Only two players have won the prestigious award more than three times.
Among many awards that an individual can win, the Ballon d’Or is one of the most prestigious ones. A player that performs exceptionally in a calendar year receives this grand honour. France football honours individuals with this award after voting from journalists as well. Football has seen some incredible players play the sport over the years. They have won this award multiple times while winning it once is a major achievement in itself.
Only the best players in the world have the quality to stake a claim to win the prestigious award. The Ballon d’Or was earlier given to European players and then it extended to players that were part of clubs in the continent. However, from 2007 onwards, the purview of the awards covers all corners of the world where every player is eligible.
The winner of the 2021 edition was Lionel Messi and he has won the award the most number of times. However, it makes for an interesting look as to how many times he has won the Ballon d’Or as compared to other players. Here is a look at the top 10 players with the most Ballon d’Or awards in football history:
10. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – 2
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is an FC Bayern Munich and German legend. He won the Ballon d’Or award twice. His first award win was in 1980 and the second in 1981. The three-time Bundesliga top-scorer also won two league titles, two European club championships (UCL) and one UEFA Euro title with the German national team.
9. Kevin Keegan – 2
Kevin Keegan is a Liverpool club legend who also played for England national team. He is a two-time Ballon d’Or winner in 1978 and 1979. The forward won 11 trophies with the Reds, including three Premier League titles and one UEFA Champions League (formerly known as European Champions Clubs’ Cup).
8. Alfredo Di Stefano – 2
Regarded as one of the most lethal forwards Spain has ever seen, Alfredo Di Stefano passed away in 2014. The legendary striker won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959. He won the UCL five times with Real Madrid in addition to winning the Spanish league eight times with the club. He also won the golden boot five times in La Liga.
7. Ronaldo – 2
The ‘original’ Ronaldo as many claim popularly, won the Ballon d’Or twice as well. He won the prestigious award in 1997 and 2002. His performance at the 2002 FIFA World Cup was crucial in helping Brazil lift the trophy. Regarded as a legendary striker, he commands huge respect in the world of football. The two-time World Cup-winning Brazilian is one of the few players to play for both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in his time.
6. Franz Beckenbauer – 2
Franz Beckenbauer, also known as the father of the sweeper defender role, is a legendary figure in world football. The former German national player won the Ballon d’Or in 1972 and 1976. He played extensively for FC Bayern Munich, winning the Champions League three times. He won the Bundesliga five times and won the World Cup and the Euros once each with Germany.
5. Marco van Basten – 3
Marco van Basten is one of the five players to win the Ballon d’Or three or more times. The legendary footballer from the Netherlands won it back in 1988, 1989 and 1992. He won one UEFA Euro trophy with the Dutch national team and two Champions League titles with AC Milan.
4. Johan Cruyff – 3
Johan Cruyff demands huge respect in the world of football. He was at the centre of promoting the “Total Football” philosophy which revolutionised football and impacts it even today. The Dutch legend won the European club trophy thrice with Ajax. He also won the Dutch Eredivisie nine times and the Spanish La Liga once with FC Barcelona. In terms of the Ballon d’Or award, Cruyff won it in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
3. Michel Platini – 3
French football legend Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or thrice consecutively. He took the award in 1983, 1984 and 1985. One of the best midfielders of his generation, Platini won one UEFA Euro with France, one UCL and two Serie A league titles with Juventus. He was also the President of UEFA until 2015.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 5
Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or a total of five times. In fact, Lionel Messi and Ronaldo won the award a combined 12 out of 13 times between 2008 and 2021. In this era, the Ballon d’Or was a two-horse race between these two legends of the game. The Portuguese international won the award in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. He took second place six times.
1. Lionel Messi – 7
Lionel Messi is the all-time leading player with most Ballon d’Or awards. He has won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021. Among his long list of achievements, this is perhaps the most impressive. It is a record that may never get broken due to Messi’s longevity and consistency at the top level. All of his Ballon d’Or wins came during his FC Barcelona days and the Argentine is yet to win one while representing Paris Saint-Germain.