Wed 01 December 2021 | 3:00

Most Ballon d'Or winners in football history

As Lionel Messi has made history by winning a seventh Ballon d'Or title, he stands two plaques clear of Ronaldo. But there are also some other superstars, claiming the prize multiple times. So let's take a look at these great players to find out if anybody has ever managed to come close to Messi?

The Paris Saint-Germain star has padded his tally in 2021, lifting his seventh France Football's prestigious prize, as he has retained the trophy he last won in 2019 by controversially edging out other

Ballon d'Or winners 2021

as the likes of

Robert Lewandowski

, Jorginho, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Ronaldo who ended up taking the other spots in the rank respectively.

While he apparently turned out to be the most decorated player in the history of the Ballon d’Or award, there has been widespread criticism of France Football's decision this year.

Because it would seem a truism that Messi has been the player of the last decade and therefore it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that there should have been others ahead of him among the

top 10 Ballon d'Or winners 2021

this year.

Robert Lewandowski's position as runner-up proved to be the most controversial of all, considering his being the favourite for the suspended 2020 Ballon d'Or and even after that, his another terrifically prolific 12 months at Bayern Munich.

Be that as it may, Messi already lifted the prize in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019, and with his winning the seventh in 2021, he is now assumed to be among the

Most Ballon d'Or winners in football history


But we have to bear in mind that the trophy just was granted to European players until 1995 and even after that, it was not until 2007 that footballers from clubs outside of Europe were eligible to participate.

It means that due to the prevention of non-European players, a Brazilian phenomenon like


was deprived of grabbing the trophy until the time that the policy was overturned in 1995.

Having this in mind, France Football who are the organizers themselves, have calculated the number of Ballon d'Or titles Pele might have won.

They amazingly announced that Pele who is the three-time World Cup winner, would have anchored seven titles to his name, had he been allowed to compete, and that, this number exactly coincide with the so-called record-breaking titles of Messi.

That is to say, while Pele would have won Ballon d'Or titles in 1970, 1964, 1963, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958, he was not officially considered to be among the most Ballon d'Or winners in football history. As a result, from a perfectionist point of view, Messi does need an eighth Ballon d'Or title to wrap things up.

Most Ballon d'Or winners in football history

Here we would delve into 10 of the legendary players, who are officially the Most Ballon d'Or winners in football history. While we have Messi at the top of the list with his seven awards, except to his rival Ronaldo, others are still miles behind him. In case you are interested to know other Ballon d'Or winners, you can probe into 

A History of One-Time Ballon d'Or Winners


Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (2 times winner-West Germany)

Müller's great performance at

Bayern Munich

as well as his role in helping West Germany to the 1980 European Championships, led him to grab his first Ballon d'Or award.

During that time, he put away 26 and 29 goals respectively in the 79/80 and 80/81 seasons. Precisely as saying, since the 1979/80 season, until his transfer to Inter Milan, he amazingly racked up 199 goals in 224 appearances.

As he went on to make Bayern Munich pick up another Bundesliga crown, he took the honour to win a Ballon d'Or award for the second time in his career in 1981.

Therefore, as one of the most Ballon d'Or winners in football history, he made his name as the greatest player of his own time.

Ronaldo (2 times winner- Brazil)

The Brazilian legend has won the Ballon d’Or award twice in his illustrious career, while he was awarded the first one in 1997 at his span with Barcelona and the second one in 2002 at his stint with Real Madrid.

As the legendary Brazilian won the Ballon d'Or award in 1997 just at the age of 21 years old, he picked up the honour to become the youngest ever winner of the prestigious trophy.

He claimed the first trophy when he put away a staggering 47 goals in 49 games in the 1996/97 season for 



Moreover, it was due to his heroic performance at the world cup, leading Brazil to a historic triumph that was awarded his second Ballon d'Or award.

Kevin Keegan (2 times winner-England)

As a true force to be reckoned with in the mid to late ‘70s, following Kevin Keegan's glorious six-year span at Liverpool at the time of their winning the first-ever European Cup victory and three First Division titles, he was transferred to Hamburg in 1977.

As he gathered his momentum in his previous club, with making excellent feats he went on to grab two consecutive Ballon d’Or titles in 1978 and 1979.

In other words, while his incredible performances in Germany earned him his first Ballon d'Or, he also put away 17 goals to take Hamburg to the Bundesliga title triumph in the 1978/79 season.

Moreover, in the light of Yugoslavian manager Branko Zebec’s appointment, he could put on show the best of himself, earning his second successive Ballon d’Or award and taking a spot among the most Ballon d'Or winners in football history.

Alfredo Di Stéfano (2 times winner-Spain)

As one of the best footballers of all time, Alfredo Di Stéfano was influential in Real Madrid's first five consecutive European Cups and therefore he received the Ballon d’Or awards, in 1957 and 1959.

In other words, with his netting 19 goals in the 1957/58 season that helped Real Madrid win La Liga, along with his agility, skilfulness, prolificness and immense stamina, he turned out to be a perfect finisher for the Spanish juggernauts, so as to be highly revered as one of the top 10 Ballon d'Or winners of all time.

Moreover, while he is Madrid’s leading goal scorer in the history of El Clásico, in 1989, Di Stefano picked up the honour to become the only footballer to ever win the Super Ballon d’Or award as well, edging out Cruyff and Platini in the final vote.

Franz Beckenbauer (2 times winner-West Germany)

As the second German and the first defender to ever win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award, Franz Beckenbauer grabbed the title first in 1972. Then he went on to pick up the award in 1976 too so as to become the only defender to win it more than once.

But what has earned him a spot among the most Ballon d'Or awards in football history is that as a terrifically skilful defender, he led Bayern Munich to grab three successive European Cups from 1974 to 1976.

In addition, he was also a member of the German national team that achieved the 1974 FIFA World Cup and 1972 UEFA European Championship.

Above all, it is to be said that he has been the one who revolutionized the art of modern defending by devising a role for libero or sweeper, while many defenders in the modern era tend to imitate his style too.

Marco van Basten (3 times winner-The Netherlands)

With making great feats at his national side the Netherlands he led them to their sole European Championship triumph in 1988, therefore he ended up grabbing his first Ballon d'Or title in that year.

As a very technical player, following that he helped Milan lift the first of consecutive European Cups, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or title in 1989 as well.

Besides, after they grabbed another European Cup, Milan went on to finish the entire league campaign unbeaten and as a result Marco van Basten earned another Ballon d'Or win in 1992.

Basten had to become retired at the age of 30 by an ankle injury during his mid-20s, but football experts speculated that he could have won his side and himself a lot more honours had he continued his professional career.

Michel Platini (3 times winner-France)

While Michel Platini won almost every triumph with


, it is no wonder to see him put away 20 goals in the 1983 season, leading Juventus to win the Serie A.

Not to mention that he helped them to retain their glory by winning back the Serie A title in 1985 as well. On the other hand, as the captain of his national side, he guided them to glory at the European Championship on home soil in 1984.

These were enough to make him the first player to win three Ballon d'Or trophies, with all three coming in successive years between 1982 and 1984.

It is notable to suggest that apart from his being included among the top 10 Ballon d'Or winners of all time, he also earned the sixth spot in the FIFA Player of The Century voting too.

Johann Cruyff (3 times winner-The Netherlands)

With lifting three Ballon d'Or trophies in 1971, 1973 and 1974, Johann Cruyff not only became one of the

most Ballon d'Or winners in football history

, but also he was the first player to ever win the award on three occasions.

To be specific, he rose to prominence during his span at Ajax when he put away 25 goals and performed spectacularly in the 1971/72 season, handing Ajax the Eredivisie.

He also went on to help them three-peat European Cup victories between 1971 and 1973, so as to grab his first two Ballon d'Or awards.

Moreover, prior to joining Barcelona, his significant role in the Netherlands' famed 'total football' team has made him grab his third trophy in 1974.

With his contribution to Ajax and Spain’s Barcelona, he stabilized his spot among the most Ballon d'Or winners in football history as he proved to be among the most influential footballers of his own era too.

Cristiano Ronaldo (5 times winner-Portugal)

For the first time in his career, Ronaldo was among the top three to win the Ballon door award, but he ended up taking the second spot behind AC Milan icon


that year.

The following year, Ronaldo managed to realize his dream as he lifted the trophy for the first time in 2008, in his span at Manchester United.

Afterwards, he did not grab the award for a number of years until he became the winner in 2014, 2016 and 2017 at his stint with Real Madrid in a back and forth incredible rivalry against Messi.

At the age of 36, while the Portuguese striker is more than two years older than his long time rival Messi, he has still anchored five Ballon d'Or titles to his name and he has not won the trophy since 2017.

He also ended up grabbing the sixth spot among the Ballon d'Or winners 2021 and unfortunately for him, it was the first time he appeared to be outside the top three places since 2010, but nobody denies that with grabbing 5 Ballon d'Or trophies he is arguably one of the

top 10 Ballon d'Or winners of all time


Although he was absent from the 2021 award ceremony, his contest with Messi was not, because, on his Instagram account, he reproached the comment of France Football’s editor in chief, Pascal Ferré, in an interview with The New York Times about the award’s prestige. Here is the comment:

“Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me.”

However, Ronaldo renounced what he had commented, indicating that Ferré lied and used his name to promote himself and the publication he works for.

Lionel Messi (7 times winner-Argentina)

What has landed Messi the first position among the top 10 Ballon d'Or winners 2021 is the fact that during his glorious football career, he had never won an international trophy with his national team.

Thereby this had cast doubt whether he would be considered as soccer’s greatest ever player or not especially when his rivals like Pelé and Ronaldo had all dazzled in their national sides.

Hence as Ángel Di María’s goal in the earlier Copa América had earned Argentina its first international award since 1993, Messi became ever more eligible to achieve the spot #1 among the Ballon d'Or winners 2021.


Messi Ballon d'Or


has been granted to him in 2021, following that he grabbed the Copa America with Argentina earlier this year, notwithstanding his rather less impressive span at the club level.

To be specific, with netting two goals for Barca, they ended up winning the Copa del Rey final while he became La Liga’s top goalscorer once more before he was switched to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

As a result these have made him qualified to take Messi Ballon d'Or tally to record-breaking seventh awards, so as to grab the first position among the

Most Ballon d'Or winners in football history


He earned his first Ballon d’Or award in 2009 after that he had finished second behind Ronaldo in the previous year. This was the first of four in a row he would claim to establish dominance in his epic rivalry with Ronaldo.

Afterwards, he lost out to Ronaldo in 2013 and 2014 until he earned the first position again the next year. He had to wait until 2015 for his fifth trophy, while his sixth came along in 2019.


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source: SportMob

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