Awarded to the best player in world football, the Ballon d'Or is the ultimate prize for any professional footballer.

It is one of the most coveted individual awards in sport and some of the best players to have stepped onto a football pitch have failed in their pursuit of Ballon d'Or glory.

Here, we look at the five players with the most Ballon d'Or wins and how each star has impacted football betting odds with their performances on the pitch.

Most Ballon d'Or Wins

  • Marco van Basten - 3

  • Johan Cruyff - 3

  • Michel Platini - 3

  • Cristiano Ronaldo - 5

  • Lionel Messi - 8

Messi is the only player to win more than five Ballon d’Or awards and he has cemented his spot as the greatest footballer of all-time. Will anyone ever match the Argentina legend's tally?

Marco van Basten

Van Basten was the forward of his generation. Similar to the Robert Lewandowski of today, he was clearly the best striker in the world, finishing his club career with an incredible 218 goals in 280 games.

Whichever way you look at it, that is an unbelievable record.

The Netherlands striker claimed three Ballon d’Or awards during his career and ranked 25th on a list of the greatest Dutch people of all-time.

Johan Cruyff was the only footballer to rank above him but Van Basten will go down as the country’s greatest ever striker.

Johan Cruyff

A key figure in that dominant Ajax side in the 1970s, Cruyff will go down in history as one of the most influential footballers of his time.

Ajax’s “total football” style was tailor-made for Cruyff and he reaped the rewards, winning the Ballon d’Or in 1971, 1973 and 1974.

The best Dutch footaballer of all-time, Cruyff was the first ever player to win three Ballon d’Or awards in a row and that record can never be broken. He was full value for all three FIFA World Player of the Year triumphs.

Arguably the most naturally gifted player to step onto a football pitch, Cruyff was a man playing at a level way before his time. It was his world.

Michel Platini

Platini was plying his trade for Juventus when he claimed all three Ballon d’Or awards – he was football’s star man in the early 1980s.

His stint at the top was relatively short though, he failed to finish in the top three in any of the non-winning years.

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As well as securing three Ballon d’Or victories, Platini finished sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century voting.

His tenure as FIFA President is shrouded in controversy but there is no doubting his natural ability as a footballer and he thoroughly deserved all three awards.

Cristiano Ronaldo

With five Ballon d’Or triumphs to his name, Ronaldo has been compared directly to Messi throughout his career. Both players are frequently named in football predictions for upcoming matches.

His first success came at Manchester United in 2008 and he was in a league of his own from 2013 to 2017, winning four Ballon d’Or awards in a row.

Clear as the second most decorated player on the list, Ronaldo is in the 'Greatest Of All Time' debate and many believe that his success across Europe - with United, Real Madrid and Juventus - gives him the edge over his rival.

Lionel Messi

Messi won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 – and that success would spark an era of dominance. He has been consistently up there in the FIFA World Player of the Year voting ever since.

Leading Barcelona to unprecedented levels of glory, Messi claimed four Ballon d’Or awards in a row before having to wait until 2015 for his fifth accolade.

Since then, Messi has influenced Paris Saint-Germain to Ligue 1 titles and is now plying his trade in Major League Soccer but his greatest feat - quite possibly of his career - came at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Messi led Argentina to a famous World Cup victory, confirming himself as the greatest footballer to have ever played the game and this led to his eighth Ballon d'Or award in 2023.

His ability to have a positive impact on football matches is unrivalled and his tally of eight Ballon d'Or accolades is unlikely to be emulated.

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Alex is a sports betting tipster, specialising in Premier League football, the Champions League and horse racing.

He loves placing a weekly accumulator on the football at the weekend and dreams of landing the big winner that will take him back to Las Vegas.

As well as writing sports betting tips for 888sport since 2015, Alex has produced content for several international media companies, such as and The SPORTBible.