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Ballon d’Or: 4 French Footballers to win the trophy

Ballon d'Or award
Ballon d'Or award

Ballon d' Or, awarded by the French football magazine France Football is undoubtedly the most recognized award in the international football Circuit. Even though a French football magazine instituted the award, only 4 footballers from France have won the award ever.

Out of these 4 Football players, one of them has won the award thrice, thus making the total number of Ballon d'Or trophies that has gone into the French soil to be 6. It is surprising to see that Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands have won 7 awards through their footballers and is above France in the number of Ballon d'Or trophies.

A look at the 4 International Football Players from France who have won the coveted individual trophy.


#4 Raymond Kopa - 1958

Raymond Kopa - 1958 Ballon d'Or winner
Raymond Kopa - 1958 Ballon d'Or winner

Raymond Kopa was the first Frenchman to win the Ballon d'Or trophy in the year 1958. He was also in the race to become the first ever Ballon d'Or winner in the year 1956 (the year in which the award was started) but lost out to Stanley Mathews by 3 points.

Also, he was third in the race for the award in 1957 when his Real Madrid teammate Alfredo Di Stefano won the trophy. After winning the award in 1958, he came second once again in 1959 when Alfredo Di Stefano lifted the Ballon d'Or trophy.

The consistency Raymond Kopa displayed during these years being among the top 3 nominees of Ballon d'Or was literally unmatched for years to come. The fact that a French international was part of the Top 3 in all the initial years of the award is a recognition for French football.

The French international made 45 appearances for Real Madrid scoring 18 goals between 1952 and 1962. He was also well known for his dribbling skills as a playmaker and was nicknamed "Little Napolean" by French Sports Newspaper.

#3 Michel Platini - 1983, 1984, 1985

Michel Platini of France
Michel Platini of France

Michel Platini began his French career in the year 1975 and played for the country till 1987. During this tenure, he represented France 72 times and scored 41 goals. He was nicknamed "The King" for his leadership capabilities on the field apart from his footballing prowess. He was crucial for France in their World Cup campaigns of 1982 and 1986.

Michel Platini first broke into the Ballon d'Or Top 3 in the year 1977 but was 4 points short of the eventual winner Allan Simonsen. He Once again broke into the Top 3 in the year 1980, but the German footballer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was the Ballon d'Or winner that year. Later his era began in the year 1983 and he completed a hat-trick of Ballon d'Or trophies until 1985. He still remains as the most successful Ballon d'Or winner for France.

Michel Platini later managed France Football team for 4 years from 1988 to 1992 and later became an administrator.

#2 Jean-Pierre Papin - 1991

Jean Pierre Papin of France
Jean Pierre Papin of France

Jean-Pierre Papin began his French career in the year 1986 and played for the country till 1995 as a forward. During this tenure, he represented France 54 times and scored 30 goals. His goal scoring ability and skillset led the fans to nickname him 'papinades'.

One of the most interesting and striking facts is that Jean-Pierre Papin won the Ballon d'Or trophy while he was playing for the French club Marseille. He remains to be the only football player to win Ballon d'Or award while playing for a French club. The fact that Marseille is the only French club ever to win the Ballon d'Or trophy is all because of Jean-Pierre Papin.

Outside French football, Papin did spend some years of his footballing career at other top European clubs like Bayern Munich and A.C.Milan.But he is always remembered as the French footballer who is the only Ballon d'Or winner with a French club.

#1 Zinedine Zidane - 1998

Zinedine Zidane in Semi-final Portugal v France - World Cup 2006
Zinedine Zidane in Semi-final Portugal v France - World Cup 2006

Zinedine Zidane was part of the France U-17, U-19 and U-21 squads and came through the French football youth system. He broke into the senior national team in the year 1994 and made 108 appearances as an attacking midfielder and scored 31 goals for France.

He ensured that France wins the 1998 FIFA world cup and won the Ballon d'Or award the same year. The most infamous event he was part of was the headbutting of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 FIFA world cup.

Before winning the Ballon d'Or award in 1998, Zidane had broken into the Ballon d'Or Top 3 in 1997, losing to Ronaldo in the process. Later in the year 2000, he once again broke into the Top 3 but lost out to Luis Figo at the prime of his career.

After his playing career, he managed the Real Madrid side for 2 years and did have an incredible success with the club as a manager.

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Edited by Sripad
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