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  • 26 February 2023

The Ballon d'Or History

The Ballon d'Or was established in 1956 by France Football, a French magazine, and it is awarded annually to the male soccer player deemed to have had the best performance worldwide, as voted on by an international panel of journalists.

The first winner of the Ballon d'Or was Stanley Matthews, a legendary English player who was known for his exceptional dribbling skills and longevity in the game. Matthews played for various clubs throughout his career, including Blackpool, Stoke City, and the England national team.

Lionel Messi, with seven wins, is the most successful player in the history of the award. Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi's chief rival, has won it five times. Other notable winners include Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Marco van Basten, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, and Kaká.

Originally, only European players were eligible for the award, but it was later opened up to players from around the world. The Ballon d'Or has undergone various changes over the years. For example, originally only European players were eligible to win the award, but it has since expanded to include players from all around the world. Additionally, in 1991, the award was briefly merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year award, before separating again in 2010.

One interesting fact about the Ballon d'Or is that it was actually inspired by a similar award that was given out in the United States in the 1930s. The American Soccer League awarded the "Gold Soccer Ball" to the best player in the league each year, and France Football editor Gabriel Hanot decided to create a similar award for European players.

Another fun fact is that the Ballon d'Or has occasionally been awarded to players who were not necessarily the best in the world at the time. In 1995, the award was given to George Weah, a Liberian striker who played for AC Milan. Weah had never won a major trophy with his club or national team, but he was recognized for his individual skills and performances.

Overall, the Ballon d'Or is a symbol of excellence in the world of soccer, and winning the award is considered one of the highest honors a player can receive. As the game continues to evolve and new stars emerge, it will be interesting to see who will take home the coveted trophy in the years to come.

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