The Ballon d’Or is translated literally as the golden ball, making it a very appropriate award for the best football player in the world. The FIFA Ballon d’Or is currently given to the best player in association football. The initial Ballon was presented for the 2010 season after FIFA decided to merge its World Player of the Year award with France’s golden ball award. The recipient of the award is decided by the votes of international coaches and captains, as well as journalists covering football around the world. Since its inception, the award has been given out twice. Both times, it has been awarded to Lionel Messi of Argentina.
The original Ballon award was given to the European footballer of the year starting in the year 1956. The first person to receive the award was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool. Each year, the award was given out to the player thought to be the best in European football. Notable winners include George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, and Michael Platini. Platini is especially notable for winning the award for three consecutive years.
Prior to 1995, players with no European ties were ineligible for the award. This meant that superstars like Diego Maradona and Pele were unable to acquire the award, regardless of how well they played. In 1995, the committee in charge of the award made changes to allow non Europeans to become eligible to win as long as they played for a European club. In 2007, the award was opened up to players from anywhere in the world. The last time the award was given out was in 2009. In its final year, it was given to Lionel Messi, who went on to win the first two Ballon d’Ors after FIFA began presenting it to the best player in the world.
The players who have won Golden Ball awards are some of the finest players in the history of organized football. These players defined excellence in the sport and emphasized doing the necessary work to help their teams win. Every sport has its awards for the best players, but the Ballon d’Or is, by far, the most prestigious individual prize in team sports.