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Which players have won the most Ballons d'Or?

The Ballon d'Or returned on Monday evening, as France Football's prestigious awards gala takes place for the first time in two years.

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Which players have won the most Ballons d'Or?
FABRICE COFFRINI AFP

After a year off because of the covid-19 pandemic, the Ballon d’Or gala returned on Monday 29 November, as the prestigious magazine France Football recognised the outstanding performers in men’s and women’s football in 2021.

First Ballons d'Or since 2019 to be awarded at Paris ceremony

At the ceremony, which was held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, four prizes were handed out, headlined by the Men’s Ballon d'Or and Women’s Ballon d'Or. The Yashin Trophy and the Kopa Trophy, given to the best men’s goalkeeper and under-21 player, respectively, will also be awarded.

Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi beat Bayern Munich's Poland striker Robert Lewandowski to the Men’s Ballon d’Or, while Barcelona and Spain's Alexia Putellas picked up the women’s award.

See also:

  • The full lowdown on the Ballon d’Or favourites

Messi extends record Ballon d'Or haul

Lewandowski has yet to win the award - but would surely have claimed the trophy had it not been cancelled in 2020. For Messi, the award is almost an annual event. He is the player to have won the Ballon d’Or the most times with seven trophies. The 34-year-old, who left Barcelona for PSG in the summer, was the recipient of the most recent Men’s Ballon d’Or in 2019, having also picked up the accolade in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and this year.

The next-most frequent winner of the Men's Ballon d'Or is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scooped the prize five times, most recently in 2017. Messi and Ronaldo’s recent domination of the award is such that, in 2018, Luka Modric was the first player outside the pair to win it since Kaká 11 years previously.

Men's Ballon d'Or: the 10 multiple winners

Player Wins Years
Lionel Messi (Argentina) 7 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 5 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Michel Platini (France) 3 1983, 1984, 1985
Johan Cruyff (Netherlands) 3 1971, 1973, 1974
Marco van Basten (Netherlands) 3 1988, 1989, 1992
Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) 2 1972, 1976
Ronaldo (Brazil) 2 1997, 2002
Alfredo di Stéfano (Argentina/Spain/Colombia) 2 1957, 1959
Kevin Keegan (England) 2 1978, 1979
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany) 2 1980, 1981

Hegerberg, Rapinoe and Putellas the only women's winners so far

At the 2021 gala, the Women’s Ballon d’Or was awarded for only the third time. In 2018, its inaugural year, the prize went to Ada Hegerberg of Lyon and Norway, before OL Reign and the United States’ Megan Rapinoe became its second recipient in 2019. Neither player is on this year’s 20-strong shortlist with the 2021 award going to Barcelona's Alexia Putellas.

Age Hegerberg won the first Women's Ballon d'Or in 2018, followed by Megan Rapinoe in 2019.