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Ballon d’Or: A Prestigious History of Football’s Top Honor Since 1956

Ballon d'Or Winners

The Ballon d’Or is football’s most coveted individual accolade, awarded annually by France Football magazine to recognize the best performing player over the previous year. Instituted in 1956, the Ballon d’Or has a rich history of honoring legendary talents.

Early Years Marked by Stars Like Matthews, Di Stefano and Yashin

The first Ballon d’Or was awarded in 1956 to England’s Stanley Matthews, acknowledging his instrumental role in Blackpool’s FA Cup triumph. In the early years, giants like Alfredo Di Stefano and Raymond Kopa of Real Madrid, as well as Lev Yashin, dominated, winning multiple Ballons d’Or. This era established the award’s prestige.

1970s and 1980s Saw English Stars Like Best, Keegan and Platini Shine

The 1970s witnessed English legends like George Best and Kevin Keegan honored with the Ballon d’Or for theirattacking exploits. The ’80s belonged to French maestro Michel Platini, who astonishingly won three straight Ballon d’Ors between 1983-1985 with Juventus.

Messi and Ronaldo’s Supremacy in the Modern Era

The last 15 years have seen an incredible duopoly with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning 13 of the last 15 Ballons d’Or. Their brilliance has lifted the award’s stature even higher. Messi first won it in 2009, just 5 years into his career. In 2021, Messi won his record 7th Ballon d’Or.

Benzema’s 2022 Triumph Breaks Messi-Ronaldo Dominance

In 2022, Karim Benzema finally won the Ballon d’Or in reward for a magnificent season with Real Madrid, breaking Messi and Ronaldo’s stranglehold. The 2023 winner is eagerly awaited, with young stars like Mbappe and Haaland potential heirs to the Messi-Ronaldo era.

You May Find Interest: Ballon d’Or 2023: Date, Time and How to Watch It

Here is a list of Ballon d’Or winners from 1956 to 2023:

1956: Stanley Matthews (Blackpool)
1957: Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid)
1958: Raymond Kopa (Real Madrid)
1959: Alfredo Di Stefano (Real Madrid)
1960: Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
1961: Omar Sivori (Juventus)
1962: Josef Masopust (Dukla Prague)
1963: Lev Yashin (Dynamo Moscow)
1964: Denis Law (Manchester United)
1965: Eusebio (Benfica)
1966: Bobby Charlton (Manchester United)
1967: Florian Albert (Ferencvaros)
1968: George Best (Manchester United)
1969: Gianni Rivera (AC Milan)
1970: Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich)
1971: Johan Cruyff (Ajax)
1972: Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich)
1973: Johan Cruyff (Barcelona)
1974: Johan Cruyff (Barcelona)
1975: Oleg Blokhin (Dynamo Kyiv)
1976: Franz Beckenbauer (Bayern Munich)
1977: Allan Simonsen (Borussia Monchengladbach)
1978: Kevin Keegan (Hamburg)
1979: Kevin Keegan (Hamburg)
1980: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich)
1981: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich)
1982: Paolo Rossi (Juventus)
1983: Michel Platini (Juventus)
1984: Michel Platini (Juventus)
1985: Michel Platini (Juventus)
1986: Igor Belanov (Dynamo Kyiv)
1987: Ruud Gullit (AC Milan)
1988: Marco van Basten (AC Milan)
1989: Marco van Basten (AC Milan)
1990: Lothar Matthaus (Internazionale)
1991: Jean-Pierre Papin (Marseille)
1992: Marco van Basten (AC Milan)
1993: Roberto Baggio (Juventus)
1994: Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona)
1995: George Weah (AC Milan)
1996: Matthias Sammer (Borussia Dortmund)
1997: Ronaldo (Internazionale)
1998: Zinedine Zidane (Juventus)
1999: Rivaldo (Barcelona)
2000: Luis Figo (Real Madrid)
2001: Michael Owen (Liverpool)
2002: Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2003: Pavel Nedved (Juventus)
2004: Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)
2005: Ronaldinho (Barcelona)
2006: Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid)
2007: Kaka (Milan)
2008: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2009: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2010: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2011: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2012: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2013: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2014: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2015: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2016: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2017: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2018: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
2019: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2020: Cancelled
2021: Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
2022: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
2023: Yet to be announced


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