• June 21, 2024

Greatest Ballon d’Or winners in Real Madrid history

Karim Benzema became the latest Real Madrid player to win the Ballon d’Or earlier this week. With the French forward recognised for his exploits in helping the club win the Champions League for a record 14th time as well as securing yet another La Liga title.

In fact, since the award was first bestowed on Stanley Matthews in 1956, no other club has provided more winners, whilst Alfredo Di Stéfano winning it twice whilst playing for Los Blancos, and Cristiano Ronaldo picking up the trophy four times during his spell with the club.

Di Stéfano won the award in 1957 and 1959, with Raymond Kopa, another great French forward, sandwiched in the middle. Both formed part of the great Real side that won the European Cup the first five years it was played.

It would be 31 years before Luis Figo was the next player to win it, the Portuguese wide forward who first became a superstar at Barcelona, before making his highly controversial switch to their bitter rivals,

Figo became one of the Galácticos team of superstars assembled by Florentino Pérez when he first became club president, alongside Zinedine Zidane (who had previously won the award with Juventus, David Beckham, and the Brazilian forward Ronaldo, who won it in 2002.

In 2006, Fabio Cannavaro became the only defender ever to win it, before the Cristiano Ronaldo era began in 2023. He had already won it in 2008 as a Manchester United player, but he and Lionel Messi would go on to dominate the award for the next ten years, with one of other of them wining it eight times (it was not bestowed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.

Ronaldo was also runner-up three times whilst a Real player.

As for who was the best it is difficult to make comparisons across the years because the game has changed and it is now much faster, demanding higher standards of fitness. For some, Di Stéfano was the greatest player that ever lived, with his combination of athleticism, skill, tactical awareness and supreme vision, whilst Ronaldo was one of the best forwards that the world had ever seen when he first broke through, Arguably, Real fans did not see the best of him because, by the time he arrived at the club, injuries had robbed him of a yard of pace.

Figo, too, was regarded as the best player in the world at the time, which is why Real were prepared to pay a world record fee to meet his release clause.

Ronaldo, of course, needs no introduction and is Real’s record goalscorer, and tops the charts with the most goals in both Champions League and international football (even if he does seem hell bent presently on destroying his United legacy).

Now Benzema has taken his own place in such August company. A deserved recipient after what he did for them last season.

Whilst nothing is certain in future, it is safe to predict that the Frenchman will not be the last player to win the prestigious award.