Messi or Ronaldo: Who won most Ballon d'Or trophies? The 12 awards split between all-time greats

Messi or Ronaldo: Who won most Ballon d'Or trophies? The 12 awards split between all-time greats

The Ballon d’Or is considered the most prestigious individual award in world football.

Awarded by French publication France Football, the Ballon d’Or is a coveted trophy among the top players across the globe. Winning the Golden Ball is synonymous with being crowned the best player in the world. 

Two of the greatest players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, have dominated the award ceremony for over a decade. Since Ronaldo won his first Ballon d’Or in 2008, the two have taken turns atop the global stage.

As rivals on the field for nearly their entire careers, it’s no surprise that the two have jockeyed atop the all-time Ballon d’Or rankings.

MORE: All 30 finalists for the 2022 Ballon d’Or

Most Ballon d’Or awards: Messi or Ronaldo?

The player with the most Ballon d’Or trophies all-time is Lionel Messi who has won it seven times. Behind him is Messi’s long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo with five Ballon d’Or awards.

Together, they won an astonishing 12 Ballon d’Or awards, including 10 in a row from 2008 to 2017. During that 10-year span the pair occupied the top two places in the voting on nine occasions.

Ronaldo, however, has had more second-place finishes, finding himself as runner-up in six editions, while Messi finished second on five occasions. Of their 11 combined second-place finishes, seven came as runner-up to the other. All five of Messi’s second-place finishes came behind Ronaldo.

Messi and Ronaldo are clearly in a stratosphere of their own. Only 10 players all-time have claimed multiple Ballon d’Or awards, while just five individuals have won three or more. Nobody aside from Messi or Ronaldo has won more than three.

Ballon d’Or
Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo

All-time men’s Ballon d’Or wins leaders

The first Ballon d’Or was awarded in 1956 to Blackpool legend Stanley Matthews, one of the greats of the English game.

Dutch giant Johan Cruyff became the first to win it three times in the 1970s. French star Michel Platini won it three times in a row — the first to achieve that feat — in the 1980’s.

Most recently, Messi won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, beating out Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho by a narrow margin for his seventh trophy.

Messi and Ronaldo have won 12 of the last 13 Ballon d’Or awards, with only Luka Modric capable of stopping that run in 2018. Those three are the only active players to have won a Ballon d’Or.

RankPlayerBallon d’Or
Years won
1.Lionel Messi72009, 2010, 2011, 2012,
2015, 2019, 2021
2.Cristiano Ronaldo52008, 2013, 2014, 2016,
3.Michel Platini31983, 1984, 1985
 Johan Cruyff31971, 1973, 1974
 Marco van Basten31988, 1989, 1992
6.Franz Beckenbauer21972, 1976
 Ronaldo21997, 2002
 Alfredo Di Stefano21957, 1959
 Kevin Keegan21978, 1979
 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge21980, 1981