Top 10 countries with the most Ballon d’Or winners in history

The last edition of the award was won by Lionel Messi in 2021.

It was not until 1995 that the France Football association renounced its policy of including non-European players playing in Europe who were also eligible for the prestigious Ballon d’Or. The idea of ​​such an honor was launched in 1956 by the editor-in-chief of France Football magazine. Renowned journalists could only vote for European players actively playing in Europe. Such an accolade eliminated the early possibility of players like Diego Maradona or Pele becoming Ballon d’Or winners.

Despite a late start, the soccer-rich continent of South America has made impressive strides to climb to the top. Where are the other countries? Let’s find out.

10. Spain – 3

Alfredo Di Stefano with his second Ballon d’Or (Courtesy Real Madrid)

Spain won two Ballon d’Ors in the 1960s. The first Spaniard to win the award was the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano in 1957, who reclaimed the honor again two years later.

This may seem confusing – at first, for those who know that Di Stefano was Argentine by birth. But the Real Madrid legend adopted Spain as his nationality in 1956, becoming eligible to contest the award.

The last Spaniard to receive the Ballon d’Or was Barcelona legend Luis Suarez (the other) in 1960. The attacking midfielder played for the Culers from 1955 to 1961. That’s well over half a century ago, no Spaniard has won the award since then.

9. Soviet Union – 3

The Soviet Union was an active member of FIFA until it was dissolved into smaller nations in 1991. It’s no surprise that before the split, the Soviet Union had three players who won the price of this long-lost nation.

The first player to win the Ballon d’Or in 1963 was Lev Yashin! Lev Yashin is considered the best goalkeeper in the history of this sport. He remains the only goalkeeper to achieve this remarkable feat as since then no goalkeeper has been as impressive as him. The next group of players to win this award was more than a decade apart as Oleg Blokhin won it in 1975 and Igor Belanov claimed the award in 1986. Both were honored playing for Dynamo Kyiv , now a Ukrainian football club. On the other hand, Yashin won it while keeping the sticks at Dynamo Moscow.

8. England – 5

Stanley Matthews of Blackpool became the first recipient of the honour, becoming the first Englishman, in the process, to create a heirloom line. He won the award with 47 points, while Di Stéfano missed out with his 45. After 1956, England had to wait a decade until Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton became the second English to win the prize. Kevin Keegan won back-to-back Ballon d’Ors in 1978 and 1979 while playing for Hamburg away from home.

Keegan, the former Newcastle manager, earned his stripes playing for Liverpool. However, he won the award during his time at the German side. So it was only fitting that an active Red would win the honor later in the form of another Englishman – Michael Owen, who got the commemoration for his outstanding skills in 2001.

7. Brazil – 5

One of the most popular nations to watch is Brazil’s exceptionally skilled team. It’s only natural that they have a long roster after gaining eligibility nearly four decades later. They are catching up quite remarkably and are already in seventh position.

Ronaldo became the first Brazilian in 1997 to win the award, two years after securing eligibility. R9 was one of the best strikers of that era, and at Internazionale he was a force of calculation. His dominance continued in Spain as he won his second and the country‘s third Ballon d’Or in 2002 while playing for Real Madrid. His efforts during Brazil’s World Cup campaign also played a significant role in his appointment.

Ronaldo was the first Brazilian to win the Ballon d’Or (Courtesy Marca)

Barcelona bragged about their Brazilian players in this era when Rivaldo and Ronaldinho won the award in 1999 and 2005. The last Selecao player to win the Ballon d’Or was Kaka in 2007 while playing for AC Milano. The four magicians who presented the prize to the South American nation were part of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning squad. After Kaka, the prize became a horse race for the next 10 years.

6. Italy – 5

Italy had five different winners to receive the coveted prize. The tally of wins began with Juventus’ Omar Sivori in 1961. In the same decade, in 1969, AC Milan’s Gianni Rivera scored twice for Italy.

The Old Lady’s luck struck again as the next two Italians to win the prize were also Juventus players. The first of these two was Paolo Rossi in 1982, followed by Roberto Baggio in 1993. Fabio Cannavaro, who was a reliable candidate in the Juventus defense, won the award in 2006. The victory was hailed by the football fraternity , as it was difficult for defenders to outplay attackers in pocketing the prize.

5. France – 6

The prize of the France Football association has been won six times by four French people. The award is best known in the 20th century for Michel Platini’s hat-trick of consecutive wins in 1983, 1984 and 1985. He earned all three wins while playing for Juventus.

Although Platini won the most as a Frenchman, he was preceded by Raymond Kopa, who first won the award as a Real Madrid player in 1958. Needless to mention France produced some of the talent most iconic footballs of the 90s.

In 1991, Jean-Pierre Papin from Marseille won the Ballon d’Or. He is the only player to have received the Ligue 1 award. The last Frenchman was the legendary Zinedine Zidane in 1998. He was also a Juventus player, like most of this list.

4. Argentina – 7

Lionel Messi with his award in 2021 (Courtesy Associated Press)

Perhaps Lionel Messi will forever be the most impressive record holder to have won the Ballon d’Or seven times single-handedly for his country. As was the case with Brazil, Argentina also suffered from the same ineligibility until 1995. Thus, several greats of their World Cup-winning team, the most obvious being Diego Maradona, did not win. the price, despite being the best on this team. time.

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Messi has become a living legend for this generation while playing at Barcelona. His rivalry with his Real Madrid counterpart, Cristiano Ronaldo, has made the competition exclusive between these two men. It should be noted that Messi has the same number of solo awards won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021 as the country with the most winners. He still has a few more years in his tank to bring his nation to the top of this list.

3.Portugal – 7

Although Cristiano Ronaldo contributed five of those seven figures, Portugal were blessed with diversity among their winners, unlike Argentina. Ronaldo’s wins in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, coupled with Eusebio’s triumph in 1965 and Luis Figo’s victory in 2000, put the country third in this metric.

Ronaldo won the first while playing in England for Manchester United, and the others at Real Madrid. Eusebio’s award came while he was playing for Portuguese giants Benfica. Luis Figo, meanwhile, won the prestigious award while playing for Los Blancos.

2. Netherlands – 7

Seven Ballon d’Or awards have been shared between three of the greatest playmakers. While playing for Ajax and later Barcelona, ​​the legendary Johan Cruyff became the first Dutchman to win the award three times in 1971, 1973 and 1974. He was the first to win it three times.

In 1987, Milan’s Ruud Gullit won the Ballon d’Or to become the second Dutchman in the line. Marco van Basten also scored a hat trick when he received the honor in 1988, 1989 and 1992. He became the third player to win the award three times after Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini.

1. Germany – 7

In 1970, Gerd Muller became the first German player to win the Ballon d’Or (Courtesy FC Bayern)

Five different German players won the unique Dutch three player award. Germany’s unreal tally began with legendary Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller in 1970. Two years later, another Bayern player won the award as Franz Beckenbauer received his first. His second came in 1976.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge dominated in the early 1980s winning two consecutive Ballons d’Or in 1980 and 1981. Notably, Rummenigge was also a Bayern Munich player. For a change, another recipient Lothar Matthaus won it while playing for Internazionale in 1990. The last German to win the accolade was Matthias Sammer, who received the same in 1996 for an incredible season at Borussia Dortmund.

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