#3 The Golden Ball
The Golden Ball is another prestigious award that goes beyond numbers and aims to reward the best footballer in the FIFA World Cup.
The best footballer may not be a part of the champion side and may not even have the best stats in the tournament (goals, saves, assists) but must have left their indelible mark on the quadrennial showpiece with their performances.
In fact, the last Golden Ball-winner from the winning team at the World Cup was Brazilian striker Romario in the 1994 edition of the tournament. Both Lionel Messi and Luka Modric, the last two winners of the award, were beaten finalists.
One factor that adds to the prestige of winning the Golden Ball is the fact that a top footballer gets very few chances during their careers to win it.
#2 FIFA World Player of the Year/Fifa The Best
From 1991 to 2009, FIFA presented the best men's football player in the world with the World Player of the Year award before it merged the award with the Ballon d'Or for six years.
Post this partnership, both the men's and women's awards were subsumed into the new Fifa Best Awards.
The original award was won by both Ronaldo Nazario (Brazil) and Zinedine Zidane (France) thrice. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the new iteration twice.
#1 The Ballon d'Or
Since 1956, France Football magazine has been giving out the Ballon d'Or award to the best footballer in the world every year.
The oldest and still the most prestigious award in the game, the Ballon d'Or was merged with the FIFA award for six years till 2009 but has since become an independent award.
First conceived by sports journalist Gabriel Hanot, the award initially only rewarded the best European player in a season. That changed in 1995 when players from any country active in European leagues became eligible.
It then became a global award in 2007. Football journalists were the original voters but in 2007, team captains and coaches were given voting rights.
Lionel Messi has won the coveted award six times followed by Ronaldo who has done so on five occasions. Luka Modric broke the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly during his annus mirabillis in 2018, the year in which he also won the Golden Ball.
The award was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award - Awarded to the best footballer of the best team in Europe in a season.