We witnessed a lot of controversies last year when the prestigious Ballon d’Or got cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Robert Lewandowski was the clear frontrunner with staggering scoring records as well as both Champions League and Bundesliga triumphs, but the Polish hitman might face stiff competition this term after Lionel Messi’s Copa America mastery.
This award is presented annually by the famous French outlet France Football. 1956 was the inaugural year when Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews surpassed Real Madrid duo Alfredo Di Stefano and Raymond Kopa to conquer the silverware. However, Di Stefano and Kopa went on to win it in the following years.
Ballon d’Or has eventually become a battle between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since 2008. While the Argentine has won it 6 times so far, Ronaldo is not far behind either with 5 awards to his name. These two icons are leading the tally and running duopoly even in their mid-thirties.
Which Nation Has Won The maximum Ballon d’Or
Although it’s a personal achievement, Germany, Portugal and Netherlands have the most number of Ballon d’Or trophies (7 each). None other than Messi has clinched it for La Albiceleste and the White and Sky Blues, therefore, are second in the standings alongside France with 6 wins altogether.
Eusébio and Luis Figo have won it for Portugal other than Ronaldo. Johan Cruyff (3), Marco Van Basten (3) and Ruud Gullit are the Dutch recipients of this reward.
Germany and Italy have five individual winners – the most among all the countries. Omar Sìvori, Gianni Rivera, Paolo Rossi, Roberto Baggio and Fabio Cannavaro have won it once each for the Azzurri, whereas Franz Beckenbauer (2), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (2), Gerd Müller, Lothar Matthäus and Matthias Sammer grabbed the glory for Die Mannschaft.
Interesting Facts About Ballon d’Or
There are some fascinating facts about this ‘Golden Ball’. It was rechristened as FIFA Ballon d’Or when the governing body of the game made an agreement with France football to merge Ballon d’Or with the FIFA World Player of the Year. The merger took place in 2010 but continued for six years only before reverting to the previous format from 2016 onwards.
Previously, the best player was decided based on voting by the football journalists. The format altered a bit since 2007 though when coaches and captains of all footballing nations were made eligible to cast their votes.
Luka Modric is the most recent winner (2019) as the Croatian became the only player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win it in the past 12 years.
While the award was predominantly for the European footballers since its inception, a change of rule was applied in 1995 that included all the players featuring in Europe as potential candidates. Liberian legend George Weah made history in that very year by becoming the first-ever non-European individual to lift this esteemed accolade. The former AC Milan great is still the only African recipient of Ballon d’Or.