Ballon d'Or's recognition as most prestigious award rooted in its history
Also known as 'Golden Ball Award,' Ballon d'Or defines 'best football player in the world' each year
The Ballon d'Or, one of the oldest and most prestigious individual awards for football players, is given to the best player each year.
Presented by the French weekly magazine France Football, it has been awarded since 1956, and many great names in football have been honored by it.
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi won the seventh Ballon d'Or of his career on Nov. 29 and has won the most Ballon d'Or awards in history.
His arch rival Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, also the most nominated player at 17 times, has five Ballon d'Or awards so far.
The third highest winner mantle is shared between three legendary footballers: Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten, as each of them has three awards.
Dynamo Moscow goalie Lev Yashin made history in 1963 when he became the first and only goalkeeper to win a Ballon d'Or award.
The Yashin Trophy, named after the Russian keeper, was first presented by France Football in 2019 to Brazil’s Alisson Becker and in 2021 to Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma.
In 1995, Liberian forward George Weah won the Ballon d'Or and marked another historic moment in the year that rules of eligibility were changed for the first time as he became the first non-European player to win the award.
Since 2007, the eligibility to win the Ballon d'Or has been expanded to all players from every continent.
Barcelona has won the most Ballon d'Or awards with 13, while Real Madrid is in second spot with 11.
The most wins by country is shared between four nations; Argentina, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany.
Messi is the only Argentine player who has won the Ballon d'Or while Eusebio, Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo represented Portugal.
Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerd Muller and Lothar Matthaus won for Germany while Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff are the Dutch players who have won the award.
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