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Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d’Or Nominations

When it comes to celebrating football excellence, few accolades shine as brilliantly as the Ballon d’Or. This prestigious award, presented annually by the French news magazine France Football since 1956, has been a beacon of recognition for the world’s finest footballers. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of the Ballon d’Or and explore the remarkable journeys of the top five players who have received the most nominations for this coveted honour.

Ballon dOr Image via iDiski Times Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Ballon d’Or, Image via iDiski Times

Read More: Messi or Haaland? 2023 Ballon d’Or nominees revealed with Ronaldo, Rashford and Bruno snubbed

A Brief History of the Ballon d’Or

Before we dive into the list of football luminaries, it’s essential to understand the illustrious history of the Ballon d’Or. Conceived by sports writers Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Ferran, this award was initially limited to European players, known as the European Footballer of the Year award. However, in 1995, it expanded its scope to include players from all corners of the globe who plied their trade in European clubs.

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Over the years, the voting process evolved, with coaches and national team captains joining football journalists in determining the winner. The award’s global reach was fully realized in 2007 when all professional footballers worldwide became eligible to receive this prestigious accolade. In 2022, France Football implemented changes, shifting the focus from achievements in a calendar year to performance during a football season, and limiting voting eligibility to countries in the top 100 of the FIFA World Ranking.

Let’s take a look at the Top 5 Players with the Most Nominations:

Now, let’s shift our attention to the football maestros who have consistently captured the imagination of fans and critics alike with their remarkable talent and dedication to the beautiful game.

Karim Benzema Won the Ballon dOr in 2022 with Real Madrid Image via Eurosport Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Karim Benzema Won the Ballon d’Or in 2022 with Real Madrid, Image via Eurosport

5. Franz Beckenbauer (12 nominations)

“Der Kaiser” – The Football Royalty

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GettyImages 550963899 2f6545d Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Franz Beckenbauer ; (GERMANY OUT) football, Bundesliga, 1976/1977, Georg Melches Stadium, Rot Weiss Essen versus FC Bayern Munich 1:4, scene of the match, team leader Franz Beckenbauer in ball possession (Photo by Werner OTTO/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Franz Beckenbauer, often hailed as “Der Kaiser,” holds a special place in football history. Imagine being nominated for the Ballon d’Or a staggering 12 times and winning two of them. Beckenbauer’s influence extends beyond individual accolades; he led his team to World Cup glory both as a captain and later as a manager. His prowess on the field and off it as a football visionary makes him a true legend of the sport.

4. Johan Cruyff (12 nominations)

The Maestro of Total Football

Johan Cruyff with his First Ballon dOr in 1971 Image via Wikipedia Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Johan Cruyff with his First Ballon d’Or in 1971, Image via Wikipedia

Johan Cruyff‘s impact on football is immeasurable. His influence stretches across tactics, iconic moments, legendary teams, and a trophy-laden career. When asked to name the player of the century, former Ballon d’Or winners ranked him third, behind only Pele and Diego Maradona. Cruyff’s philosophy continues to shape the way the game is played and appreciated. He won three Ballon d’Ors; in 1971, 1973 & 1974 respectively.

3. Paolo Maldini (13 nominations)

Defensive Genius of a Bygone Era

Paolo Maldini Image via Alpha Coders Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Paolo Maldini, Image via Alpha Coders

While the stats of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi conceding only 2 goals in 104 games may be exaggerated, it speaks volumes about their defensive prowess. Maldini’s career spanned an astonishing two decades, during which he was a defensive force like no other. His consistent excellence earned him 13 Ballon d’Or nominations, a testament to his remarkable contribution to the sport.

2. Lionel Messi (16 nominations)

The Magician from Argentina

Lionel Messi has Won 7 Ballon dOrs Up Until Now Image via FC Barcelona Official Website Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Lionel Messi has Won 7 Ballon d’Ors Up Until Now, Image via FC Barcelona Official Website

Lionel Messi‘s journey to football superstardom began at Barcelona, where he made his mark after Cristiano Ronaldo had already established himself at Manchester United. With a record-breaking number of Ballon d’Or wins to his name, Messi’s position as one of the greatest footballers in history is unassailable. While he ranks second on our list in terms of nominations, his legendary status remains untouched.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (18 nominations)

A Two-Decade Dominance

Cristaino Ronaldo has Won 5 Ballon dOrs Up Until Now Image via Sky Sports Unlocking the Legacy: Top 5 Football Players with the Most Ballon d'Or Nominations
Cristiano Ronaldo has Won 5 Ballon d’Ors Up Until Now, Image via Sky Sports

Cristiano Ronaldo, with an astonishing 18 Ballon d’Or nominations, sits at the pinnacle of football recognition. His career longevity is unparalleled, and there’s a strong possibility he will retire with 20 nominations or more Ronaldo’s sustained excellence over two decades cements his legacy as one of the 30 best players in the world year after year, a truly mind-boggling achievement.

The Ballon d’Or represents the zenith of individual football achievement, and these five players have not only received numerous nominations but have left an indelible mark on the sport. Their dedication, skill, and impact continue to inspire future generations of footballers, ensuring that the legacy of the Ballon d’Or lives on as a symbol of excellence in the world of football.

Read more:

Top 10 Richest Football Club Owners in the World in 2024

The Top 10 Most Profitable Football Transfers of all time

The Top 10 Most Profitable Football Transfers of all time

Which Football League Has the Highest Number of Ballon d’Or Winners?

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