Top 10 players with most Ballon d’Or awards

Some of the greatest players in the history of football have won this award.

Top 10 players with most Ballon d’Or awards

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 honor. France football honors 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.

Top 10 players with the most Ballon d’Or awards in football history.

The world of football has multiple awards that use multiple metrics to sum up the qualitative and quantitative superiority of a player or a certain team. Ballon d’Or, since its inception, has been the pinnacle of individual excellence.

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Among the players who have won this prestigious award, are some of the greatest for both their club and their country.

Name (country) Number of Ballon d’Ors
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (GER)2
Kevin Keegan (ENG)2
Alfredo Di Stefano (ARG, ESP)2
Ronaldo Nazario (BRA)2
Franz Beckenbauer (GER)2
Marco van Basten (NED)2
Johan Cruyff (NED)3
Michel Platini (FRA)3
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)5
Lionel Messi (ARG)8
From lowest to highest

While the players in the list give a fair idea of the sheer stature of personalities, it is not just the numbers that illustrate their dominance. Following is brief discussion on the players are their influence in the modern game.

10. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (2)

One of the most talented attacking players of his generation, Rummenigge was often lauded as a highly versatile forward, capable of playing as a second striker, winger, or flat-out center forward. His main strengths were his pace, dribbling, heading and goalscoring ability, from both close range and from outside the box. He also had a penchant for scoring in awkward situations.

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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 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.

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The forward won 11 trophies with the Reds, including three Premier League titles and one UEFA Champions League.

8. Alfredo Di Stefano (2)

Regarded as a very strong player, Di Stéfano was a powerful, quick, skillful, and prolific goalscorer, with great stamina, tactical versatility, creativity, and vision, who could play almost anywhere on the pitch. He is arguably one of the greatest dribblers ever to set foot on a pitch. He was highly proficient in using feints to get past defenders and create chances, and volleys as well as bicycle kick to score dynamic goals.

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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 Nazario (2)

Ronaldo is regarded as one of the greatest and most complete forwards of all time. He was a prolific goalscorer, and despite being more of an individualistic attacker, he was also capable of providing assists for his teammates, due to his vision, passing and crossing ability.

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He was an extremely powerful, fast, and technical player, with excellent movement, as well as being a composed finisher. Known as El Phenomeno, Ronaldo also became the youngest player to win the award.

The ‘original’ Ronaldo as many claims 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. 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.

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He won the Bundesliga five times and won the World Cup and the Euros once each with Germany. Fondly known as Der Kaiser or the King, Beckenbauer was one of the most dominant forces of his era.

5. Marco van Basten (2)

Regarded as one of the greatest and most complete strikers and players in the history of the sport, due to his prolific goalscoring and great skill set, Van Basten was dubbed the “Swan Of Utrecht” for his elegance and intelligent attacking play and was known for his penchant for scoring acrobatic goals.

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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)

Cruyff is widely seen as a revolutionary figure in the history of Ajax, Barcelona, and the Netherlands. The style of play Cruyff introduced at Barcelona later came to be known as tiki-taka, characterized by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession which was later adopted by the Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012 winning Spain national football team.

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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)

Platini is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time and is regarded as one of the finest passers in football history, as well as one of the best-ever penalty kick and free-kick specialists to have played the game. He was renowned in particular for his ball control, technical ability, dribbling skills, creativity, range of passing, and vision, despite his lack of notable physical or athletic attributes

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French football legend Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or thrice consecutively. He took the award in 1983, 1984 and 1985. 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.

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The Portuguese international won the award in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Real Madrid legend took second place six times.

1. Lionel Messi (8)

Lionel Messi is the all-time leading player with the most Ballon d’Or awards. He won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021 and 2023. 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. While 7 of his Ballon d’Or wins came during his FC Barcelona days, he won the eighth now as an Inter Miami player..

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La Pulga, as he is fondly known has probably left his eternal rival behind with his eighth Ballon d’Or as well as his win in the World Cup. He has been called by many as the best ever to grace the game.

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