Messi and Ronaldo: 22 new winners if players could only win the Ballon d'Or once


Football is very much a team sport but the Ballon d’Or is the greatest individual accolade in the game.

The annual award is presented by French news magazine France Football and is presented to the player deemed to have performed best over the calendar year.

The award was historically voted for by football journalists but now also includes votes from managers and captains of national teams. It was also previously only given to European players but now includes all players from around the world.

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We say ‘all players’ but, since 2008, it’s been dominated by just two.

The two superstars have claimed the award in 11 of the last 12 editions, with Luka Modric’s win in 2018 breaking up the duopoly.

Messi holds the record with six triumphs to his name, while Ronaldo is one behind. However, this pair aren’t the only players to have won the award on multiple occasions.


Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have all been Ballon d’Or winners on more than one occasion.

But what if that wasn’t allowed? What if you could only win the Ballon d’Or once?

Well, Reddit user has explored that scenario and has worked out there would be 22 new winners of the award.

Check out the list of winners from 1956 to the present day:


The researcher also made some rather interesting conclusions regarding the winners.

  • 22 new winners in this format.
  • Dino Zoff, Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer would join Lev Yashin as the only goalkeepers to win the Ballon D’or.
  • Virgil Van Dijk and Franco Baresi would join Fabio Cannavaro, Matthias Sammer and Franz Beckenbauer as the only central defenders (or sweepers) to win it.
  • Roberto Carlos, Paul Breitner and Paolo Maldini would be the only fullbacks to win it, all of them left-backs.
  • Radamel Falcao would be the only Colombian player to win it and the lowest placed in final voting to win it at number 5.
  • No right-backs

Well, it’s certainly more interesting than the same two players going head-to-head every year…

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