Believe it or not, English players have been known to win football’s most coveted individual award—though it has been two decades since a homegrown talent last took home the Ballon d’Or.
Given the stranglehold that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have held in the ceremony’s recent history, it’s been fairly easy to see the whole thing as a bit of write-off outside of the duo.
However, it appears there could finally be a changing of the guard, with Robert Lewandowski in with more than half a chance of joining Luka Modric in being the only other name to win since Kaka did in 2007.
Also nominated this year are four familiar faces, in Harry Kane, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden. While it’s probably fair to assume none of them will take the top honour, it’s encouraging to see at least a few names from the England setup get a mention.
Despite the lack of winners, throughout the years we have seen a number of England stars notch up multiple nominations—below we’ve reeled off some of the names to have been recognised on more than one occasion.
David Beckham – 10 nominations
The former Manchester United man holds the record for most nominations of any English player. He came closest to winning in United’s famous treble year in 1999, when only Rivaldo could edge him out.
Wayne Rooney – 9 nominations
The peak Wayne Rooney years were a sight to behold—cementing himself as one of England’s all-time greats, he became record scorer for both Manchester United and the national side.
Bobby Charlton – 9 nominations
1966 was some year for Bobby Charlton, scooping both the World Cup and Ballon d’Or in the same season to secure his status as one of the best to ever grace the game.
Bobby Moore – 7 nominations
Dubbed ‘the greatest defender he’d played against’ by Pele, Moore finished runner-up in 1970, and was incredibly unfortunate to never win in any of his other seven mentions.
Steven Gerrard – 6 nominations
Despite that elusive Premier League title, Gerrard’s career was laden with countless other honours, from three appearances in the FIFA Team of the Year to that famous Champions League final win over AC Milan.
Peter Shilton – 6 nominations
England men’s team leading appearance holder, Shilton also boasts the record for most competitive appearances in world football, spread across a wildly successful 30-year career.
Jimmy Greaves – 6 nominations
Greaves was as prolific as they come. The highest goalscorer in the history of the English game, he also scored more hat-tricks for the national side than anyone else.
Michael Owen – 6 nominations
England’s last Ballon d’Or winner bagged the award in 2001, three years after first being nominated after unforgettably bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old at the 1998 World Cup.
Gary Lineker – 5 nominations
Lineker’s goalscoring record throughout his career was nothing short of freakish—with 330 goals in 567 games, he is the only player to have finished top scorer in England with three different clubs.
Frank Lampard – 5 nominations
A central figure in Chelsea’s dominance in the noughties, Lampard came agonisingly close to winning the Ballon d’Or in 2005, when he finished second to Ronaldinho.
Bryan Robson – 5 nominations
The longest-serving captain in Manchester United history, Robson won two Premier Leagues, three FA Cups, one League Cup, two Charity Shields and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Kevin Keegan – 4 nominations
In terms of best returns, winning the Ballon d’Or twice from four nominations takes some beating. That’s exactly what Keegan managed, claiming the award for two years on the bounce in 1978 and 79.
Paul Scholes – 4 nominations
Perhaps Scholes’ total nominations would have been slightly higher if he hadn’t been sacrificed to make room for Lampard and Gerrard in the England setup, especially given the worldwide admiration of his reputation at club level.
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