Every player to have won the Ballon d'Or

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi poses after being awarded the the Ballon d'Or award during the 2021 Ballon d'Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on November 29, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Ballon d'Or is the ultimate individual prize in football, recognising the world's best player each year.

Presented since 1956 by France Football magazine, the award has been won by some of the biggest legends ever to grace the game.

Here, we run through each and every one of them up to 2022...

1. Stanley Matthews (1956)

Stanley Matthews looks through an album of the last 25 years before a dinner held in honour of his 25 years as a professional footballer at The National Sporting Club, 1956. (Photo by Daily Herald Archive/National Science & Media Museum/SSPL via Getty Images)

Stanley Matthews (Image credit: Getty Images)

Legendary England winger Stanley Matthews famously played on until he was 50 years old – and he was 41 when he won the inaugural Ballon d'Or.

The first player to be knighted while still playing, Matthews had become the very first recipient of the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year in 1948.

2. Alfredo Di Stefano (1957, 1959)

The soccer player Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid) in a cafe, Madrid (Spain). (Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

Alfredo Di Stefano (Image credit: Getty Images)

An undisputed icon of the game, Alfredo Di Stefano earned legendary status during a trophy-laden 11-year spell at Real Madrid.

The Argentine-born dribbling demon's two Ballon d'Or wins came in addition to eight La Liga titles and an incredible five European Cup triumphs.

3. Raymond Kopa (1958)

French soccer player Raymond Kopa. (Photo by Universal/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Raymond Kopa (Image credit: Getty Images)

The first French recipient of the Ballon d'Or, Raymond Kopa won three European Cups as a member of the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950s.

Following his death in 2017, France Football created the Kopa Trophy, which is awarded each year to the best player under 21.

4. Luis Suarez (1960)

Spanish footballer Luis Suarez, captain of the Spanish national team, in training at Roehampton ahead of an international friendly match in London, October 25th 1960. Spain are to play against England at Wembley Stadium on October 26th. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Luis Suarez (Image credit: Getty Images)

No, not that Luis Suarez. This is the legendary Spanish midfielder of the 1960s, who was the first player from his country to win the Ballon d'Or.

A Barcelona player when he received the award, he went on to spend most of his career with Inter Milan – and helped Spain to European Championship glory in 1964.

5. Omar Sivori (1961)

Omar Sivori

Omar Sivori (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Omar Sivori scooped the 1961 Ballon d'Or thanks to sublime performances for Juventus – with whom he won three Serie A titles.

Born in Argentina, he represented his birthland and Italy at international level – featuring for the latter at the 1962 World Cup.

6. Josef Masopust (1962)

Josef Masopust

Josef Masopust (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Widely regarded as the best Czech player of all time, Josef Masopust's Ballon d'Or victory coincided with Czechoslovakia's run to the 1962 World Cup final.

He spent the majority of his club career with iconic outfit Dukla Prague, later going on to coach them and the national team.

7. Lev Yashin (1963)

Lev Yashin (1929 - 1990), Goalkeeper for the Soviet Union reaches to make a save during the FIFA World Cup Semi Final match against West Germany on 25th July 1966 at the Goodison Park stadium in Liverpool, England. West Germany won the match 2- 1. (Photo by BIPPA/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Lev Yashin (Image credit: Getty Images)

Arguably the greatest there's ever been between the sticks, Lev Yashin made goalkeeping an art form throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The first 'keeper to win the Ballon d'Or, he helped the Soviet Union to glory at the inaugural European Championship in 1960, and to the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup.

8. Denis Law

Manchester United player Denis Law arrives for training. February 1969. (Photo by Sheppard/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Denis Law (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the few players to have succeeded with both Manchester United and Manchester City, Denis Law was one of the deadliest strikers of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The Lawman – who earned 30 caps for Scotland – won the Ballon d'Or before going on to enjoy domestic and European glory with United.

9. Eusebio (1965)

Eusebio de Silva of Portugal in London during the 1966 World Cup tournament. July 1966. (Photo by Daily Herald/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Eusebio (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the greatest players of all time, Eusebio won 17 major trophies with Benfica and inspired Portugal to third place at the 1966 World Cup.

And it was the year before that tournament that he claimed the ultimate individual accolade of the Ballon d'Or – in which he also finished second on two occasions.

10. Bobby Charlton (1966)

Bobby Charlton holds a full house in a game of cards with team mates (left to right) Peter Bonetti, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore. 10th July 1966. (Photo by Monte Fresco/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Bobby Charlton (Image credit: Getty Images)

1966 was quite a year for Bobby Charlton: the Manchester United legend scooped the main man in England's historic World Cup victory, then went and topped it off by winning the Ballon d'Or.

Charlton is one of an elite group of players to have won the World Cup, European Cup and Ballon d'Or – in which he was runner-up in 1967 and 1968.

11. Florian Albert (1967)

Two famous Hungarian soccer players (L-R) Florian Albert and Lajos Tichy. (Photo by Universal/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Florian Albert (left) and Lajos Tichy (Image credit: Getty Images)

Hungary's Mighty Magyars perhaps came along slightly too early for the Ballon d'Or, but they got their hands on the prize thanks to one of their finest players of the 1960s.

Legendary forward Florian Albert scored 31 goals in 75 caps for Hungary, spending his entire career with iconic Budapest club Ferencvaros.

12. George Best (1968)

Manchester United footballer George Best shows manager Sir Matt Busby his European Footballer of the Year Award at Old Trafford, 1969. (Photo by Albert Cooper/Mirror Syndication International/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

George Best (left) and Sir Matt Busby (Image credit: Getty Images)

George Best joined the growing list of Manchester United players to win the Ballon d'Or when he landed the prize in the year of the club's maiden European Cup triumph.

The flamboyant Northern Irish entertainer was a true superstar of his era and, saddeningly, arguably the greatest player never to grace the World Cup.

13. Gianni Rivera (1969)

1969 Gianni Rivera of AC Milan celebrates in Milan after winning the golden ball during the Serie A on Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images), Italy.

Gianni Rivera (Image credit: Getty Images)

Gianni Rivera represented Italy at four World Cups – scoring a famous semi-final winner at the 1970 edition, only to end up on the losing side in the final.

Nonetheless, the AC Milan great did more than enough to assure himself of legendary status among Azzurri fans, having helped his country to glory at the 1968 European Championship.

14. Gerd Muller (1970)

(GERMANY OUT) Fussball 1. Bundesliga Gerd MUELLER FC Bayern Muenchen © WEREK (Photo by Pressefoto Ulmer\ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Gerd Muller (Image credit: Getty Images)

The definition of a defender's nightmare, Gerd Muller was one of the most devastating strikers the game has ever seen, banging in more than 700 goals for club and country.

Der Bomber's Ballon d'Or win came before most of his greatest club triumphs, which included European Championship and World Cup victory with West Germany, and three European Cups with Bayern Munich.

15. Johan Cruyff (1971, 1973, 1974)

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff (Image credit: Getty Images)

The first player to get his hands on the Ballon d'Or three times, Johan Cruyff's influence on football is unparalleled – and, of course, it all began with his brilliance on the pitch.

Surely the greatest Dutch player of all time, Cruyff captained the Netherlands to the 1974 World Cup final and won three successive European Cups with Ajax at the beginning of the 1970s.

16. Franz Beckenbauer (1972, 1976)

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of a handful of players to have won the World Cup as a player and manager, Franz Beckenbauer picked up the Ballon d'Or either side of captaining West Germany to glory on home soil in 1974.

Generally considered the original sweeper, Beckenbauer also won three European Cups with Bayern Munich.

17. Oleg Blokhin (1975)

Oleg Blokhin

Oleg Blokhin (Image credit: Getty Images)

A legendary striker for Dynamo Kyiv and the Soviet Union, Oleg Blokhin won the Ballon d'Or after Dynamo triumphed in the 1974/75 Cup Winners' Cup.

He won more caps (112) and scored more goals (42) than any other player in the history of the Soviet national team, who he represented for 16 years.

18. Allan Simonsen (1977)

Allan Simonsen

Allan Simonsen (Image credit: Getty Images)

An icon of Danish football, Allan Simonsen's 1977 Ballon d'Or win came after a season in which he very nearly did the treble with Borussia Monchengladbach (falling short in the European Cup final).

The striker did win three Bundesliga titles with Gladbach, though, before going on to play for Barcelona and a brief spell in England with Charlton Athletic.

19. Kevin Keegan (1978, 1979)

31 May 1977 Wembley - England v Wales - Kevin Keegan of England. (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

Kevin Keegan (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of a select few players to win the Ballon d'Or in consecutive years, Kevin Keegan was surely England's biggest star of the 1970s.

Having won almost every piece of major silverware available with Liverpool, the superbly permed forward left for Hamburg – and duly helped them to the 1978/79 Bundesliga title.

20. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1980, 1981)

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Image credit: Getty Images)

A prolific goalscorer with 45 goals for West Germany, Karl-Heinz Rummennige's back-to-back Ballon d'Or victories came after he helped fire his country to glory at the 1980 European Championship.

The World Cup was to allude Rummennigge (he finished on the losing side in two finals), but he did win two European Cups with Bayern Munich.

21. Paolo Rossi (1982)

Soccer: FIFA World Cup 1982: Italy Paolo Rossi in action, victorious during Final against West Germany at Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid, Spain 7/11/1982 CREDIT: George Tidemann (Photo by George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (SetNumber: X27034 T12 R1 F24)

Paolo Rossi (Image credit: Getty Images)

Paolo Rossi's goals fired Italy to victory at the 1982 World Cup – and it was a truly golden year for the legendary Azzurri striker.

As well as team glory, Rossi got his hands on the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards at the tournament – with his Ballon d'Or success making him the first player to win all four of those honours in a single year.

22. Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985)

27 June 1984 European Football Championship Final - France v Spain - Captain Michel Platini walks off the pitch, leaving the other French players to continue the victory celebrations. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)

Michel Platini (Image credit: Getty Images)

The first player to win the Ballon d'Or three years running, Michel Platini was very much France's main man throughout the 1980s.

One of the all-time great playmakers, Platini was integral to Les Bleus' first major triumph at the 1984 European Championship – before winning the European Cup with Juventus the following year.

23. Igor Belanov (1986)

18 Jun 1988: Igor Belanov of the USSR during the European Championship match against England at the Waldstadion in Frankfurt, West Germany. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport

Igor Belanov (Image credit: Getty Images)

Dynamo Kyiv legend Oleg Blokhin was instrumental in the Ukrainian giants' 1985/86 Cup Winners' Cup triumph – one of six major trophies the striker won with the club.

At international level, Blokhin – who later played in the Bundesliga for Borussia Monchengladbach – would go on to help the Soviet Union to the final of the 1988 European Championship.

24. Ruud Gullit (1987)

NAPLES, ITALY - MAY 01: Ruud Gullit of AC Milan is seen prior to the Serie A match between Napoli and AC Milan at the Stadio Pao Paulo on May 1, 1988 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Ruud Gullit (Image credit: Getty Images)

Captain of the Netherlands team that became European champions in 1988, Ruud Gullit won the Ballon d'Or in a year which saw him make a career-defining move from PSV to AC Milan.

The highly versatile midfielder was a scudetto winner in his first season at Milan – with whom he would also taste European Cup glory twice.

25. Marco van Basten (1988, 1989, 1992)

25 June 1988, Munich - UEFA Euro Championship Final - Netherlands v Soviet Union - Marco van Basten of Netherlands after the match. (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

Marco van Basten (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marco van Basten's career was cruelly cut short by injury when he was just 28 – but the sensational Dutch striker still managed to get his hands on three Ballons d'Or.

The first came after he produced some inspirational performances en route to the Netherlands' Euro 88 triumph – capped off by his all-time great volley in the final against the Soviet Union.

26. Lothar Matthaus (1990)

Lothar Matthaus

Lothar Matthaus (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of a handful of players to feature at five World Cups, Lothar Matthaus enjoyed great success throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The iconic midfielder captained West Germany to victory at the 1990 World Cup – having previously won the 1980 European Championship – and won league titles with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

27. Jean-Pierre Papin (1991)

Jean-Pierre Papin

Jean-Pierre Papin (Image credit: Getty Images)

Among the most potent strikers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jean-Pierre Papin's Ballon d'Or victory came in the same year that he helped fire Marseille to the European Cup final.

The Frenchman – who scored 30 goals in 54 caps for his country – would go on to be a Champions League winner with AC Milan in 1994.

28. Roberto Baggio (1993)

Roberto Baggio holding the Ballon d'Or trophy in Paris in 1993

Roberto Baggio (Image credit: Getty Images)

In 1994, Roberto Baggio missed the penalty which lost Italy the World Cup final – but the year before, The Divine Ponytail was on top of the world as the Ballon d'Or winner.

He bagged at least 22 goals for Juventus in each campaign from 1990/91 to 1993/94, winning the 1992/93 UEFA Cup with the Bianconeri.

29. Hristo Stoichkov (1994)

16 July 1994 - FIFA World Cup - Sweden v Bulgaria - Hristo Stoitchkov of Bulgaria. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)

Hristo Stoichkov (Image credit: Getty Images)

Hristo Stoichkov is Bulgaria's greatest player of all time – and he was one of the best on the planet during the first half of the 1990s, winning the 1991/92 Champions League with Barcelona and inspiring his country to fourth place at the 1994 World Cup.

He also won the Golden Boot at the latter tournament, scoring against Argentina, Germany and Italy.

30. George Weah (1995)

George Weah and Roberto Baggio of AC Milan

George Weah (left) and Roberto Baggio (Image credit: Getty Images)

In 1995, Liberian superstar George Weah became the first African player to be awarded the Ballon d'Or.

It came after he finished as top scorer in the 1994/95 Champions League, his performances in which earned him a big switch from PSG to AC Milan – with whom he would win two Serie A titles.

31. Matthias Sammer (1996)

Matthias Sammer

Matthias Sammer (Image credit: Getty Images)

A key figure in Germany's Euro 96 success, Matthias Sammer scooped the Ballon d'Or having also won successive Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund.

The defensive midfielder would go on to play an important part in the Black and Yellows' 1996/97 Champions League triumph – before being forced to retire by injury in 1998.

32. Ronaldo (1997, 2002)

Brazil's forward Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the second goal against Germany during match 64 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea Japan final 30 June, 2002 in Yokohama, Japan. Brazil won the championship 2-0, having now won a record five World Cup titles.AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

Ronaldo (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 'original' Ronaldo helped redefine the role of the striker with devastating brilliance during the 1990s and 2000s.

O Fenomeno won his first Ballon d'Or after a prolific sole season at Barcelona – he banged in 47 goals in 49 games – and his second after top-scoring in Brazil's 2002 World Cup victory.

33. Zinedine Zidane (1998)

France's Zinedine Zidane celebrates scoring his team's second goal, during the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Brazil. France won 3-0. | Location: Saint Denis, France. (Photo by Christian Liewig/TempSport/Corbis via Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane (Image credit: Getty Images)

A hero of France's very first World Cup triumph on home soil in 1998, Zinedine Zidane is undoubtedly one of the finest players of all time.

He also claimed the FIFA World Player of the Year award in the same year he won the Ballon d'Or – and would go on to be a European champion at club and international level early the next century.

34. Rivaldo (1999)

28 Apr 1999: Rivaldo of Brazil celebrates during a match against Barcelona to commemorate the club's centenary at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain. \ Mandatory Credit: Phil Cole /Allsport

Rivaldo (Image credit: Getty Images)

Brazil's second Ballon d'Or winner in three years at the end of the 1990s, Rivaldo was tearing it up for Barcelona at the time of his victory.

He found the net 28 times in each of his first two seasons at Barca, going on to score a total of 130 goals in 235 appearances for the Catalan giants – then winning the 2002 World Cup before joining AC Milan and helping them to Champions League success.

35. Luis Figo (2000)

Luis Figo

Luis Figo (Image credit: Getty Images)

2000 brought the most controversial moment of Luis Figo's glittering career: he did the unthinkable and moved directly from Barcelona to arch-rivals Real Madrid (he got a pig's head lobbed at him for his troubles).

But the iconic Portuguese winger only went from strength to strength, winning that year's Ballon d'Or – then FIFA World Player of the Year in 2021.

36. Michael Owen (2001)

1 Sep 2001: Michael Owen of England celebrates scoring a goal during the FIFA 2002 World Cup Qualifier against Germany played at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany. England won the match 5 - 1. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport

Michael Owen (Image credit: Getty Images)

Michael Owen wasn't long into his 20s when he picked up the Ballon d'Or, but he had already firmly established himself as one of the best young players on the planet.

Persistent hamstring problems would somewhat rob him of the career he might have had, but the Liverpool and England legend was simply electric in his heyday.

37. Pavel Nedved (2003)

PARIS, FRANCE: Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved poses, 22 December 2003 in Paris, with the Ballon d'Or, prize handed out by bi-weekly France Football magazine for the 2003 European Footballer of the Year. Nedved captained Czech Republic to the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal and last season led Juventus to the Champions League final, where they lost to AC Milan on penalties, though he was suspended for that match at Old Trafford. AFP PHOTO PIERRE VERDY (Photo credit should read PIERRE VERDY/AFP via Getty Images)

Pavel Nedved (Image credit: Getty Images)

Pavel Nedved made himself a legend for both Juventus and Czech Republic, and he stands among the most fantastic footballing talents his country has ever produced.

A stylish midfielder, Nedved won the Ballon d'Or after helping Juve to the final of the 2002/03 Champions League – a competition which he's one of the best players never to win.

38. Andriy Shevchenko (2004)

MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 24: Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Inter Milan at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 24, 2004 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Andriy Shevchenko (Image credit: Getty Images)

Perhaps Ukraine's greatest player of all time, Andriy Shevchenko was one of the most feared centre-forwards in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century.

He racked up 173 goals during a seven-year spell at AC Milan, with whom he won five trophies – including the 2002/03 Champions League and 2003/04 scudetto – and found the net 14 times against bitter rivals Inter.

39. Ronaldinho (2005)

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 22: Ronaldinho of Barcelona in action during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Barcelona and Werder Bremen at the Camp Nou on November 22, 2005 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Ronaldinho (Image credit: Getty Images)

An absolute magician with the ball at his feet, Ronaldinho is undeniably one of the most entertaining players there has ever been.

Brazil's 2002 World Cup winner was at his most mesmerising during a five-year stint with Barcelona – where he won the Champions League and scored that toe-poked goal against Chelsea.

40. Fabio Cannavaro (2006)

Fabio Cannavaro of Italy and his teammates celebrate with the trophy at the end the World Cup 2006 final football game Italy and France, 09 July 2006 at Berlin stadium. Italy won the 2006 football World Cup by defeating France on penalties. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Fabio Cannavaro lifts the World Cup in 2006 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Having captained Italy to 2006 World Cup glory, Fabio Cannavaro made history by becoming the first out-and-out defender ever to win the Ballon d'Or.

One of the most-capped Italian players of all time and one of the finest centre-halves the game has seen, Cannavaro enjoyed club success at Juventus and Real Madrid – winning league titles with both, although never the Champions League.

41. Kaka (2007)

MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 03: Kaka of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Chievo Verona at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 3, 2007 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Kaka (Image credit: Getty Images)

Yet another Ballon d'Or winner from Brazil, Kaka was the best playmaker of the planet at his peak – which he spent turning it on for AC Milan, who he helped to 2006/07 Champions League success.

A 2002 World Cup winner, he later starred for Real Madrid, before returning to Milan then winding down his career by treating MLS crowds to his brilliance at Orlando City.

42. Cristiano Ronaldo (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 11: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates his side going through to the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Champions League after the UEFA Champions League 2017-18 quarter-finals (2nd leg) match between Real Madrid and Juventus at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 11 April 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Image credit: Getty Images)

In Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has played – and scored goals aplenty – for three of the most prestigious clubs in world football.

He won all of his Ballons d'Or with the latter, becoming Real's all-time leading scorer with an extraordinary record of 450 goals in 438 appearances – and winning just the four Champions League titles (having already won one with United).

43. Lionel Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021)

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 07: Lionel Messi of Barcelona watches Ballon d'Or trophy during the Press Conference with nominees for World Player of the Year and World Coach of the Year for Men's Football on January 7, 2013 at Congress House in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi (Image credit: Getty Images)

Is he the GOAT? You can have that debate among yourselves – but Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or record speaks for itself.

The first player to win the award more than three times, his multiple triumphs in football's ultimate individual prize have complemented a whole heap of team trophies – from four Champions Leagues to his historic 2022 World Cup victory as Argentina captain.

44. Luka Modric (2018)