World champions France currently boast incredible strength and depth on paper with superstars in every position. They are proving to be a dominant side in the last few years and have won the UEFA Nations League 2021 few months ago.
Being one of the strongest footballing nations in the world, they have won the World Cup twice, in 1998 and 2018. They have also been crowned European champions twice, in 1984 and 2000.
France has also been home to some of the greatest players in world football over the years. They have been producing and developing world beaters in the game who have amazed us with their raw skill and caliber to dominate their opponents.
The Ballon d'Or is awarded by 'France Football' - a magazine based out of France. It is awarded to the best footballer on the planet and many great footballers have claimed the prestigious prize over time.
Four French footballers have gotten their hands on the award over time. Out of these four, one of them has won the award thrice. On that note, let us take a look into
France's 4 Ballon d'Or winners
#4 Raymond Kopa - 1958
Known as the 'Little Napolean', Raymond Kopa was the first footballer from France to get their hands on the Ballon d'Or award. The Frenchman won the award in 1958 and has enjoyed podium finishes numerous times in his esteemed career. Kopa lost out to Sir Stanley Matthews by just three points in the inaugural 1956 Ballon d'Or.
Kopa was known for his exploits with Real Madrid, mesmerizing the audience with his dribbling and playmaking. He was a key part of the Los Blancos team which went on to make history on the European circuit in 1950s. They won five consecutive European cups.
Kopa almost always broke into the top three of the Ballon d'Or during his tenure, which shows his dominance.
#3 Jean-Pierre Papin - 1991
Jean-Pierre Papin was known as 'papinades' to his fans for his explosive ability in front of goal. The former French striker was one of the best in the business in the early 1990s. He found the net quite often with his effectiveness in front of goal. Papin was a deadly striker back in the days and a threat to be reckoned with in the final third.
Papin is the only footballer playing from a French club to win the Ballon d'Or award. He won the award while featuring for Marseille. For his nation, he racked up 30 goals in 54 appearances.
#2 Zinedine Zidane - 1998
Widely considered to be France's greatest footballer, Zinedine Zidane was an artist with the ball at his feet. The French genius was crucial to France's success in the 1998 World Cup before leading them to the World Cup finals again in 2006. In his illustrious career, Zidane made over 100 appearances for France and scored 31 goals.
With a brace against Brazil in the finals, Zidane ensured that France wins the 1998 FIFA world cup and he won the Ballon d'Or award for his exploits. He was also the main man for France in their Euro Cup triumph in 2000. Zidane also helped France reach the 2006 World Cup final. However his shocking headbutt to Marco Materazzi in the final unfortunately led to France's downfall against Italy.
In addition to his exploits for his nation, Zidane was a serial winner at Juventus and at Real Madrid. He won Serie A twice with Juventus before signing for Real Madrid.
The legendary midfielder then helped Los Blancos win the Champions League. His superb volley in the 2002 final still remains one of the greatest goals in the tournament's history.
With the ball at his feet, Zidane was capable of incredible things and he showed that countless times in his career. Besides his Ballon d'Or win in 1998, Zidane managed podium finishes in 1997 and 2000. He lost out to Ronaldo Nazario and Luis Figo respectively.
#1 Michel Platini - 1983, 1984, 1985
Michel Platini was one of the players who revolutionized the No. 10 role to become one of France's best players ever. He was good at playmaking due to his passing range and tactical intelligence but what was truly astounding was his penchant to find the net.
Platini represented France 72 times, racking up 41 goals in his esteemed career. The French legend scored nine goals in the 1984 Euro Cup, helping Les Bleus win their first Euro title. No one has scored more goals in a single Euro Cup ever since, which has shown his incredible impact on his nation.
At club level, Platini played for Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Juventus during his playing career. During his famed Juventus tenure, the France international won Serie A twice along with one European Cup. His time in the Italian top flight saw his legend grow, making him an immense favorite among fans.
Platini won the Ballon d'Or thrice which makes him the most successful French player in history.