Ballon d'Or (1956–2009)
The Ballon d'Or (French pronunciation: [balɔ̃ dɔʁ], "Golden Ball") and often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award, was an annual association football award. It was presented to the player who had been voted to have performed the best over the previous calendar year. The award was conceived by France Football's chief magazine writer Gabriel Hanot, who asked his colleagues to vote for the player of the year in Europe in 1956. The inaugural winner was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool.
Originally, journalists could only vote for European players at European clubs, meaning that players like Diego Maradona (who played in European football clubs but is not European) and Pelé (who neither played for a European club nor is European) were ineligible for the award. A change in the rules in 1995 allowed non-European players to be eligible for the award if they played for a European club. The first non-European to win after the rule change was Milan's George Weah in the same year. In 2007, any player in the world became eligible, and the number of journalists allowed to vote also increased; 96 journalists from around the world chose their top five players, as opposed to the 52 Europe-based journalists in 2006.
Three players have won the award three times each: Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten. Platini is the only player to have won the award three times in a row, when he won the award from 1983 to 1985. Ronaldo became the first Brazilian to win the award in 1997, after non-Europeans were made eligible. With seven awards each, Dutch and German players won the Ballon d'Or the most. Italian clubs Juventus and Milan had the most winners respectively; six players have won eight awards while playing for each team. The final recipient of the Ballon d'Or was Lionel Messi, the third Argentine to win the award, but the first as an Argentine citizen.
The Ballon d'Or and the men's FIFA World Player of the Year award were merged in 2010 and the world's best male player has since been awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or each year. UEFA created the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2011, so it could keep the prestige of the old Ballon d'Or after it was merged to create the FIFA Ballon d'Or.
Multiple winners 
|Johan Cruyff||3||1971, 1973, 1974|
|Michel Platini||3||1983, 1984, 1985|
|Marco van Basten||3||1988, 1989, 1992|
|Alfredo Di Stéfano||2||1957, 1959|
|Franz Beckenbauer||2||1972, 1976|
|Kevin Keegan||2||1978, 1979|
|Karl-Heinz Rummenigge||2||1980, 1981|
By country 
By club 
See also 
- UEFA Club Footballer of the Year
- FIFA World Player of the Year
- European Golden Shoe
- World Soccer Player of the Year
- FIFPro World Player of the Year
- Castrol Rankings
- Despite being born in Argentina, Alfredo Di Stéfano acquired Spanish citizenship in 1956, and went on to play for the Spanish national football team.
- Despite being born in Argentina, Omar Sívori acquired Italian citizenship in 1961, and went on to play for the Italian national football team.
- Johan Cruyff was signed by Barcelona from Ajax mid-way through 1973.
- Kevin Keegan was signed by Hamburg from Liverpool mid-way through 1977.
- Gary Lineker was signed by Barcelona from Everton mid-way through 1986.
- Ruud Gullit was signed by Milan from PSV Eindhoven mid-way through 1987.
- Paulo Futre was signed by Atlético Madrid from Porto mid-way through 1987.
- Frank Rijkaard was signed by Milan from Real Zaragoza mid-way through 1988.
- George Weah was signed by Milan from Paris Saint-Germain mid-way through 1995.
- Ronaldo was signed by Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven mid-way through 1996.
- Ronaldo was signed by Internazionale from Barcelona mid-way through 1997.
- Luís Figo was signed by Real Madrid from Barcelona mid-way through 2000.
- Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid from Internazionale mid-way through 2002.
- Deco was signed by Barcelona from Porto mid-way through 2004.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid from Manchester United mid-way through 2009.
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- "Rankings by Wins". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
- "Messi obtiene el Balón de oro 2009". El Economista (in Spanish). 1 December 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "The FIFA Ballon d'Or is born". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- "How the award came about". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- Bellwood, Tom (4 December 2009). "The best footballers to have never played in the World Cup". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- "Juve legend Sívori dies". uefa.com. Union of European Football Associations. 18 February 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
- "Johan Cruyff". Laureus. Retrieved 6 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Sexy football to sexy golf, Gullit shows his class". The Scotsman (Johnston Press Digital Publishing). 4 October 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- Harris, Nick (7 December 2004). "George Weah: favourite to win biggest battle – leading his country off the field". The Independent (Associated Press). Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- "Fast facts on Ronaldo". Sports Illustrated. Reuters. 31 August 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- Nash, Elizabeth (25 July 2000). "Figo defects to Real Madrid for record £37.2m". The Independent (Associated Press). Retrieved 6 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Real ropes Ronaldo". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. 31 August 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- "Real sign Cannavaro and Emerson". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 19 July 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- "Man Utd accept £80m Ronaldo bid". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 11 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
- "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or")". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.