The award for best football player of the World started being attributed in 1956 by the renowned magazine “France Football”.
The Trophy was (and still somehow is) named Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball).
The first footballer to be elected World’s Number 1 was Englishman Stanley Mathews and the last one under this exclusive France Football format was Lionel Messi in 2009.
Although FIFA also awarded a trophy for World’s best player (World Player of the Year) between 1991 and 2009, the France Football trophy always was the effective and most recognised prize for that purpose.
From 2009 onwards the trophy changed its name to ‘FIFA’s Ballon d’Or’ resulting from a merger of France Football and FIFA’s awards.
The first winner under this new format was Lionel Messi that took the award again in 2011 and 2012 making it 4 in a row, beating Michel Platini (1983-1985), current UEFA’s Chairman, former record 3 in row. Only two other players have been distinguished 3 times, but not consecutively (both Dutch players Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten).
Netherlands precisely, as well as Germany, are the countries that saw their footballers being distinguished more times (7).
Portugal holds 3 trophies: Eusébio (1965), Figo (2000) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2008).
Apart from European and South American players, only another continent enters this hall of fame: Africa, when Liberian footballer, George Weah, was distinguished in 1995.
The club wich players were more times elected World’s best player is Barcelona with 10 trophies: Messi (4), Cruyff (2), Ronaldo (1), Ronaldinho (1), Rivaldo (1) and Stoichkov (1).
The election is made through votes of national teams coaches and captains, as well as sports journalists.
The 2012 best world player will be known next January 6th. Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be in a better position to take a second Ballon d’Or