Ballon d'Or: all-time winners

Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious soccer award generates high expectations, from both players and fans alike. Find more about its winners

Ballon d'Or: all-time winners

Once a year, the soccer world has its eyes set on the most important award of this sport: the Ballon d’Or —the “Golden Ball”. It was created by France Football, a renowned French magazine. The first edition of the magazine containing this award was published in 1956 and, since then, it has done nothing but grow in popularity, prestige and admiration from young soccer players who would like to be recognized in such an honorable way. In recent years, an interesting pattern has formed: since 2008, the Ballon d’Or has been awarded to either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Learn more about the Portuguese striker.

The Messi-Ronaldo pattern is born

Initially, Ballon d’Or was regarded as a European award but in 2007 it merged with FIFA’S World Player award, consolidating its stance as an international award. This merger also meant that eligibility was extended to every single player in any club around the world and, in turn, the number of voters also increased in number and nationality.

Lionel Messi receiving his sixth Ballon d'Or

That year, the winner of the award was the Brazilian midfielder Kaká. What is significant about this win is that in the top three players were, of course, Kaká, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Find the latest news about Barcelona's most important player ever. The 2007 podium marks perhaps the breaking moment for Ballon d’Or, since, from then on, there emerged a pattern where the Ballon was passed between Messi and Ronaldo.

Luka Modric: breaking the mold

Both Messi and CR7 are head to head in wins. Messi holds the podium, with 6 awarded Ballon d’Or and is closely followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has amassed 5 awards so far. 

Some even say the award has lost excitement and turned predictable. However, in 2018 a player broke the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon pass. That year, the Croatian midfielder Luka Modrik was awarded the Ballon d’Or.

This came as a surprise to many, mainly because he has not done the soccer superstar path that his Ballon d’Or predecessors have. 

Luka Modric accepting the Ballon d'Or 2018

So, what made him the best player in the world in 2018? The answer is in the World Cup celebrated in Russia. He captained the team and made it perform incredibly well in the competition. The team went through the Cup only to fall in the final against France. A completely unexpected performance. And, to add fuel to the fire, that same year the midfielder also won the Champions League with Real Madrid.

For his performance in the World Cup, he was also chosen MVP in three games against Nigeria, Russia and Argentina. 

But perhaps the best award has been the gratitude of his fellow Croatians, since he is the first Croatian player to win the award.

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