Ranking the 5 best European Ballon d'Or winners of all time

Sushan Chakraborty

#3 Michel Platini

Michel Platini won the Ballon d'Or three times
Michel Platini won the Ballon d'Or three times

The Ballon d’Or award honors footballers who impress as well as inspire. During his playing career, Michel Platini did both with style, putting in unmatched performances in every other game. Ethical violations saw Platini’s relationship with football end on a bitter note in 2015. Disappointing as it was, the off-field antics should not keep us from celebrating the great player he was.

Nicknamed “Le Roi” or “The King” Platini was an apex predator on the football pitch. He had the heart of a lion, could score from anywhere on the pitch, and was always the first to react after a setback. Platini breached the best of defenses at will and was the top scorer of Juventus’ victorious 1984-85 European Cup campaign.

Paulo Dybala scored his 105th goal and is officially the 12th highest scorer in the history of Juventus passing Michel Platini. The next legend of Juventus.

Platini was just as prolific for his country and led them to 1984 Euros, emerging as the tournament’s top scorer and best player. For his exploits, Platini won three consecutive Ballons d’Or between 1983 and 1985.

#2 Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff bagged three Ballon d'Ors in his career
Johan Cruyff bagged three Ballon d'Ors in his career

Many great players have called football their own in the last century but very few have been as influential as the great Johan Cruyff. The Netherlands international was not only a world-class footballer, but he was also a philanthropist and a rebel.

Cruyff captained the great Ajax side in 1970s, leading them to three consecutive European Cups between 1970 and 1973. In 1973, he took his talents to Barcelona and helped them win La Liga, beating favorites Real Madrid.

This photo sums up the historical importance of style and play in Barcelona.

The next year, he took his national team to the final of the 1974 World Cup. West Germany came out on top, but Cruyff was chosen as the tournament’s best player and won the Golden Ball.

For his exploits with Ajax, Barcelona and then the Netherlands, Cruyff won three Ballons d’Or in 1971, 1973, and 1974.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid v Sevilla - La Liga
Real Madrid v Sevilla - La Liga

Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and back again at United - Cristiano Ronaldo has traveled far and wide in search of excellence. From being a lanky winger to a bullish, ruthless goalscorer, the Portuguese has explored many sides of his footballing persona and he is not done yet.

The 36-year-old has won it all in club football. He has won five Champions Leagues, seven league titles and numerous domestic cups. Ronaldo has thrived in Spain, England and Italy, scoring against the best of teams. In 2016, he guided Portugal to their first-ever Euro trophy, cementing his name as the most successful Portuguese captain in history.

⋄ Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: 126 goals for Manchester United⋄ Cristiano Ronaldo: 127 goals for Manchester UnitedBragging rights secured 😎

Real Madrid's leading scorer (451 goals) has won five Ballons d’Or in his illustrious career. He won his first with Manchester United (2008) while the other four (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) came during his nine-year stint with Real Madrid.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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