Germany is one of the biggest footballing nations, enjoying tremendous success on the biggest stages over the years. In their illustrious history, the Germans have won the FIFA World Cup four times, among other notable accolades. Undoubtedly, they boast a trophy-laden history in football, with their last World Cup trophy coming in 2014.
The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious prize which decides the best footballer of the year. It has been won by many great footballers from various nations over the years.
Germany have dominated the Ballon d'Or podium as a nation, with five German players having won the award in history. These five players have won the award a total of seven times. Barring Germany, only Italy have five players from their nation to win the coveted award.
Being one of the most decorated sides in international football, Germany has seen many great footballers rise up and excel over the years. The Ballon d'Or is only reserved for the greatest of the greats and some German legends were up to the task. .
On that note, let's take a look at Germany's five Ballon d'Or winners:
#5 Matthias Sammer
Matthias Sammer was the last German player to have won the Ballon d'Or award. Sammer excelled as a 'libero' or a sweeper later in his career, helping his club and country reach unparalleled heights.
Sammer's tactical intelligence and composure made him one of the best of his era. Standing tall in central-defense, he was a difficult man to beat for the forwards. He was also integral to his side with his ability to initiate attacks.
Sammer helped Germany win Euro 1996, adjudged as the Player of the Tournament. He had a terrific year with Borussia Dortmund, helping them win the Champions League. For his exploits, Sammer deservingly won the 1996 Ballon d'Or, becoming the fifth player from Germany to win the award.
#4 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
An exceptional goalscorer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, won two consecutive Ballon d'Ors in 1980 and 1981. The German forward had a penchant for popping up at the biggest moments, as evident from his nine goals in three World Cup campaigns.
Rummenigge was sensational for Bayern Munich, playing an integral role in their two European Cup wins. During his ten-year tenure with the Bavarians, the legendary forward made 422 appearances and scored 217 goals.
During Rummenigge's second Ballon d'Or win, three players from Germany occupied the podium. It was a rare sight to have three players from the same nation occupy the top three spots. Rummenigge, Paul Breitner and Bernd Schuster made it possible.
#3 Lothar Matthaus
Lothar Matthaus remains Germany's highest-capped player to date (150), leaving an incredible mark for his country. The legendary midfielder had a tremendous impact on the clubs he played for, notably Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Matthaus was a pivotal part of the German team which went on to win the Euro cup in 1980 and the FIFA World Cup in 1990. He made 150 appearances for Germany, cementing his legacy as one of the best midfielders of all time.
Matthaus was awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1990 following his sensational performance for Germany, helping his country win the World Cup. He scored four goals in the tournament. He was at Inter Milan at the time when he became the fourth German footballer to lift the prestigious award.
In addition to being a genius midfielder, Matthaus scored over 200 goals for the clubs he played for.
#2 Gerd Muller
Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers ever, Gerd Muller was one of his kind. Der Bomber set a plethora of records during his time - one of them being the first German player to win the Ballon d'Or. He was one of the footballers to have won the FIFA World Cup, European Cup and the Ballon d'Or in his illustrious career.
Gerd Muller was Germany's highest scorer for a long time with 68 goals. This record was broken in 2014 by Miroslav Klose. He was pivotal for Germany in the 1970 World Cup, scoring a whopping ten goals in the tournament. For his extraterrestrial exploits, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or that year.
In addition to being a legend for his nation, Gerd Muller was undisputed for his club, Bayern Munich. The legendary forward racked up over 500 goals for the Bavarians, helping them win four Bundesliga titles and three European cups during his tenure.
#1 Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer was arguably the greatest German footballer in their rich history. The legendary footballer became the first defender to win the Ballon d'Or in 1972, with all of the top three players belonging to Germany. He claimed the prestigious award again four years later, cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats.
Beckenbauer revolutionized the art of defending and, popularizing the role of a libero like no other. Besides being a great defender, he had a knack of moving into the midfield. He possessed a great passing range to become a perfect sweeper. It goes without saying that he was probably the most crucial player for his club and country in 1970s.
Beckenbauer helped Germany clinch the Euros in 1972 and the FIFA World Cup in 1974. For Bayern Munich, he made over 500 appearances and remains one of their greatest ever players.