In a team sport such as football, Ballon d’Or is one of the top individual honours a footballer can hope to receive in his playing days. The award recognizes the contribution of players across the globe for their club and country. Players who have made telling contribution in a season and helped their respective teams to reach greater heights get nominated for the best player award. Several legends finished their careers without winning it, while some dominated it more than the others. Let’s look at the players who have won the award the most number of times:
The late Dutch legend came to prominence when Ajax and the Netherlands started playing in the “Total Football” system. The tactical system became popular instantly with Cruyff at the heart of it for both the Netherlands and Ajax. He won three European Cups with the Dutch club before switching to Barcelona, where he received several other accolades.
He was instrumental in Netherlands reaching the 1974 World Cup final, playing the “Total Football” system. He received the Golden Ball for his exploits in the tournament. The legendary player has won the Ballon d’Or three times – 1971, 1973, and 1974. As a player and a coach, Cruyff was a revolutionary who changed the way we look at football currently.
The Portuguese superstar is one of the fittest players the world has ever seen. There is hardly an award or a trophy the player has not won. Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards and four European Golden Shoes – both are records for a European player. He has won 31 major trophies for club and country till date. They include seven league titles and a staggering five Champions League winners medals.
Ronaldo captained a less-fancied Portugal to beat the host France in the 2016 European Championship final – his and Portugal’s first major international trophy. He also won the UEFA Nations League title soon after. Be it Manchester United, Real Madrid or Juventus, Ronaldo has etched his name in their record books forever with his stupendous performances.
The Argentine stalwart holds the record for winning the most Ballon d’Or awards – six times. He astonishingly won four successive Ballon d’Or awards from 2009-12 and won two more in 2015 and 2019. Spending his entire career at Barcelona so far, Messi has won a club-record 34 trophies. It includes ten La Liga titles and four Champions League triumphs.
He was pivotal in Argentina famously reaching the 2014 World Cup final against all odds. Despite losing the final in heart-breaking fashion against Germany in extra-time, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball for his overall contribution. In the 2008 summer Olympics, Messi bagged a gold medal for Argentina after assisting the winner against Nigeria in the final. With all of these accolades to his name, the multi-talented attacker has made the Ballon d’Or trophy his very own.