From Champions League to Ballon d'Or: List of players who won the Golden Ball after winning UCL

From Champions League to Ballon d'Or: List of players who won the Golden Ball after winning UCL

The Ballon d’Or, an annual individual honor awarded by France Football that crowns the best player in the world, was launched in the same year that the first European Cup was handed out in 1956.

And it turns out that the award is often influenced by a player’s success in Europe’s top club competition, now known as the UEFA Champions League after its rebrand and revamp in 1992/93.

Real Madrid were the first European Cup champions in 1956, but that year it was the Englishman Stanley Matthews of Blackpool who was awarded the Ballon d’Or. Alfredo Di Stefano, the great figure of the European champion Madrid, finished second in the election.

Although that first year the two trophies did not align, their paths began to merge the following season: Di Stefano won the award in 1957 and 1959, while his teammate Raymond Kopa did so in 1958, all years in which Madrid won the European Cup.

Since then, the number of players who have won the Champions League title followed by the Ballon d’Or has reached 20 out of 65. That’s a 31 percent correlation.

However, the trend has become even more pronounced in recent years: From 2000 onwards, 11 of the 21 Ballon d’Or winners belonged to teams that won the Champions League that season, making up more than half of the winners. However, it has not happened again since 2018 with Luka Modric of Champions League winners Real Madrid.

Ahead of the 2022 Ballon d’Or, the consensus favorite is coming off a Champions League victory: Karim Benzema, Real Madrid’s star player and captain whose incredible season makes him the clear frontrunner.

With his extraordinary 2021/22 campaign, it is likely that Benzema did not even need the Champions League title to secure his first Ballon d’Or. But between 2000-2018, all six of Madrid’s previous Champions League titles were accompanied by the winner of France Football’s award. Will Benzema be next?

MORE:Which Real Madrid players have won the Ballon d’Or in history?

Champions League winners who also won the Ballon d’Or

There have been 65 Ballon d’Or winners in history. The 20 names below won the Champions League (formerly known as the European Cup) in the same year.

1957Alfredo Di StefanoReal Madrid
1958Raymond KopaReal Madrid
1959Alfredo Di StefanoReal Madrid
1968George BestMan United
1969Gianni RiveraAC Milan
1971Johan CruyffAjax
1976Franz BeckenbauerBayern Munich
1985Michel PlatiniJuventus
1989Marco van BastenAC Milan
2000Luis FigoReal Madrid
2002RonaldoReal Madrid
2007KakáAC Milan
2008Cristiano RonaldoMan United
2009Lionel MessiBarcelona
2011Lionel MessiBarcelona
2014Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid
2015Lionel MessiBarcelona
2016Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid
2017Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid
2018Luka ModricReal Madrid