The 2022 Ballon d'Or winner will be announced today (17 October) at the ceremony set to be held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. The award is presented to the best performing footballer in a season by French news magazine France Football.
The Ballon d'Or is undoubtedly the most prestigious individual prize in the world of football. The winner of the Ballon d'Or is chosen by a combination of votes from media representatives, national team captains and coaches.
Until 1995, the Ballon d'Or was only awarded to players from Europe. It was subsequently expanded to include players from across the world plying their trade at European clubs. In 2007, its ambit was further expanded to include footballers from anywhere across the globe.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five players with the most Ballon d'Or wins in the history of football.
#5 Marco van Basten - 3 Ballon d'Or wins
Marco van Basten is one of the most lethal strikers in the history of the sport. He was phenomenal for the Dutch national side as well as Ajax and AC Milan, the two clubs that he represented in his relatively short career.
He was ranked sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll and has won the Ballon d'Or three times. Van Basten won his first Ballon d'Or in 1988 after leading the Netherlands national team to glory at the Euros. He was also the top scorer in the tournament and won the Golden Boot.
Van Basten won a second successive Ballon d'Or in 1989 after guiding AC Milan to a European Cup triumph. He would win the award once again in 1992.
#4 Michel Platini - 3 Ballon d'Or wins
'Le Roi' (The King) Michel Platini is one of the most important figures in the history of French football. He played a crucial role in elevating France to the stafootballingtballinbg superpower. The diminutive playmaker made a career out of coming up clutch for both club and country when it was most needed.
He led Les Bleus to glory at the 1984 European Championship. Platini was inarguably the best footballer in the world during the early 80s. He was the winner of the Ballon d'Or three years in a row (1983, 1984 and 1985).
Platini cemented his status as an all-time great during that period and inspired a new generation of playmakers. Zinedine Zidane, widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time, hailed Platini as his hero. He told FIFA.com:
"When I was a kid and played with my friends, I always chose to be Platini. I let my friends share the names of my other idols between themselves."
#3 Johan Cruyff - 3 Ballon d'Or wins
The Dutch magician Johan Cruyff is not only one of the greatest footballers of all time but he is also credited with revolutionizing the sport. He was a pioneer and enjoyed a wonderful career as both player and manager and popularized the philosophy of 'total football'.
Cruyff initially established himself at Ajax, winning the league title eight times across two stints. He also won the European cup thrice with the Dutch outfit. Cruyff copped a move to Barcelona in 1973 and won the La Liga title in his first season with the Catalans.
He was voted the European Player of the Century in 1999. Cruyff has won the Ballon d'Or three times, namely in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo - 5 Ballon d'Or wins
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest goalscorer in the history of the beautiful game. The Portuguese icon is the leading goalscorer in men's international football with 117 goals to his name. He has had an extremely illustrious career and is still going strong at the age of 37.
Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or a whopping five times in his career. He is one of the most complete forwards in the history of the sport. After starting out as a winger, Ronaldo slowly transitioned into an inside forward before eventually transforming into a centre-forward.
His blistering pace, trickery, incredible shooting range, vision, sheer athleticism and will to succeed set him apart.
#1 Lionel Messi - 7 Ballon d'Or wins
Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. His Ballon d'Or haul suggests the same. The Argentinian legend has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards in his life. He has dominated football over the past decade and a half and exercised a duopoly over the Ballon d'Or with his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi was unstoppable in his prime courtesy of his silky dribbling skills, burst of pace and excellent technical ability. A product of Barcelona's famed youth academy 'La Masia', Messi is one of the most technically gifted footballers in the history of the sport.
He won his first Ballon d'Or in 2009. Messi has since won the award six times, namely in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.
(Please note: Ronaldo Nazario, Franz Beckenbauer, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan and Karl-Heinz Rummenigg are all tied for 6th position with 2 Ballon d'Ors each).