The Ballon d’Or and Literally All You Need To Know About It

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The Ballon d’Or has become a very prestigious award for football players worldwide. Up until 1995, this award was only given to European players, however, that’s changed and we’ve seen players from South America and Africa also win the title.

However, since 2008, we've seen a duopoly of the Ballon d’Or award, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo having won every Ballon d'Or except one! The statistics have been crazy but there are a couple of other worthy contenders to consider.

In this blog, we share all there is to know about the Ballon d'Or to help you on your quest to placing an informed bet.

LATEST UPDATE - Ballon d'Or winners 2021: On 29th November 2021, Lionel Messi won the men's Ballon d'Or, making it a record seventh time, while the favourite Alexia Putellas took home the women's award.

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Top Betting Sites for Ballon d’Or Betting – Best 5 Ranked


When Was the Ballon d'Or 2021 Ceremony?

The much-awaited 2021 Ballon d’Or Ceremony took place on 29th November 2021 in Paris. Apart from the ones mentioned above, there were other football betting sites which geared up to receive bets as the date got closer.


Mens Ballon d'Or 2021 Shortlist

The 30-man shortlist of nominees was revealed on 8th October 2021 by France Football, and the list consisted of the following players (by surname A-Z):

  • 01
    Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG)
  • 02
    Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Ruben Dias (Man City), Simon Kjaer (AC Milan) (PSG)
  • 03
    Nicoló Barella (Inter Milan), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), Jorginho (Chelsea), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Pedri (Barcelona)
  • 04
    Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Phil Foden (Man City), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Harry Kane (Tottenham),Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Lionel Messi (PSG), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Neymar (PSG), Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

Top 10 Men Ballon d’Or Favourites & Odds

The below odds were featured for the Ballon d'Or 2021, with Messi taking home the trophy and Robert Lewandowski walking away with nothing. Messi now has a record-extending collection of seven, having last won this award in 2019, and before that in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015.

RankPlayer Odds Betting Site
#1Robert Lewandowski5/4Betway
#2Lionel Messi7/4Paddy Power
#3Mohamed Salah16/1Betfair
#4Jorginho20/1Paddy Power
#5N’golo Kante32/1William Hill
#6Karim Benzema33/1Betfair
#7Kylian Mbappe50/1SportNation
#8Cristiano Ronaldo50/1Paddy Power
#9Gianluigi Donnarumma66/1Betway
#10Bruno Fernandes66/1William Hill


Women Ballon d'Or 2021 Shortlist

France Football also published the 20-women shortlist nominees for the Women’s Ballon d’Or, which can be seen below:

  • 01
    Christiane Endler (Olympique Lyon), Sandra Panos (Barcelona)
  • 02
    Magadlena Eriksson (Chelsea), Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Irene Paredes (Barcelona), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyon)
  • 03
    Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
  • 04
    Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Pernille Harder (Chelsea), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG), Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Vivienne Miedema (Arsenal), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Ellen White (Manchester City)
  • This award has not been around for a long time, in fact, this is the 3rd time this award will be given out. The last Ballon d'Or was awarded to USA’s Megan Rapinoe after having also won the Golden Boot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.

Alexia Putellas was the favourite to get her hands on the award, and she did. She was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year and also formed part of the Champions League Squad of the Season. The Spanish midfielder played an important part in Barcelona’s Champions League win, also scoring a penalty in the final against Chelsea.

The player who was most likely to challenge Putellas was Australian forward Sam Kerr, who scored 6 in 6 matches during the Olympics, taking her country all the way to the semi-finals. The striker was also named in the PFA’s WSL Team of the Year.


What Happened With the 2020 Ballon d’Or?

The 2020 edition of the Ballon d’Or was cancelled as a result of the pandemic's impact on world football. A few national leagues were cut short, while the EURO2020 was postponed to 2021. Therefore, France Football decided that the award ceremony should be cancelled, and the award was not given out.

However, the Best FIFA Men’s Player award was still given out that year. The top 3 contenders were Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. Robert Lewandowksi ended up winning the title with 52 votes ahead of Ronaldo (38) and Messi (35).

The 2020 award could have easily been Robert Lewandowski’s too after a majestic year in which he helped Bayern Munich secure a historic six trophies during the 2019/20 season: the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League, DFL Supercup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup later on in February 2021.

He also became the only player to win the continental treble as a goalscorer in every competition. He scored more goals in each competition than he played games! 34 goals in 31 Bundesliga games, 6 goals in 5 Cup matches, and 15 goals in 10 Champions League matches. Not only did he finish the season as the Champions League top scorer, but he was also the joint top assist man alongside Angel Di Maria with 6 assists.


Men’s Ballon d'Or 2021 Favourite Players – Year Recap

  • Robert Lewandowski

    It is very difficult to make a case against Lewy getting the award this year. In 2021, he continued his impressive run of form as he finished the 2020/21 season as the top scorer of the Bundesliga, breaking Gerd Müller’s 49-year Bundesliga record with 41 goals in just 29 matches! He also set a Bayern Munich record by scoring in 19 consecutive appearances. Speaking of 19, he also became the first player to win 19 consecutive Champions League matches (he did not play when Bayern lost 2-3 to PSG in April 2021).

    Apart from the above, he was also named the player of the tournament during the FIFA Club World Cup, which Bayern Munich won in February 2021. He has been on fire in front of goal and no one can deny it. He also started off the 2021/22 season in the same manner, scoring 10 goals in the first 9 matches.

  • Lionel Messi

    During the 2020/21 season, Lionel Messi set the record for the most consecutive seasons in which a particular player scored more than 30 club goals - 13 breaking Gerd Muller’s previous record of 12. He also won the Pichichi trophy for ending the season as the top scorer in the La Liga tournament (for the 5th consecutive time). As per the rest of his career, throughout 2021, Lionel Messi has been dribbling past players with ease - he completed the most successful dribbles across all competitions, making his way around the opposition an impressive 228 times. That’s over 40 times more than Alphonso Davies (182), Kylian Mbappe (172), Adama Traore (171) and Neymar (158).

    More importantly, in 2021, Messi carried his country, Argentina, to their first trophy since 1993 with a Copa America win over Brazil in the final. Messi was named the player of the tournament and the joint top scorer alongside Colombia’s Luis Diaz. He was involved in 9 out of the 12 goals scored by Argentina - that’s 75%! This was also Messi’s first international trophy with his home country. After a recent hat-trick against Bolivia, he also became South America’s top male international goalscorer, surpassing the great Pele.

    He may have had a slow start at Paris Saint Germain, but that takes nothing away from the fact that Messi could well make it to a record 7th award.

  • Jorginho

    The Italian midfielder won the EURO 2020 with his national team in the summer of 2021. He played all matches, scoring the decisive penalty in the semi-final against Spain after having played the regista role to perfection during the game. In the final against England, he failed his penalty but luckily, Gigi Donnarumma (another player on the Ballon d’Or list) saved Bukayo Saka’s penalty to give Italy the trophy. Jorginho also won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea in the 2020/21 season, playing in all the matches of the tournament (except one due to suspension) as well as the UEFA Super Cup. His role alongside N'golo Kante proved pivotal for his club to win the prestigious trophy. He also won the UEFA Super Cup with Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel considers him untouchable, and we can see why. In August 2021 he was awarded the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award.
  • Karim Benzema

    After Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid, Benzema stepped right into the limelight and went from potentially being left out of the starting 11 to being the club’s main man. During the 2020/21 La Liga season, Benzema scored more than a third of Real Madrid’s goals in the league - 17 more than anyone else in the club. He also started the 2021/22 season with 9 goals in the first 10 matches, and is considered to be one of the world’s most in-form forwards.

    Not only has he stepped up when his club needed him the most, but he has also done so for his country. Benzema had not played for France since late 2015, but coach Didier Deschamps included him in the 26-man squad for the EURO 2020 and he did not disappoint. Despite competition from Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud for the spots up front, Benzema started all the 4 matches France played and scored a brace against Portugal and another against Switzerland to take his tally to 4 goals in as many matches.

    Benzema also featured in the UEFA Nations League semi-final and final, scoring on both occasions as France won the Nations League trophy, making him the most decorated French player in history with 27 titles won.

  • N’golo Kante

    Here’s another Frenchman on the list of favourites. The hard-working midfielder might not have many goal and assist statistics to back up his performances, but he played a crucial part in Chelsea’s Champions League win. He was presented the Man of the Match award in 4 out of 7 of the knock-out matches played, 3 of them being in the two semi-final legs against Real Madrid and the final against Manchester City! Thomas Tuchel can rest easy knowing he’s got the likes of Kante and Jorginho pulling the strings in midfield. In 2021, he also won the UEFA Super Cup with Chelsea.

    Any football fan will acknowledge Kante’s sterling work and being nominated is proof of that alone, however, is it enough to get him a Ballon d'Or to keep in his impressive trophy cabinet?

  • Cristiano Ronaldo

    Since returning to Manchester United, the Portuguese superstar has not been impressing fans much. However, one cannot forget that Ronaldo won the Serie A Capocannoniere award last season with 29 goals in 33 matches played. After fearing he would join city rivals Manchester City or Paris Saint Germain, the Reds managed to bring him back to Old Trafford. They will be hoping he finds his goalscoring form (as well as his chances for the award) as soon as possible.


Best Players Never To Win a Ballon d'Or

The Ballon d’Or is received for an outstanding performance in a particular year, but it is only awarded to one person per year. What that means is that if a particular player such as Xavi had some 5 or 6 great years but was never the one to reach the headlines, he never ended up getting the award.

Here we will be sharing a list of the best players to have never won a Ballon d’Or. We won’t be mentioning Pele and Maradona since they won honorary Ballons d’Or because they could not receive the award in their playing days as they were not European players.

  • Xavi Hernandez - won the EURO 2008 (and got Player of the Tournament), EURO 2012, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2009 in 2011, FIFA World Cup in 2010 all in the span of 4 years, made it to the top 3 nominees in 2009, 2010, and 2011, but always finished 3rd.
  • Andres Iniesta - won the EURO 2008, EURO 2012 (and won Player of the Tournament and UEFA Best Player in Europe), UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2009 in 2011, FIFA World Cup in 2010 all in the span of 4 years, made it to the top 3 nominees in 2010 and 2012, but finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
  • Gianluigi Buffon - he got close to winning the title in 2006 after the FIFA World Cup win but came second after Fabio Cannavaro. He was named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year 12 times, and won awards such as the UEFA Club Goalkeeper and Footballer of the Year in 2002/03, Best European Goalkeeper 3 times. He was also named IFFHS’s Best Goalkeeper 5 times and won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper of the Decade, 21st Century and Past 25 Years thanks to his performances for Juventus, Parma and Italy.
  • Dennis Bergkamp - the Ballon d’Or runner-up in 1992 and 1993, came third in the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993 and 1997. Won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1997/98. He also was IFFHS’s World Top Goal Scorer in 1992. Recently, when a journalist asked Thierry Henry (who played with the likes of Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho) who the best player he ever played with was, he chose Dennis Bergkamp.
  • Paolo Maldini - it’s always difficult to get a defender to win the Ballon d’Or but Paolo Maldini at his prime could have easily been one. He only managed to make it third place in the 1994 and 2003 Ballon d’Or ceremonies. Apart from a huge number of awards in Italy, he also won the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1994. Had he won the World Cup with Italy that year, he would have surely stood more of a chance against Stoichkov and Baggio for the 1994 Ballon d’Or.

The above are just a few we wish to highlight. There are naturally numerous others, namely: Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Samuel Eto’o, Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Alessandro Del Piero, Steven Gerrard, Jurgen Klinsmann, Eden Hazard, Franck Ribery, Oliver Kahn, Francesco Totti, and Philipp Lahm.


Ballon d'Or Records by Player, Team and Nation

Bar 2020, the Ballon d’Or award has been given out every year since 1956, and there have been some great players to win the prestigious trophy more than once. Below, we see some records related to the Ballon d’Or winners.

Players To Win the Most Ballons D’Or

7 – Lionel Messi – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021
5 – Cristiano Ronaldo – 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
3 – Michel Platini – 1983, 1984, 1985
3 – Johan Cruyff – 1971, 1973, 1974
3 – Marco Van Basten – 1988, 1989, 1992

Players With the Most Consecutive Ballons d’Or Awards

4 – Lionel Messi – between 2009 and 2012
3 – Michel Platini – between 1983 and 1985
2 – Cristiano Ronaldo – 2013 to 2014 and 2016 to 2017
2 – Marco Van Basten – 1988 to 1989
2 – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – 1980 to 1981
2 – Kevin Keegan – 1978 to 1979
2 – Johan Cruyff – 1973 to 1974

Top 5 Clubs With the Most Players To Win the Ballon d’Or

ClubPlayersWinsPlayers Who Won the Ballon d’Or
Real Madrid711Cristiano Ronaldo (4), Alfredo Di Stefano (2), Luka Modric, Fabio Cannavaro, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Raymond Kopa
Barcelona612Lionel Messi (6), Johan Cruyff (2), Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Hristo Stoichkov, Luis Suarez
Juventus68Michel Platini (3), Pavel Nedved, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Baggio, Paolo Rossi, Omar Sivori
Milan68Marco Van Basten (3), Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko, George Weah, Ruud Gullit, Gianni Rivera
Manchester United44Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law

Clubs To Have All Top 3 Ballon d’Or Nominees in a Year

Barcelona in 2010 – Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi
Milan in 1989 – Marco Van Basten, Franco Baresi, Frank Rijkaard
Milan in 1988 – Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard

Top 5 Countries With the Most Different Ballon d’Or Winners

Country Player WinsNames
Germany57Matthias Sammer, Lothar Matthäus, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (2), Franz Beckenbauer (2), Gerd Müller
Italy55Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Baggio, Paolo Rossi, Gianni Rivera, Omar Sivori
France46Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Michel Platini 3), Raymond Kopa
Brazil45Kaka, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (2), Rivaldo
England45Michael Owen, Kevin Keegan (2), Bobby Charlton, Stanley Matthews


Previous 10 Ballon d'Or Award Winners – Male & Female

Last 10 Men’s Ballon d’Or Top 3 Nominees

YearWinnerRunner-Up3rd Place
2019Lionel MessiVirgil Van DijkCristiano Ronaldo
2018Luka ModricCristiano RonaldoAntoine Griezmann
2017Cristiano RonaldoLionel MessiNeymar
2016Cristiano RonaldoLionel MessiAntoine Griezmann
2015Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoNeymar
2014Cristiano RonaldoLionel MessiManuel Neuer
2013Cristiano RonaldoLionel MessiFranck Ribery
2012Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoAndres Iniesta
2011Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoXavi
2010Lionel MessiAndres IniestaXavi

Most Recent Women’s Ballon d’Or Top 3 Nominees

YearWinnerRunner-Up3rd Place
2019Megan RapinoeLucy BronzeAlex Morgan
2018Ada HegerbergPernille HarderDzsenifer Marozsán


All-Time Golden Ball Winner Dream Team

In October 2020, the France Football magazine conducted an internet poll to decide who should form part of the All-Time Dream Team and after gathering all the top contenders, a team of around 140 correspondents chose the first 11. A second and third team were also added. The below first team:

Formation is 3-2-4-1 with Lev Yashin in goal. Maldini, Beckenbauer and Cafu in a back 3. Lothar Matthaus and Xavi in the holding midfield position. Pele and Maradona wide to the left and right respectively. Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi as wingers and Brazil’s Ronaldo as the centre forward.

Tip: We recommend using Kickform for football tips, predictions and odds.


Ballon d'Or FAQs

❗ Which betting site would you recommend for betting on the Ballon d’Or awards?

Out of all the betting sites we’ve checked, we suggest using Paddy Power.

❓ Is the Golden Ball and Ballon d’Or the same award?

Technically, Ballon d’Or translates as Golden Ball from French. However, the Golden Ball is also an award in itself. The Golden Ball is given to the best player in a FIFA World Cup and is different from the Golden Shoe, which is awarded to the World Cup Top Scorer.

⭕ Who has won the Ballon d’Or most times?

Lionel Messi has won this award the most times, with 6 in total. Cristiano Ronaldo has won it 5 times.

❌ Who is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year?

At the moment, the top contenders are Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.


ThePuntersPage Final Say

The Ballon d’Or award always brings along a lot of talk about who the best player in the world is at the moment. After years of witnessing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo breaking record after record, it’s refreshing to see someone like Robert Lewandowski setting records of his own following so much time playing at the highest levels. This could really be his year, but betting against one of the greatest of all times is not an easy task for anyone.