The Ballon d’Or is often called football’s most illustrious individual honour, an accolade which recognises the finest footballer on the planet.
Previously known as the European Footballer of the Year, the award was opened up to all nationalities in the mid-nineties with six non-European winners since the change.
Winning the Ballon d’Or is the ultimate individual honour, but receiving the award on multiple occasions places players among the all-time greats. We’ve looked at the list of players to have won the Ballon d’Or on multiple occasions.
The 10 players to win multiple Ballon d’Or awards:
Alfredo Di Stefano – 2 (1957, 1959)
Real Madrid are widely recognised as the biggest club in world football, a status which Alfredo Di Stefano had a large role in creating. The iconic Di Stefano was the leading light of the Real Madrid team who dominated the early seasons of the European Cup, as the Spaniards claimed five consecutive titles in the competition.
Alongside Francisco Gento and José María Zárraga, he featured in all five victorious finals and was on the scoresheet on each occasion, including a hat-trick in the legendary 7-3 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 decider.
Di Stefano finished as runner-up to Stanley Matthews in the inaugural Ballon d’Or vote, before claiming the accolade in both 1957 and 1959. Recognised as one of the all-time greats of European and Spanish football, he scored 308 goals in his 396 games for Los Blancos.
Franz Beckenbauer – 2 (1972, 1976)
Franz Beckenbauer is a legend of German football, earning the nickname Der Kaiser (The Emperor) after starring during some of the nation’s greatest successes.
Beckenbauer became one of world football’s greatest defenders during a peerless peak in the 1970s, where he won three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976 with Bayern Munich, and both the European Championship (1972) and World Cup (1974) with West Germany.
He is the one of just three defenders to have won the Ballon d’Or and the only defensive player to have won the prize on multiple occasions. Such was his standing, Beckenbauer remains a benchmark for defenders who are comfortable in bringing the ball out from the back. The libero role is one he popularised and mastered.
Kevin Keegan – 2 (1978, 1979)
Kevin Keegan is the only Englishman to have won the Ballon d’Or on multiple occasions, after back-to-back wins in 1978 and 1979.
Keegan had scored 121 goals in 300 appearances for Liverpool, winning three league titles and the European Cup, before a German record move to Hamburg.
He was named as winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1978, before retaining the accolade the following year after scoring 17 league goals to fire Hamburg to the Bundesliga title.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – 2 (1980, 1981)
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge became the next back-to-back winner of the Ballon d’Or during a prolific career at Bayern Munich. The forward scored 217 goals in all competitions for the Bavarians and won two European Cups, two Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokals.
Rummenigge was the leading scorer in the Bundesliga in 1980 and 1981 as Bayern claimed the title in each of those seasons, scoring 75 goals in all competitions across the two campaigns to win successive Ballon d’Or awards.
Ronaldo – 2 (1997, 2002)
Ronaldo became the youngest recipient of the Ballon d’Or after a breathtaking emergence in European football. The Brazilian scored 54 goals in 57 games at PSV Eindhoven to earn a world-record move to Barcelona, where his sensational form continued in the 1996/97 campaign.
Ronaldo scored 47 goals in 49 appearances as Barcelona won a Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup treble, performances which saw him named as winner of the Ballon d’Or aged just 21.
— LALIGA (@LaLiga) October 26, 2019
Another world-record move to Inter Milan followed, before Ronaldo claimed a second Ballon d’Or in 2002. Despite spending much of the previous two years sidelined with serious knee issues, Ronaldo scored eight goals to win the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot as Brazil were crowned world champions in Japan and South Korea.
Johan Cruyff – 3 (1971, 1973, 1974)
Winning the Ballon d’Or twice is special, doing so on three occasions leads us into true footballing immortality. Johan Cruyff’s place in football is indelible, one of the sport’s greatest ever talents and a revolutionary after moving into management.
At his best Cruyff was the best footballer on the planet, with the Dutchman winning three Ballon d’Or accolades in just four years. He won eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups with Ajax, scoring 257 goals in 329 matches, before joining Barcelona in a world-record deal in 1973.
His first season in Spain saw Cruyff lead Barcelona to a first La Liga crown in 14 years, before starring as the Netherlands reached the 1974 World Cup final. The greatest footballer in Dutch football history, and there’s been plenty to choose from.
Michel Platini – 3 (1983, 1984, 1985)
Michel Platini reigned as Europe’s finest footballer during the early eighties, as the Frenchman picked up consecutive Ballon d’Or awards between 1983 and 1985.
Platini won the Capocannoniere award as Serie A’s Top Scorer in each of those years, with his second Ballon d’Or award coming after a sublime 1984, in which Platini led Juventus to a Serie A and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup double and France to the European Championship. That latter tournament saw Platini score nine goals in just five matches for Les Bleus’ victorious side.
Marco van Basten – 3 (1988, 1989, 1992)
Marco van Basten is another three-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, with his first success coming after leading the Netherlands to success at the 1988 European Championship. The striker scored five goals to end the tournament as leading scorer, including a hat-trick against England and that volleyed final winner against the Soviet Union.
Van Basten retained the Ballon d’Or the following year, having scored 32 goals for an AC Milan side who were crowned European Cup winners under Arrigo Sacchi. Van Basten completed his Ballon d’Or treble in 1992, after 29 goals in for the Rossoneri. Milan were crowned Serie A champions without losing a game.
🇳🇱 Happy birthday, Marco van Basten 🎈
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) October 31, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo – 5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
Cristiano Ronaldo has formed part of a duopoly that has dominated this award in the modern era.
Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or on five occasions, the first coming after a 42-goal season at Manchester United in 2007/08. Ronaldo’s goals helped the Red Devils to a Premier League and Champions League double under Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Portuguese forward scoring a crucial goal in that latter final win over Chelsea in Moscow.
Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid in an £80m world record deal in 2009 and claimed four further Ballon d’Or awards during his time in Spain. He became Real Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer after netting 450 goals in 434 games at the Bernabeu.
Lionel Messi – 8 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2023)
Lionel Messi is out in front for the most Ballon d’Or wins having won the award on eight occasions.
Messi’s first award came after leading Barcelona to a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble during the 2008/09 season, before winning six further Ballon d’Or titles.
The Argentine set a new record after scoring 91 goals in 2012, breaking the 85-goal landmark set by former Bayern Munich forward Gerd Muller in a calendar year. Messi’s record return came in just 69 appearances for club and country and included a record-breaking 50 La Liga goals scored in the 2011/12 season.
Messi won his eighth Ballon d’Or crown in 2023 after captaining Argentina to World Cup success in Qatar last winter.