The Ballon d'Or is a prominent individual award for soccer players awarded annually by the French weekly magazine France Football. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious individual soccer honors. It has been given since 1956, yet between 2010 and 2015, it was briefly amalgamated with the FIFA World Player of the Year (established in 1991) and dubbed the FIFA Ballon d'Or. 

The collaboration ended in 2016, and the prize was renamed the Ballon d'Or, while FIFA created its own yearly award, The Best FIFA Men's Player. Both award organizations evaluate the winners of the combined FIFA Ballon d'Or. From 1956 through 2006, the Ballon d'Or award, created by sports writer Gabriel Hanot, honors the male player judged to have played the best during the preceding year, based on votes by soccer writers.

Coaches and captains of national teams were given the ability to vote to start in 2007. Originally, it was called the European Footballer of the Year award since it was exclusively given to European players. In 2007, the award was elevated to a worldwide honor, and all professional players from across the world were eligible.



List of all-time Ballon d'Or winners

While playing for Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain, Lionel Messi holds the record for most wins with seven, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo with five (one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid). Johan Cruyff of Ajax and Barcelona, Michel Platini of Juventus, and Marco van Basten of Milan are the only three players who have won the award three times apiece. Players from the Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal have won the most Ballons d'Or, with seven apiece.

Players from Germany and the Netherlands were the only ones to take all three top spots in the same year, with German and especially Italian clubs accomplishing the feat, including two years with only Milan players, a record that stood until Spanish clubs experienced an unexpected dominance and Barcelona became the second club with three top players.

As part of their continuous rivalry, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominated the FIFA Ballon d'Or in each of the last six editions.
Messi, who played for Barcelona, won the Ballon d'Or for the first time in 2010 and went on to win it three times in a row in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In the next two years, Ronaldo, who was a member of Real Madrid, won many trophies. With twelve and eleven titles, respectively, two Spanish teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid lead the standings for most winners.

Player Number of awards Year
Lionel Messi 7 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo 5 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Marco van Basten 3 1988, 1989, 1992
Michel Platini 3 1983, 1984, 1985
Johan Cruyff 3 1971, 1973, 1974
Ronaldo Nazario 2 1997, 2002
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge 2 1980, 1981
Kevin Keegan 2 1978, 1979
Franz Beckenbauer 2 1972, 1976
Alfredo Di Stefano 2 1957, 1959
Luka Modric 1 2018
Kaka 1 2007
Fabio Cannavaro 1 2006
Ronaldinho 1 2005
Andriy Shevchenko 1 2004
Pavel Nedved 1 2003
Michael Owen 1 2001
Luis Figo 1 2000
Rivaldo 1 1999
Zinedine Zidane 1 1998
Matthias Sammer 1 1996
George Weah 1 1995
Hristo Stoichkov 1 1994
Roberto Baggio 1 1993
Jean-Pierre Papin 1 1991
Lothar Matthaus 1 1990
Ruud Gullit 1 1987
Igor Belanov 1 1986
Paolo Rossi 1 1982
Allan Simonsen 1 1977
Oleg Blokhin 1 1975
Gerd Müller 1 1970
Gianni Rivera 1 1969
George Best 1 1968
Florian Albert 1 1967
Bobby Charlton 1 1966
Eusebio 1 1965
Denis Law 1 1964
Lev Yashin 1 1963
Josef Masopust 1 1962
Omar Sivori 1 1961
Luis Suarez 1 1960
Raymond Kopa 1 1958
Stanley Matthews 1 1956