The history of Ballon d’Or started from 1956 when the France Football magazine decided to honor the best players in Europe specifically by annual prize.
What are the most important facts about this award?
1. The Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) is an annual football award that was introduced by French Magazine France Football in the mid-1950’s. England’s legendary winger Stanley Matthews won the inaugural prize in 1956 and until the mid-1990’s only European players based in Europe were eligible for the award.
2. FIFA presented an award for the World Footballer of The Year for the first time in 1990, with German World Cup winning captain Lothar Matthaus becoming the first winner of the prize.
3. In 1995 France Football changed its rules and non-European players were finally eligible to win the award. In the same year Liberia’s George Weah was crowned European Footballer of the Year.
4. France Football was also awarding an annual Ballon d’Or to the best African Player between 1970 and 1994. Arab winners of this prize included Mahmoud Al Khatib (Egypt), Mohamed Taimoumi, Badou Al Zaki and Ahmed Faras (Morocco), Rabeh Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi (Algeria) and Tarek Dhiab (Tunisia).
5. The FIFA Footballer of the Year Award and France Football’s Ballon d’Or were merged into the FIFA Ballon d’Or Award in 2010, and Lionel Messi of Argentina and FC Barcelona became the first winner of the new award.
6. The voting for the Ballon d’Or involves the coaches and captains of all national teams affiliated with FIFA, in addition to a list of journalists chosen by FIFA and France Football.
7. The Ballon d’Or Trophy was handmade by a team at French Jewellery House Mellerio dits Meller. It has a height of 28 cm and a diameter of 22 cm, with a weight of around 12 kg.
8. Argentina’s Lionel Messi is the favorite for this year’s Ballon d’Or after leading FC Barcelona to five titles in 2015 including the UEFA Champions League. He is already the record winner of the award after dominating the scene between 2009 and 2012.
9. In 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo became the third Portuguese player to win the Ballon d’Or after the legendary Eusebio and Luis Figo. He beat Messi for the trophy over the past couple of years but his hopes of a fourth trophy this year look fragile as he failed to lead Real Madrid to any title during 2015.
10. FC Barcelona’s Neymar improved greatly this year but his performances are still overshadowed by the greatness of Messi and Ronaldo. If he kept on progressing at the same rate it might be a matter of time before he becomes the fifth Brazilian winner of the Ballon d’Or following on the footsteps of his compatriots Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka.