The Super Ballon d'Or Ultimate Guide for the Ultimate prize

The Super Ballon d'Or won by Alfredo Di Stéfano on 24 December 1989
The Super Ballon d'Or won by Alfredo Di Stéfano on 24 December 1989

Every once in a while, a player transcends the sport and becomes an icon of success and brilliance. The Super Ballon d’Or is the ultimate epitome of honouring players like this, so we’re going to take a look at who won the Super Ballon d’Or, and who might win it in the years to come.


published 18:03, 02 February 2024

The Super Ballon d'Or – Football's Most Illustrious Honour

In the world of football, where the pursuit of excellence never rests, the Super Ballon d’Or stands alone as the pinnacle of individual achievement.

This isn’t just another trophy to adorn a player’s crowded mantlepiece, and to place alongside his Golden Boots and Player of the Year trophies, this is a lifetime award that singles a player out as among the greatest who has ever lived. The Super Ballon d’Or winners list has just a single name to date – Alfredo Di Stéfano, who clinched the unique award in 1989.

The Di Stefano Super Ballon d’Or win stands alone as the defining symbol of footballing achievement, celebrating a legacy that transcends generations.

As we delve into the story behind this unique accolade, we uncover what makes the Super Ballon d’Or the ultimate symbol of footballing greatness. Join us on a journey through the annals of football history, exploring the legend of the Super Ballon d’Or and the icons who have shaped the beautiful game.

Super Ballon d'Or Displayed at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium museum

Super Ballon d’Or was on display at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium museum till 2021(source- Imago)

Alfredo Di Stefano and the Super Ballon dOr Legacy

What is the Super Ballon d’Or?

The Super Ballon d’Or is perhaps the greatest individual accolade a professional footballer can receive and remains the most exclusive (and elusive) award on the planet. Awarded by the magazine France Football on Christmas Eve 1989, the Super Ballon d’Or is the prize that marked the best football player of the previous three decades, with the votes being decided by the France Football jury, as well as a host of previous Ballond’Or winners.

Who clinched the Super Ballon d’Or prize?

In the grand theatre of football, where legends carve their names with boots and brilliance, the Super Ballon d’Or stands as the ultimate accolade, a rare gem bestowed just once. Back in ’89, this honour was lavished upon Alfredo Di Stéfano, the maestro whose boots danced across pitches, weaving a career so stellar it soared beyond mere mortality. Whilst former FIFA President Michel Platini was also on the Super Ballon d’Or nomination list, it was Spanish-Argentine legend Di Stéfano who landed the glorious accolade.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill gong; it’s the crowning jewel, given just once, to acknowledge not only a player’s wizardry with the ball but their indelible stamp on the beautiful game. Alfredo Di Stéfano is a titan whose shadow stretches far across the footballing realm. This wasn’t about who dazzled brightest in a season; it was about crowning a juggernaut whose influence reshaped football’s very fabric. Di Stéfano, with his balletic grace and predatory instincts, was a phenomenon, a player who redefined the art of the beautiful game.

Alfredo Di Ttefano in the Santiago Bernabéu 1956

Alfredo Di Ttefano in the Santiago Bernabéu 1956(source: Imago)

But why did Alfredo Di Stéfano win the Super Ballon d’Or?

Picture this: Di Stéfano, the “Blond Arrow,” sprinting, scoring, and scheming, his boots scripting Real Madrid’s golden era with five back-to-back European Cups, a haul worthy of any Super Ballon d’Or award. Yet, it was also his omnipresence on the field, his tally of 216 league goals, countless assists, and a trophy cabinet bursting at the seams that etched his name in legend.

Di Stéfano’s legacy is a masterclass in footballing greatness, transcending goals and titles to embody the spirit of the game, and inspire a generation of younger players. His story, rich with victories and virtuoso performances, defines greatness and paints a legendary picture of how to win Super Ballon d’Or glory. True legends live forever in the hearts of fans, and the annals of football history.

This is the essence of the Super Ballon d’Or, and Di Stéfano, its sole but worthy recipient, remains a beacon of footballing excellence that lights up the path for all who follow. Surely earned his place in FootySamba’s list of the top 10 best strikers in the world, and should the Super Ballon d’Or winners list grow in the years to come, Di Stefano will remain perhaps the most important recipient of the award.

Assessing the Future of the Super Ballon d'Or

Who Might Be Future Super Ballon d’Or Winners?

In the competitive arena of football, where heroes are made and legends are born, the conversation often turns to who might next achieve the pinnacle of success.

Super Ballon d'Or awarded to Di Stefano on 1989

Super Ballon d’Or awarded to Di Stefano in 1989(source: Imago)

While the Super Ballon d’Or remains a unique and singular award, the speculation about potential future recipients offers insight into the qualities that define footballing greatness.

Who are the Current Giants and Future Icons?

The football landscape is rich with talent that transcends mere statistics. Players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have not only dominated the sport with their extraordinary abilities but have also elevated the game, setting new standards for excellence and achievement. Their careers, filled with accolades and memorable moments, serve as benchmarks for what it means to be a contender for such prestigious recognition.

What Sets a Super Ballon d’Or Contender Apart?

It’s not just the silverware or the highlight reels that carve out the path to being a Super Ballon d’Or-worthy icon; it’s the indelible impact on the fabric of the game. Imagine those players who become the very heartbeat of football—captivating, inspiring, and leaving a legacy that resonates with every kick of the ball.

It’s about those who bring magic to the pitch, turning moments into memories and elevating the sport to new heights.

When Will the Next Super Ballon d’Or Be Awarded?

It’s unclear at the moment whether there is definitely going to be another award given, but the suggestion is that the next Super Ballon d’Or date will be 2029. This does make a degree of sense considering the first and only time it was presented was 1989, so when considering the question, will the Super Ballon d’Or be given again?, being able to recognize greatness over four decades seems like a good fit for such an award.

Which Emerging Talents Are on the Horizon?

The next generation of football stars is already making waves, with players like Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland showcasing the potential to redefine the sport in their own right.

These young talents represent the future of football, embodying the drive, skill, and passion that could one day see them considered for football’s most illustrious honours. Make no mistake, these two heavyweights are bound to be in the conversation for future Super Ballon d’Or awards.

Top Ten Leading Contenders for Super Ballon d'Or Recognition

The World’s Greatest Names

There are only an elite few names who would be in the running for such a prestigious award, and knowing how to win the Super Ballon d’Or is a mystery that would elude most players. Here is a list of who we at FootySamba believe to be the best and biggest names with a realistic chance of adding their names to the future Super Ballon d’Or winners list:

Lionel Messi: The Architect of Football’s Golden Era

Messi showcasing all of his Ballon d'Or awards

Messi has won the most Ballon d’Or awards in history(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 2004-present
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2022
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (4), La Liga (10), Copa America (2021), FIFA World Cup (2022)
  • Outstanding Stats: Over 700 career goals
  • Reasons for Ranking: Lionel Messi, the diminutive genius from Rosario, has not just played football; he’s redefined it. With a record eight Ballon d’Or wins, his magic on the pitch for Barcelona and Argentina has been a blend of artistry, intelligence, and unparalleled skill. Messi’s influence goes beyond trophies, captivating fans and inspiring future generations with moments of sheer brilliance that underscore his legendary status. With a very high chance of winning any future Super Ballon d’Or, Messi is a name that will remain in football folklore forever.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Extremely High

Cristiano Ronaldo: The Supreme Football Gladiator

Cristiano RonaldoShocasing his Ballon d'Or awards at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Cristiano Ronaldo Showcasing his Ballon d’Or awards at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 2002-present
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (5), Premier League (3), La Liga (2), UEFA European Championship (2016)
  • Outstanding Stats: Over 800 career goals
  • Reasons for Ranking: Cristiano Ronaldo’s storied career is a saga of determination, exceptional talent, and relentless ambition. From his early days at Sporting Lisbon to stardom at Manchester United, and then to becoming Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer, Ronaldo’s journey has been marked by spectacular goals and record-breaking performances. His five Ballon d’Or awards attest to his enduring excellence and pivotal role in Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph, marking him as one of football’s greatest icons. Also, he is considered one of the fastest footballers ever.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Extremely High

Johan Cruyff: The Mastermind Behind Modern Football

Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or award three times

Johan Cruyff is one of Barca Fc’s greatest players ever (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1964-1984
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1971, 1973, 1974
  • Significant Achievements: 3 European Cups, La Liga (1), Eredivisie (9)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Johan Cruyff revolutionized football with his philosophy and on-field brilliance. As the linchpin of Ajax’s dominance and a catalyst for Barcelona’s identity, Cruyff’s influence extended beyond his playing days, shaping the sport’s future. His vision and style epitomized “Total Football,” leaving a legacy that endures in the game’s tactical evolutions.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Very High

Michel Platini: The Midfield Genius

Michel Platini won the Ballon d'Or three years in a raw

Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or three years in a raw (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1972-1987
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Significant Achievements: European Cup (1), Serie A (2), European Championship (1984)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Michel Platini’s unparalleled midfield artistry and knack for goal-scoring propelled Juventus and France to numerous triumphs. Known for his precision and intelligence, Platini’s contributions as a player and leader on the pitch were instrumental in defining a golden era for both club and country. Will forever be considered as one of the best midfielders who ever played.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: High

Marco van Basten: The Epitome of Striking Brilliance

Marco van Basten with his Ballon d'Or award

Marco van Basten four times Ballon d’Or winner (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1981-1995
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1988, 1989, 1992
  • Significant Achievements: European Cup (2), Eredivisie (3), European Championship (1988)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Marco van Basten’s career, though cut short by injuries, was marked by moments of extraordinary talent and memorable goals. His technique and lethal finishing made him one of football’s most feared strikers, leaving a legacy celebrated for its brilliance and grace.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: High

Franz Beckenbauer: The Kaiser of Football

Franz Beckenbauer is the only defender who won the Ballon d'Or twice

Franz Beckenbauer is the only defender who won the Ballon d’Or award two times (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1964-1983
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1972, 1976
  • Significant Achievements: World Cup (1), European Cup (3), Bundesliga (4)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Franz Beckenbauer redefined the sweeper role, blending defensive solidity with playmaking prowess. His leadership on and off the pitch led Germany and Bayern Munich to unparalleled success, establishing him as a pioneering figure in football’s history.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: High

Ronaldo Nazario: The Phenomenon

Ronaldo Nazario The Phenomenon

Ronaldo Nazario (Phenomenon) is the youngest Ballon d’Or winner (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1993-2011
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1997, 2002
  • Significant Achievements: World Cup (2), La Liga (2), UEFA Cup (1)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Ronaldo Nazario’s breathtaking speed, skill, and finishing transformed the striker role, making him a global icon. His performances in the World Cup and for clubs across Europe showcased a talent that transcended the sport, inspiring awe and admiration. He is the youngest player to win the Ballon d’Or
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate to High

Zinedine Zidane: The Maestro of Elegance

Zinedine Zidane holding his Ballon d'Or award

Zinedine Zidane – his impact on the french team of 1998 was remarkable(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1989-2006
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1998
  • Significant Achievements: World Cup (1), Champions League (1), La Liga (1) Serie A (2)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Zinedine Zidane, known for his elegance, vision, and clutch performances, has left an indelible mark on football. His iconic moments for Juventus, Real Madrid, and France underscore a legacy defined by brilliance, creativity, and leadership.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate to High

George Weah: The Trailblazing Talent

George Weah- the first only African to win the Ballon d'Or award

George Weah- the first only African to win the Ballon d’Or award (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1985-2003
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 1995
  • Significant Achievements: Serie A (2), Ligue 1 (1), FA Cup (1) African Footballer of the Year (3)
  • Reasons for Ranking: George Weah broke barriers as one of the most formidable strikers of his time and the only African Ballon d’Or winner. His powerful play and success in Europe not only marked him as a top player but also as a trailblazer for future generations.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate

Ronaldinho: The Magician of the Ball

Ronaldinho Ballon d'Or winner of 2005

Ronaldinho- won all every prestigious international award out there (source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1998-2015
  • Ballon d’Or Wins: 2005
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (1), La Liga (2), Copa Libertadores (1) World Cup (1)
  • Reasons for Ranking: Ronaldinho captivated the world with his infectious joy, technical mastery, and moments of magic for Barcelona and Brazil. His unique flair and ability to inspire wonder on the pitch have ensured his place among football’s most beloved legends.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate

Honourable Mentions

Luka Modrić: The Midfield Maestro

Luka Modrić Ballon d'Or Winner of 2018- had an amazing season

Luka Modrić Ballon d’Or Winner- years of midfield domination(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 2003-present
  • Ballon d’Or Win: 2018
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (4), La Liga (2), FIFA World Cup Runner-up (2018)
  • Reasons for Inclusion: Luka Modrić, with his exceptional vision and midfield dominance, has been instrumental in Real Madrid’s recent success and Croatia’s remarkable World Cup journey. His Ballon d’Or win in 2018 broke the decade-long Messi-Ronaldo duopoly, highlighting his critical role in both club and international football. His stamina, vision and even defensive skills made him a whole player, which could have easily entered FootySamba’s list of best CDM of all time.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Considerable

Fabio Cannavaro: The Defensive Titan

Fabio Cannavaro Ballon d'Or Winner of 2006

Fabio Cannavaro Ballon d’Or Winner was one of the st defenders of all time(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1992-2011
  • Ballon d’Or Win: 2006
  • Significant Achievements: FIFA World Cup (2006), La Liga (1) UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1)
  • Reasons for Inclusion: Fabio Cannavaro’s leadership and defensive prowess anchored Italy to their 2006 World Cup victory. His exceptional performances throughout his career not only earned him the Ballon d’Or but also underscored the art and significance of defensive mastery in football.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate

Andriy Shevchenko: The Eastern European Legend

Andriy Shevchenko Ballon d'Or Winner 2004

Andriy Shevchenko Ballon d’Or Winner 2004

  • Career Period: 1994-2012
  • Ballon d’Or Win: 2004
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (1), Serie A (1), Eastern European Footballer of the Year (6 times)
  • Reasons for Inclusion: Andriy Shevchenko’s lethal goal-scoring and decisive performances for Dynamo Kyiv and AC Milan made him one of the most feared strikers of his era. His Ballon d’Or win celebrates his brilliance and impact, marking him as a key figure in European football.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate

Pavel Nedvěd: The Heartbeat of Juventus

Pavel Nedvěd Ballon d'Or Winner 2003

Pavel Nedvěd Ballon d’Or Winner 2003(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 1991-2009
  • Ballon d’Or Win: 2003
  • Significant Achievements: Serie A (2), UEFA Super Cup (1)
  • Reasons for Inclusion: Pavel Nedvěd, known for his tireless energy and skill, was a driving force for Juventus and the Czech Republic. His 2003 Ballon d’Or win recognized his vital contributions and dynamic performances, earning him a place among football’s elite midfielders.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate

Kaka: The Graceful Playmaker

Kaka Ballon d'Or Winner 2007

Kaka Ballon d’Or Winner 2007(source: Imago)

  • Career Period: 2001-2017
  • Ballon d’Or Win: 2007
  • Significant Achievements: Champions League (1), Serie A (1), La Liga (1)
  • Reasons for Inclusion: Kaka’s pace, vision, and elegance on the ball were instrumental in AC Milan’s and Real Madrid’s successes. His Ballon d’Or win in 2007 highlights a career defined by creativity, leadership, and memorable moments that have left a lasting impression on the sport.
  • Likelihood of Super Ballon d’Or Recognition: Moderate


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