Conceived by sports writer Gabriel Hanot, the Ballon d'Or award originally honoured the male player deemed to have performed the best over the previous year, based on voting by football journalists, from 1956 to 2006. After 2007, coaches and captains of national teams were also given the right to vote. Originally it was an award for players from Europe. In 1995 the Ballon d'Or was expanded to include all players from any origin that have been active at European clubs. The award became a global prize in 2007 with all professional footballers from around the world being eligible.

In 2018 a Women's Ballon d'Or was introduced. It was first awarded to Ada Hegerberg of Norway becoming the inaugural recipient of the award.



YearWinner
1956Stanley Matthews
1957Alfredo Di Stefano
1958Raymond Kopa
1959Alfredo Di Stefano
1960Luis Suarez
1961Omar Sivori
1962Josef Masopust
1963Lev Yashin
1964Dennis Law
1965Eusebio
1966Bobby Charlton
1967Florian Albert
1968George Best
1969Gianni Rivera
1970Gerd Muller
1971Jhan Cruyff
1972Franz Beckenbauer
1973Johan Cruyff
1974Johan Cruyff
1975Oleg Blokin
1976Franz Beckenbauer
1977Allan Simonsen
1978Kevin Keegan
1979Kevin Keegan
1980Karl-Heinz Rummenige
1981Karl-Heinz Rummenige
1982Paolo Rossi
1983Michel Platini
1984Michel Platini
1985Michel Platini
1986Igor Belanov
1987Ruud Gullit
1988Marco van Basten
1989Marco van Basten
1990Lothar Matthaus
1991Jean-Pierre Papin
1992Marco van Basten
1993Roberto Bggio
1994Hristo Stoichkov
1995George Weah
1996Matthias Sammer
1997Ronaldo
1998Zinedine Zidane
1999Rivaldo
2000Luis Figo
2001Michael Owen
2002Ronaldo
2003Pavel Nedved
2004Andriy Shevchenko
2005Ronaldinho
2006Fabio Cannavaro
2007Kaka
2008Cristiano Ronaldo
2009Lionel Messi
2010Lionel Messi
2011Lionel Messi
2012Lionel Messi
2013Cristiano Ronaldo
2014Cristiano Ronaldo
2015Lionel Messi
2016Cristiano Ronaldo
2017Cristiano Ronaldo
2018Luka Modric
2019Lionel Messi