Podcast 17: The Ballon D’Or

Winter is closing in and leagues in Europe are approaching the half way stage. On this week’s show we talk about cup competitions, fights, super subs, while our main piece features the Ballon D’Or, recently won by Ronaldo of Manchester United.

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Ronaldo is the new European Footballer of the Year after being presented with the Ballon D’Or trophy earlier this week. With 42 goals, a Premier League title and a Champions League winners medal in his pocket it was always going to be Ronaldo. So, on this week’s main report we take a look at the award itself, the Ballon D’Or.

The Ballon D’Or or Golden Ball award was established by French football magazine France Football in 1956 to showcase the best player on the continent. Now, the first ever winner was English and Blackpool star Stanley Matthews who was then followed by two Spanish greats, Luis Suarez and Alfredo Di Stefano. For a country that has produced a long line of top quality players it is amazing to think that no other Spanish player has won the award since then.

Although the title of the award is European Player of the Year it is now open to players from anywhere in the world, so in effect it is a rival to FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy. The process of deciding the top player is a rather complicated one with the magazine first of all choosing 50 players they feel have performed at a high level throughout the year. Then, 96 journalists from all around the world choose five of these players and place them in order; giving five points to the best player, four for second, three for third and so on. Whichever player then has the most points is the Ballon D’Or winner.

Three players who have won the coveted award on three different occasions are Michel Platini who won it three years in a row from 1983 to 1985, Johan Cruyff won it three times between 1971 and 1974, with two different clubs, Ajax and Barcelona, while fellow Dutchman Marco Van Basten won it in 1988, ’89 and in 1992 when he starred for the Netherlands in their European Championship win. Winners do tend to come from successful international winning teams, thus Matthias Sammer from Germany in 1996, Zidane for France in 1998, Brazil’s Ronaldo in 2002 and Italian skipper Cannavaro in 2006. Unfortunately for 2008 European Championship winning captain and Real Madrid title winner Iker Casillas, this trend did not continue this year. The fact that he is a goalkeeper probably did not help his cause either as only one ever keeper has won the award, that’s Russian Lev Yashine in 1963. Strikers have always been the preferred choice of voters and the past few years winners have included, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Schevchenko and even Michael Owen in 2001. Therefore, 42 goals in one season was always going to be enough for Ronaldo to walk off with this year’s award.


I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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