With the possible exception of mixed martial arts, football, otherwise more commonly known as soccer, is the most popular sport in the world. It is just universal in its concept.
There are probably 20 or so countries that produce top-quality players, but there are certainly elite-level players belonging to specific countries who are quite clearly head and shoulders above the rest.
European powerhouses Argentina, Germany and Portugal are just some of the countries which immediately spring to mind. But which nation has produced the most Ballon d'Or winners? Who can lay claim to having the best football players from around the world?
Here, GIVEMESPORT takes a look at some of the best footballers from the best footballing nations.
Germany is one of only three countries to have won an incredible seven Ballon d'Or trophies and the best place to watch the beautiful game.
While the German national team has arguably taken a hit since the retirement of Mesut Ozil, Germany remains a top footballing nation and is still one of the best countries out of Europe.
=1. Franz Beckenbauer (1972, 1976)
=1. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1980, 1981)
=2. Gerd Muller (1970)
=2. Lothar Matthaus (1990)
=2. Matthias Sammer (1996)
The Netherlands have also won the Ballon d'Or seven times; however, their success has waned in recent years, thanks in part due to a slump in form at international level.
=1. Johan Cruyff (1971, 1973, 1974)
=1. Marco van Basten (1988, 1989, 1992)
2. Ruud Gullit (1987)
While to many Portuguese football is most commonly associated with former Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, their academies have been strong for so many years.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
Ronaldo has been awarded the Ballon d'Or five times (one with United and four with Madrid). The 36-year-old, who currently plays for Serie A giants Juventus, is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.
=2. Eusebio da Silva Ferreira (1965)
=2. Luis Figo (2000)
Sitting comfortably in second place, no player has won the award more than Messi, who became the first Argentinian player to win the Ballon d'Or in 2009.
1. Lionel Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019)
The Argentina superstar has won the award a record six times while playing for Barcelona.
It should come as no surprise that France are currently tied for second place with Kylian Mbappe and N'Golo Kante just two players who could pick up the award in the next couple of years.
1. Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985)
2=. Raymond Kopa (1958)
2=. Jean-Pierre Papin (1991)
2=. Zinedine Zidane (1998)
1. Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima (1997, 2002)
=2. Kaka (2007)
=2. Rivaldo (1999)
=2. Ronaldinho (2005)
Like any professional sport, expect England (and the United Kingdom) to produce a lot of the world's top talent. Sir Stanley Matthews was the first Englishman to win the award in 1956, before Sir Bobby Charlton repeated the same feat ten years later after England won the World Cup in 1996.
1. Kevin Keegan (1978, 1979)
=2. Bobby Charlton (1966)
=2. Stanley Matthews (1956)
=2. Michael Owen (2001)
Italy and Germany are two of the most successful footballing nations with five different players from each country winning the trophy at least once.
=1. Roberto Baggio (1993)
=1. Fabio Cannavaro (2006)
=1. Gianni Rivera (1969)
=1. Paolo Rossi (1982)
=1. Omar Sivori (1961)
=4. Soviet Union
The Soviet Union is perhaps a surprise inclusion on the list considering it no longer exists as a country. However, the federal union was still a force to be reckoned with right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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=1. Igor Belanov (1986)
=1. Oleg Blokhin (1975)
=1. Lev Yashin (1963)
'The Black Panther' is considered by many to be one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the sport.
Spain's low position on the list may surprise some, but the Spanish haven't won the award since Luis Suarez in 1960.
1. Alfredo Di Stefano (1957, 1959)
2. Luis Suarez (1960)
Not to be confused with the former Liverpool and Barcelona striker, Suarez became the only Spanish-born player to win the Ballon d'Or in 1960.
1. Hristo Stoichkov (1994)
The former Barcelona striker is widely considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time.
1. Luka Modric (2018)
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric won the Ballon d'Or Award in December 2018 to break Messi and Ronaldo's 10-year dominance.
=5. Czech Republic
1. Pavel Nedved (2003)
1. Josef Masopust (1962)
It was so long ago that his country doesn't even exist anymore.
1. Allan Simonsen (1977)
1. Florian Albert (1967)
1. George Weah (1995)
The president of Liberia became the first non-European player to win the Ballon d'Or trophy in 1995.
=5. Northern Ireland
1. George Best (1968)
Simply the best. No questions needed.
1. Denis Law (1964)
1. Andriy Shevchenko (2004)
The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker is ranked as the sixth top goalscorer in all European competitions with a tally of 67 goals.News Now - Sport News