Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Benzema: 15 players with most Ballon d'Or nominations ever

Cristiano Ronaldo with his Ballon d'Or trophies

The 2022 Ballon d’Or nominees were announced on Friday evening and Cristiano Ronaldo made the 30-man shortlist.

Ronaldo, now 37 years old, was brilliant once again in the 2021/22 season.

He became the highest goal scorer in international football history, performed heroics for Man Utd in the Champions League and notched 18 goals in the Premier League.

In total, he scored 32 goals in 49 matches, which is a superb return.

He has managed to keep his incredible streak going of making the Ballon d’Or shortlist in every season since 2004.

That means he has now made the Ballon d’Or shortlist 19 years in a row. That is absurd.

With Ronaldo’s streak in mind, we’ve named the 15 players with the most Ballon d’Or nominations in history using a list created by

Cristiano Ronaldo with his Ballon d'Or trophies
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – JANUARY 12: FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid speaks during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2014 at the Kongresshaus on January 12, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)’s list was published in 2021 so we’ve updated it to reflect the 2022 nominations.

15. Zinedine Zidane – 8

Zidane won the award in 1998 after great success with Juventus and France.

14. Iker Casillas – 8

The legendary goalkeeper was nominated for the Ballon d’Or on eight occasions. He finished fourth in the 2008 edition.

13. Didier Drogba – 8

Drogba came closest to winning the Ballon d’Or in 2007, when he finished fourth.

Didier Drogba in action for Chelsea
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 06: Didier Drogba of Chelsea reacts during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Chelsea FC and Valencia CF at Stamford Bridge on December 6, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

12. Wayne Rooney – 8

No English player has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or more times than Rooney.

11. Samuel Eto’o – 9

Jose Mourinho said about Eto’o in 2019, per BBC Sport: “It’s difficult to understand how Samuel Eto’o never won the Ballon d’Or with the impressive career he had. He was the best striker in the world for several years and I think he deserved a Ballon d’Or but these are things out of our control.”

10. Thierry Henry – 9

Henry, one of the greatest strikers of the 21st century, finished runner-up in the 2003 edition.

Thierry Henry in action for Arsenal in 2003
LONDON – DECEMBER 14: Thierry Henry of Arsenal strikes the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers on December 14, 2003 at Highbury in London, England. Arsenal won the match 1-0. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

9. Neymar – 9

Neymar was unable to add to his tally after failing to make the shortlist for the 2022 award.

8. Gianluigi Buffon – 11

No goalkeeper has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or on more occasions than Buffon.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 11

Zlatan, who will be 41 in October, has not yet hung up his boots. It’s unlikely, but he could add to his 11 Ballon d’Or nominations.

6. Karim Benzema – 12

Surely it’s 12th time lucky for Benzema. He’s the overwhelming favourite to pick up his first Ballon d’Or trophy in October.

Karim Benzema in action for Real Madrid
HELSINKI, FINLAND – AUGUST 10: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates scoring their side’s second goal during the UEFA Super Cup Final 2022 between Real Madrid CF and Eintracht Frankfurt at Helsinki Olympic Stadium on August 10, 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images )

5. Franz Beckenbauer – 12

Germany legend Beckenbauer won the Ballon d’Or twice.

4. Johan Cruyff – 12

Cruyff won the award three times: 1971, 1973 and 1974.

3. Paolo Maldini – 13

It’s a shame that Maldini, one of the greatest defenders ever, never won a Ballon d’Or. he finished third in 1994 and 2003.

2. Lionel Messi – 15

Messi was unable to secure his 16th nomination after an underwhelming 2021/22 campaign at Paris Saint-Germain. He has won the most Ballon d’Or trophies ever with seven.

Lionel Messi with the Ballon d'Or trophy
PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 29: Lionel Messi is awarded with his seventh Ballon D’Or award during the Ballon D’Or Ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet on November 29, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 19

Will Ronaldo get to 20 Ballon d’Or nominations? You wouldn’t bet against him. What he continues to achieve at the age of 37 is inspiring.

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