Since its inception, the Ballon d’Or, or Golden Ball, has been the gold standard of footballing accolades. With its glittering history spanning over six decades, it has crowned the world’s best footballers, epitomizing their triumphs and celebrating their unparalleled contributions to the beautiful game.
Origins: French Football and Europe’s Best
The Ballon d’Or was conceived in 1956 by the French football magazine, ‘France Football.’ Originally, the award was a tribute to the best player in Europe. The inaugural Ballon d’Or was clinched by Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews, a testament to his exceptional talent and his embodiment of football at its finest.
It wasn’t until 1995 that players from non-European countries became eligible, as long as they were playing for a European club. This inclusion saw legends from various continents competing for the accolade, elevating the status and global reach of the award.
In 2007, the criteria expanded once again, this time to include players from all over the world, regardless of their club’s location. This truly transformed the Ballon d’Or into a global accolade, representing the very best in the world of football.
Merging with FIFA
From 2010 to 2015, the Ballon d’Or merged with FIFA’s World Player of the Year award to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or. This union was short-lived, as both entities decided to part ways in 2016, resuming their individual awards.
Lionel Messi’s relationship with the Ballon d’Or has been nothing short of spectacular. From his first win in 2009, Messi displayed his exceptional prowess, skill, and dedication to the sport. With the news of Messi winning again this year, he further solidifies his position not just as one of the best players of his generation, but arguably of all time. Each of his victories represents a year of mesmerizing performances, incredible goals, and moments of sheer footballing magic.
The Ballon d’Or, with its rich tapestry of winners from various eras and regions, tells the story of football’s evolution, its iconic moments, and its transcendent figures. As players like Messi continue to dazzle fans and etch their names into the annals of history, the Ballon d’Or will stand as a testament to their greatness, echoing their achievements to generations to come.