 2009, and 2007, respectively.

Zinedine Zidane (3 Awards)

If we don’t take FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football awards won by top players during the years these two awards replaced FIFA World Player of the Year award into consideration, then

Zinedine Zidane

will top the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won with 3 of the same award he reaped in 1998, 2000, and 2003. He also finished second once in 2006 and twice in 1997 and 2002.

Again if we don’t take FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football award into consideration, then Zinedine Zidane will top the list of

footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards

won concerning the number of times finished first, second, and third altogether. He has actually finished first three times, second once, and third twice which sums up to seven times which is more than the sum of the times each footballer on the list has finished first, second, and third in the FIFA contest. It should also be mentioned here that Zidane also won a Ballon d'Or trophy - not FIFA Ballon d'Or - in 1998 and three Onze d'Or trophies - a football award given by the French magazine Onze Mondial since 1976 - in 1998, 2000, and 2001.

Ronaldo (3 Awards)

Ronaldo

but not Cristiano Ronaldo! He’s the Brazilian Ronaldo who managed to win 3 FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1996, 1997, and 2002 - close to Zinedine Zidane concerning the years he won the prize - and finish fourth on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won and second on the same list if we don’t take FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football awards given away after 2010 into account.

Ronaldo also finished second in 1998 and third in 2003 - the years Zidane finished first - in the FIFA contest. So, the sum of the times he finished first, second, and third is five which is two behind Zidane’s sum. Just like Zidane, Ronaldo also managed to win both Ballon d'Or and Onze d'Or trophies during his footballing time; actually two Ballon d'Or trophies in 1997 and 2002, and two Onze d'Or trophies in the same years. He’s also the winner of two Bravo awards - a football award given by the Italian magazine, Guerin Sportivo, to the most brilliant young footballer playing in European leagues - in 1997 and 1998.

Ronaldinho (2 Awards)

Isn’t that Ronaldinho whose property was confiscated due to legal issues?! He is, but here we are to his FIFA awards not legal issues. Well, Ronaldinho won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2004 and 2005, never finished as second and finished third once in 2006. So altogether, the number of times he finished as first, second, and third sums up to 3 times putting him on the third position on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won if we don’t take FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football awards into account, and on the fifth place on the same list if we take the above-mentioned awards into account. Ronaldinho is also the winner of one Ballon d'Or and one Onze d'Or trophy both in 2005.

Luis Figo (1 Award)

Occupying the 6th position on the list of

footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards

won, Luis Figo is a 49-year-old retired Portuguese midfielder who managed to win one FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2001 and finish second in 2000; the same year that he won his Ballon d'Or trophy. He also won a Golden Foot in 2011 to be recognized as a football legend. It should be mentioned here that from this point on, all the footballers on the list have won only 1 award, being it FIFA World Player of the Year award, FIFA Ballon d'Or, or Best FIFA Football award.

Romario (1 Award)

Another Brazilian footballer on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won,

Romario

is a 55-year-old retired footballer who was known as a prolific goalscorer during his  footballing time. He actually scored 693 goals in 893 club appearances which translates to almost 1.5 goals in every 2 appearances. Despite his brilliant performance, Romario won only one FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1994, finished second in the FIFA contest in 1993, and never won a Ballon d'Or trophy, though he managed to win one Onze d'Or trophy in the same year that he won his FIFA award, 1994.

George Weah (1 Award)

The only African footballer on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won, George Weah is a 55-year-old retired footballer and current politician who played for the top European clubs,

AC Milan

, PSG, and Manchester City, sometime during his career. He won FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1995 and in the same year he also won a Ballon d'Or and an Onze d'Or trophy. And in the next year, 1996, although he finished second in the FIFA World Player of the Year contest, he was named African Player of the Century by IFFHS.

Roberto Baggio (1 Award)

The great Roberto Baggio is also a one-time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year award. He won the prize in 1993 and in the next year, 1994, he finished third in the FIFA contest. Also in 1995, he finished on the fifth place in the same contest. Baggio also won a Ballon d'Or and an Onze d'Or trophy in the same year that he won FIFA World Player of the Year award (1993). 3 years before that in 1990, Baggio had finished on the 8th place in the contest for Ballon d'Or while in 1994 he finished on the 2nd place. He’s also the winner of three Onze de Onze awards - another football award given away by a French magazine, named Onze Modnial - in 1993, 1994, and 1995.

Rivaldo (1 Award)

Yet another Brazilian footballer on the list of

footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards

won, Rivaldo is a 49-year-old retired footballer who played for more than 10 clubs during his career the most prominent of which are Barcelona and AC Milan.

Rivaldo

won a FIFA World Player of the Year award, a Ballon d'Or, and an Onze d'Or trophy all in 1999. In 2000, he finished third in the FIFA contest and was named World's top goal scorer by IFFHS with the 21 goals he scored for Barcelona in the same year.

Lothar Matthaus (1 Award)

So far, he is the only German footballer who has won a FIFA World Player of the Year award in the history of the prize. We mean no other German footballer, except for Matthaus, has won either a FIFA World Player of the Year award or a FIFA Ballon d'Or or a Best FIFA Football award up until this date (2021). Matthaus won his FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1991 and a year before that in 1990 he had won a Ballon d'Or and an Onze d'Or trophy and had been named World's Best Player by IFFHS and Germany Footballer of the Year. Matthaus alongside Fabio Cannavaro are the only defensive players who have managed to win a FIFA World Player of the Year award since the prize launch in 1991 up to this date (2021) and that means nothing but brilliance!

Marco van Basten (1 Award)

Just like Lothar Matthaus who is the only German winner of FIFA World Player of the Year award up to this date (2021), Marco van Basten is also the only Dutch winner of the same award to this date. He actually won his FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1992 but never finished second or third in the FIFA contest in later years, however, he managed to win three Ballon d'Or trophies in 1988, 1989, and 1992; what is only surpassed by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won. He also won two Onze d'Or trophies and was named World's Best Player by IFFHS in 1988 and 1989.

Fabio Cannavaro (1 Award)

The other defensive player alongside Lothar Matthaus to have won a FIFA World Player of the Year award,

Fabio Cannavaro

is a 48-year-old retired Italian footballer who served top European clubs, Real Madrid and Juventus, sometime during his career. Other than the FIFA World Player of the Year award Cannavaro won in 2006, he also managed to win a Ballon d'Or trophy and the FIFA World Cup Silver Ball in the same year, but no Onze d'Or or similar trophies in that or later years. And you know what winning a Ballon d'Or trophy mean for a defender: Excellence!

Kaka (1 Award)

2007 was actually the year in which Kaka bloomed! The 39-year-old retired Brazilian footballer not only won a FIFA World Player of the Year award in this year but also won his only Ballon d'Or and Onze d'Or trophies and his FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball plus that he was named Serie A Footballer of the Year, FIFPro World Player of the Year and IFFHS World's Best Playmaker and became UEFA Champions League top scorer and FIFA Club World Cup top assist provider in the same year.

Luka Modric (1 Award) 

Although Modric has not officially won a FIFA World Player of the Year award, he won one Best FIFA Football award in 2018 which in some sources is also called FIFA Ballon d'Or. Other than that, the 36-year-old Croatian footballer never won another Best FIFA Football or Ballon d'Or award and also never finished as second or third in the contest for any of these awards, yet winning one of these award even once is a great achievement for any footballer plus that Modric won a FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball in 2017 and a FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in 2018 and was named World's Best Playmaker by IFFHS in the same year.

Robert Lewandowski (1 Award)

The great Polish goalscorer of Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski, has also managed to win a Best FIFA Football award and in 2020. Just like Modric, he has also never finished as second or third in the Best FIFA Football award or in the other two FIFA awards, FIFA Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award. Lewandowski won FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball and was named World's Best Man Player and World's Best Top Goal Scorer by IFFHS in the same year that he won his Best FIFA Football award (2020).

A Few More Considerations

Well, to this point we covered all the footballers who won or have won at least once one of the three FIFA awards, FIFA World Player of the Year, FIFA Ballon d'Or, and Best FIFA Football award, which, in nature, are the same, in fact. Some of these footballers also had finished second or third in the contest for one of the above-mentioned awards which we also covered. However, what we should also mention here is that there have been top footballers who although never won one of the above-mentioned awards, they managed to finish second or third at least once in the contest for them. Here is a brief list of those who finished second at least once:

  • Hristo Stoichkov, finished second twice in 1992 and 1994

  • David Beckham, finished second twice in 1999 and 2001

  • Thierry Henry, finished second twice in 2003 and 2004

  • Jean-Pierre Papin, finished second once in 1991

  • Paolo Maldini, finished second once in 1995

  • Roberto Carlos, finished second once in 1997

  • Oliver Kahn, finished second once in 2002

  • Frank Lampard, finished second once in 2005

  • Andres Iniesta, finished second once in 2010

Virgil van Dijk

, finished second once in 2019

The Winners of the Classic FIFA World Player of the Year Award

Well, if we don’t take FIFA Ballon d'Or and Best FIFA Football awards given away into account, or in other words, only consider those footballers who won FIFA World Player of the Year award between 1991 and 2009, then the list of footballers with most FIFA World Player of the Year awards won will change as follows:

  • Zinedine Zidane, Winner: 3 times in 1998, 2000, and 2003, 2nd Place: Once in 2006, 3rd Place: Twice in 1997 and 2002

  • Ronaldo, Winner: 3 times in 1996, 1997, and 2002, 2nd Place: Once in 1998, 3rd Place: Once in 2003

  • Ronaldinho, Winner: 2 times in 2004 and 2005, 3rd Place: Once in 2006

  • Lionel Messi, Winner: Once in 2009, 2nd Place: Twice in 2007 and 2008

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Winner: Once in 2008, 2nd Place: Once in 2009, 3rd Place: Once in 2007

  • Luis Figo, Winner: Once in 2001, 2nd Place: Once in 2000

  • Romario, Winner: Once in 1994, 2nd Place: Once in 1993

  • George Weah, Winner: Once in 1995, 2nd Place: Once in 1996

  • Roberto Baggio, Winner: Once in 1993, 3rd Place: Once in 1994

  • Rivaldo, Winner: Once in 1999, 3rd Place: Once in 2000

  • Lothar Matthaus, Winner: Once in 1991

  • Marco van Basten, Winner: Once in 1992

  • Fabio Cannavaro, Winner: Once in 2006

  • Kaka, Winner: Once in 2007

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source: SportMob

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