5 Youngest Players To Win The Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi Claims 3rd Spot

Lionel Messi Is One Of The Youngest Players To Win The Ballon dOr
Lionel Messi Is One Of The Youngest Players To Win The Ballon dOr

The Ballon d’Or is the most coveted individual honor in soccer. Every aspiring soccer player worth his salt dreams of adding it to his trophy cabinet, but climbing atop the hallowed podium is easier said than done. The voters are not just convinced by outlandish performances, they are equally interested in how the said displays impacted the outcome.

Needless to say, it is mighty difficult to meet the criteria, even more so for young players. Yet, some have defied the odds over the years, reached the summit of soccer at an age unimaginable for most. Now, without further ado, let’s check out the five youngest Ballon d’Or winners in history.

#5 Oleg Blokhin – 23 years, 1 Month, and 25 days

Oleg Blokhin Is One Of The Youngest Player To Win The Ballon d'Or
Oleg Blokhin Won The Award In 1975

Aged 23 years, one month, and 25 days, Soviet Union star Oleg Blokhin won the Ballon d’Or in 1975. He became only the second player from the Soviet Union, after Lev Yashin in 1963, to win the prestigious award.

Blokhin, who won the award as a Dynamo Kyiv player, won the award on the back of a double-winning campaign with the Ukrainian club. He scored 23 goals in 36 appearances as Kyiv bagged the Soviet Top League and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

#4 George Best – 22 years, 7 Months, and 2 days

George Best Is The Youngest Manchester United Player To Win The Ballon d'Or
George Best Won The Golden Ball In 1968

Manchester United icon George Best became the youngest player to win the Ballon d’Or when he claimed the coveted trophy in 1968. He was 22 years, seven months, and two days old at the time.

Best was named the finest player in Europe after he played a starring role in guiding the Red Devils to European Cup glory in the 1967-68 season. The Northern Irishman scored an impressive 32 times in 53 games across competitions. He also won the FWA Footballer of the Year and the First Division Golden Boot that season.

#3 Lionel Messi – 22 years, 5 Months, and 7 days

Lionel Messi Is One Of The Youngest Players To Win The Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi Won His First Ballon d’Or In 2009

Aged 22 years, five months, and seven days, Lionel Messi won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009, following a Treble-winning season with boyhood club Barcelona. On Monday (October 30), the Argentine won his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or, having helped Argentina to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Messi, who won six of his eight Ballon d’Or Awards at Barcelona, enjoyed a jaw-dropping 2008-09 campaign. He played 51 games that season, scoring 38 times and providing 19 assists, helping Barca to UEFA Champions League, La Liga, and Copa del Rey glory.

#2 Michael Owen – 22 years and 4 days

Michael Owen Is The Youngest English Player To Win The Ballon d'Or
Michael Owen Was 22 Years And 4 Days Old When He Won The Ballon d’Or

One of the most prolific English attackers in history, Michael Owen won the Ballon d’Or in 2001. He was just 22 years and four days old when he reached the pinnacle of soccer.

Owen’s triumph came on the back of an explosive campaign for Liverpool. The striker appeared in 46 games for the Reds in the 2000-01 season, scoring 24 times and providing eight assists. His heroics helped the Merseysiders to a cup treble, with then-Gerard Houllier’s side winning the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, and English League Cup.

#1 Ronaldo Nazario – 21 years, 3 months, and 5 days

Ronaldo Nazario Is The Youngest Player In History To Win The Ballon d'Or
Ronaldo Nazario Was The Last Inter Player To Win Golden Ball (1997)

Arguably the greatest center-forward the world has ever seen, Brazil icon Ronaldo Nazario won his first Ballon d’Or in 1997, aged just 21 years, 3 months, and 5 days. His triumph came on the back of an unforgettable 1996-97 campaign at Barcelona.

Ronaldo featured in 49 games for the Blaugrana that season, scoring an astonishing 47 times and providing 13 times. His exploits helped Barca to the Copa del Rey, the Europapokal der Pokalsieger, and the Supercopa de Espana trophies that season. Nazario won his second Ballon d’Or award in 2002 after helping Brazil to the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

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