Who Has Won the Most Ballon d'Or Awards?

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Kristy Sparow / Contributor

So you're wondering who has won the most Ballon d'Or awards? Let's get in to it!

Ballon d'Or winners receive a different level of respect from those in the football world. For players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Ballon d'Or awards have helped solidify their careers as two of the greatest players that have ever graced the pitch.

Related: Meet USMNT Midfielder Malik Tillman

There have been 25 players who have been named Ballon d'Or winners throughout the years, including Eusebio, Ronaldinho, and Zinedine Zidane. Today, we'll look at the players that have won the most Ballon d'Or awards and how the process works.

What is the Ballon d'Or?

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Since 1956, the Ballon d'Or has been given out to the top men's player in football. Stanley Matthews won the first-ever Ballon d'Or during his days with Blackpool, and since then, many other legends have taken home the honor.

After merging with FIFA's World Player award, the Ballon d'Or became the biggest individual status symbol a player could win. The award is now open to players competing on all continents. However, no player outside of European football has ever earned the accolade.

When is this year's Ballon d'Or?

The 2023 Ballon d'Or winner was named on October 16th, with Lionel Messi taking home his 8th award. Others who were in consideration were Erling Haaland (Man City), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Messi earned the honor after leading Argentina to their 2022 FIFA World Cup title, while also playing for Barcelona, PSG and Inter Miami in MLS, becoming the first player to win the award playing for three different clubs and the only to win it while playing in the USA. He received 462 points with the runner up, Erling Haaland receiving 357.

Who has won the most Ballon d'Ors?

1. Lionel Messi: 8 Awards

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  • Years Won: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2023
  • Nationality: Argentina
  • Club: Barcelona, PSG, Inter Miami

Messi has finished on the Ballon d'Or podium 14 times during his storied career. That includes eight victories, most notably during his incredible run of play from 2009 through 2019.

The Argentine has won almost every trophy imaginable, and this year, he finally won his first World Cup with his native country.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo: 5 Awards

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  • Awards: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
  • Nationality: Portugal
  • Clubs: Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo's five Ballon d'Ors puts him second all-time behind Messi.

Ronaldo was dominant in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League during his time at Real Madrid. He even helped Portugal win Euro 2016 after winning the Champions League and the Club World Cup with Madrid.

T-3. Michel Platini: 3 Awards

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  • Awards: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Nationality: France
  • Clubs: Juventus

Platini is responsible for one of the greatest Euro performances of all time in the 1980s. The Frenchman scored nine goals at the 1984 Euros, which still stands as the record for one competition.

T-3. Johan Cryuff: 3 Awards

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  • Awards: 1971, 1973, 1974
  • Nationality: Netherlands
  • Clubs: Ajax, Barcelona

Cruyff was regarded as one of the great creators in Dutch football history. He has the 'Cruyff Turn' aptly named after him, which was his patented move throughout his career.

The Dutchman starred at Ajax and Barcelona before eventually landing in the United States.

T-3. Marco van Basten: 3 Awards

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  • Awards: 1988, 1989, 1992
  • Nationality: Netherlands
  • Clubs: Ajax, Milan

Van Basten is an Ajax and AC Milan legend after scoring over 200 combined goals for the clubs. The Dutchman comes in a long line of accomplished goal scorers from the Netherlands.

Players like Robin Van Persie, Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy all hailed form Van Basten's nation.

T-6. Franz Beckenbauer: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 1972, 1976
  • Nationality: Germany
  • Clubs: Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos

Beckenbauer is widely considered a top defender in football history and that's why he won the Ballon d'Or on multiple occasions. It's rare for a center back to take home this type of honor. However, Beckenbauer graced the pitch with Bayern for over a decade.

He also was capped for West Germany over 100 times and won the World Cup as both a player and manager.

T-6. Ronaldo Nazario: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 1997, 2002
  • Nationality: Brazil
  • Clubs: Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Corinthians

Ronaldo was an absolute menace in front of the goal and finished his career as one of the great strikers in the sport's history. He was an accomplished attacker for his native Brazil and won the 2002 World Cup with his country.

He starred for the biggest club's in Europe, including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

T-6. Alfredo di Stefano: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 1957, 1959
  • Nationality: Argentina
  • Clubs: River Plate, Huracan, Millonarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol

Di Stefano was an original Galactico for Madrid and set the tone for Madridistas of years to follow. He totalled over 200 goals for Real during his time with the club, including 216 in La Liga. The Argentine was a decorated champion with five European Cup trophies to his name as well.

Di Stefano actually played for three national teams during his career, including his native Argentina, Colombia and Spain.

T-6. Kevin Keegan: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 1978, 1979
  • Nationality: England
  • Clubs: Scunthorpe United, Liverpool, Hamburger SV, Southampton, Newcastle United, Blacktown City

Keegan was a Liverpool and Newcastle great before eventually getting into the managerial side of the game. He took home back-to-back Ballon d'Ors in 1978 and 1979 after tremendous success in the Bundesliga with Hamburg.

T-6. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 1980, 1981
  • Nationality: Germany
  • Clubs: Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Servette

Rummenigge is currently an executive for Bayern Munich, but his career as a player was quite decorated. He spent years at Bayern as a goal scorer, as well as with Inter Milan and Servette.

The German was part of back-to-back runners up places at the World Cups in 1982 and 1986.

T6. Alexia Putellas: 2 Awards

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  • Awards: 2021, 2022
  • Nationality: Spain
  • Clubs: Espanyol, Levante, Barcelona

Putellas is the only female who has won more than 1 Ballon d'Or, as the award only began to be handed out to women starting in 2018. She is regarded as one of the top female footballers of all time, winning all the major club and individual awards possible. What's even more impressive is that she is still just 29-years-old.

Who Won The First Ballon D'or?

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The first Ballon d'Or, originally known as the European Footballer of the Year award, was won by Stanley Matthews. He was an English footballer who played as a forward. Matthews received the inaugural award in 1956 for his outstanding performances, particularly during the 1955-1956 season with Blackpool in the English Football League. This season and the FA Cup Final victory, in particular, elevated Stanley Matthews to new heights of recognition, culminating in him becoming the first-ever recipient of the Ballon d'Or.

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