The Very Best Ballon d'Or Wins of All Time

Grant McQuillan

2021 Ballon d'Or Odds

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ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI @ 4/6

Lionel Messi - 2012

Out of Lionel Messi’s record six Ballon d’Ors, his 2012 honour definitely stands out compared to the rest in terms of individual records. In 2012, the legendary Argentine had a record-breaking goalscoring run, netting a stunning 91 goals in a calendar year (79 goals for Barcelona and 12 goals for Argentina in 69 games), along with registering 29 assists.

Messi broke Gerd Muller’s calendar year scoring record which stood for 40 years when Muller scored 85 goals for club and country in 1972. To make matters more impressive, that was 1972 Bundesliga football, and this was 2012 La Liga battles which involved a Jose Mourinho Real Madrid.

Although he failed to win either the league or the Champions League in 2012, his individual numbers were so outrageous that the Ballon d'Or couldn’t go to anybody else.

2021 Ballon d'Or Odds

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LIONEL MESSI @ 6/5

Ronaldo - 2002

The 'original' Ronaldo also won two Ballon d'Ors in his time and there haven't been many more successful years than the famous Brazil year of 2002 where they conquered the world for a record fifth time led by the then-Real Madrid centre forward, 'R9'.

Although winless with Real Madrid, Ronaldo still scored 11 goals in 12 appearances for his country that year netting an incredible eight goals in the 2002 World Cup, two of which were in the final against Germany putting him as a shoe-in for the Ballon d'Or just a few months later.

The Brazilian won the award by a considerable margin of 169 votes to Roberto Carlos' 145, and given Carlos was also at Real and with Brazil that year, it shows how nobody got close to him at the top. Moreover, Oliver Kahn finished third, a man who actually conceded those two goals in the final to Ronaldo.

In total, the clinical striker netted 30 times in 44 games for his club, which in the pre-Messi-Ronaldo era, was ridiculously impressive.

2021 Ballon d'Or Odds

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MO SALAH @ 25/1

Ronaldo - 1997

Ronaldo's other Ballon d'Or triumph came with Inter Milan back in 1997 and it remains one of the biggest landslide voting victories in the trophy's history.

Ronaldo scored a remarkable 56 goals in 1997, which also included 15 assists that resulted in a then record-breaking transfer from Barcelona Inter Milan. Ronaldo had team honours also at a young age, helping Brazil to a Copa America title and a Confederations Cup victory along with helping Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title.

With Inter, he scored 34 times in 47 appearances in his first campaign, but it was his triumphs with Barcelona the season prior that stole the show, and in reality, nobody in the late 90s came close to his winning feats, bar Zinedine Zidane a year later.

Zinedine Zidane - 1998

Speaking of which, Zidane won the Ballon d'Or back in 1998 following France's World Cup win on home soil. In truth, many French players could argue their case for the Ballon d'Or that year with the likes of Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps putting in mesmeric displays for club and country.

Nevertheless, it was a 25-year-old Zidane who stole the show with his creative displays in midfield, putting in at least a 9/10 in every single game he played. He scored five times for France that year, two of which came at the World Cup, while also winning Serie A with Juventus and finishing as the runners-up in the Champions League that year.

In fact, given Zidane's Juventus also got to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia that year and lost by only one goal to Lazio over two legs, the Frenchman was two games and a handful of goals away from winning everything on offer that year.


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Lionel Messi - 2015

The Barcelona team of 2014/15 is one of the best teams of all time, with Messi easily being the standout player on that team, so much so that it was was not even a conversation that he wasn’t winning the Ballon d'Or in 2015.

In a team that also included Luis Suarez and Neymar, Messi still managed to score 52 goals and contribute 26 assists in just 61 appearances. His insane goal contributors were not just empty numbers, as his goals and assists led Barcelona to their second treble with Messi in the side, winning La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, but also the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

Barcelona won the, spearheaded by the best attacking force we've ever seen, but mainly because Messi was in there too.

Cristiano Ronaldo - 2016

2016 is definitely a year that Cristiano Ronaldo would be most remembered for by claiming his fourth Ballon d'Or for both individual and team honours.

Not only did Cristiano score 55 goals and grab 16 assists in only 57 appearances in 2016, but he was also able to grab his third UEFA Champions League title, while also captaining Portugal to winning the European Championship, the country's first major honour.

Although he got injured in 2016 Euro final, his leadership from the sideline to encourage his team right to the end showed how much the game was to him. An outragoues season and arguably his most notable, although not his statistical best in front of goal.

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Kaka - 2008

Before the decade of dominance and more from Ronaldo and Messi, the world was filled with Brazilian superstars who won the Ballon d'Or 50% of the time from 1997 until the Manchester United forward won his first in 2008 with the last being AC Milan superstar, Kaka.

The creative midfielder won the Champions League in 2007, along with the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and winning countless individual awards outside of the Ballon d'Or. The Brazilian also managed a record individual high of five goals in 12 games for his country that year.

In total, Kaka scored 18 times for Milan in the 2006/07 season but given he played as an attacking midfielder behind the likes of Filippo Inzaghi, this is only more impressive.


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