Twenty Ballon d’Or facts you *actually* didn’t know

Everyone knows Stanley Matthews won the first, and Kaka was the last winner not to be called Lionel or Cristiano. But with the 2017 ceremony being held on Thursday, here are some Ballon d’Or facts you actually won’t know. Unless you do. In which case, shush.

* 49 English players have received at least one Ballon d’Or nomination. David Beckham received the most (10), followed by Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney (both 9), Bobby Moore (7), Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Jimmy Greaves (all 6).

* Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or the most times (5), ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (4) and Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten (all 3).

* France Football, the originators of the award, published a reevaluation of the winners before 1995, when only European players were eligible to win. According to the reevaluation, Pele would be a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, while Garrincha, Mario Kempes, Diego Maradona (twice) and Romario would also have been honoured.

* On only two occasions has the Ballon d’Or’s top three been comprised of players from only one country. In 1981 Germany completed a clean sweep (Rummenigge, Breitner, Schuster), while seven years later, in 1988, the Netherlands dominated the podium (Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard).

* On only three occasions has the Ballon d’Or’s top three been comprised of players from only one club. In 1988 (Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard) and 1989 (Van Basten, Baresi, Rijkaard), AC Milan took home gold, silver and bronze. In 2010, Barcelona (Messi, Xavi, Iniesta) hoarded the honours.

* Germany and the Netherlands (both 7) are tied for most Ballon d’Or wins by country. France and Portugal (both 6) are next, followed by Italy, Brazil, England and Argentina (all 5).

* Liberia have had as many Ballon d’Or winners as Northern Ireland and Scotland (1).

* Barcelona have had the most Ballon d’Or winners by club (11). They are followed by Real Madrid (9), then Juventus and AC Milan (both 8).

* Blackpool and Dukla Prague have had as many Ballon d’Or winners as Liverpool (1), and more than Arsenal (0).

* George Weah was the first non-European and remains the only African Ballon d’Or winner.

* Paul Scholes has received the most Ballon d’Or nominations without ever receiving a single vote (5).

* Before Harry Kane’s 2017 nomination, Jamie Vardy was the only English player to receive a Ballon d’Or nomination since 2012.

* Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or.

* Fabio Cannavaro is the only defender since 1996 to win the Ballon d’Or.

* Jimmy Greaves is the only man to receive a Ballon d’Or nomination in the same year (1961) that he played for three different clubs (Chelsea, Milan and Tottenham).

* John Jensen scored as many goals in 99 league games for Arsenal as he did receive Ballon d’Or nominations (1).

* Jamie Carragher received as many Ballon d’Or votes as Cristiano Ronaldo in 2005. They finished joint-20th.

* Karim Benzema was the only Ballon d’Or nominee not to receive a single vote in 2009. Gary Lineker was right.

* Asamoah Gyan, then of Sunderland, was the second-highest placed Premier League Ballon d’Or nominee in the 2010 vote.

* Cardiff (Ivor Allchurch in 1965), Scunthorpe (Ken Jones in 1959) and QPR (Don Givens in 1975) have all had one Ballon d’Or nominee.

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