The roll-call of previous winners of the FIFA World Player of the Year award is truly a list of greats, the leading standard-bearers for the world’s most popular sport.
It started with the energy and dynamism of Lothar Matthaus, and later included Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, both of whom carried off the accolade three times. Including current holder Lionel Messi, a total of 14 stars have been named FIFA World Player at least once since 1991, and all of them towered over the footballing world for a 12-month period at the pinnacle of their careers.
To review the list of previous winners, just follow the link in the right navigation.
It includes skilled individuals, playmakers and strikers: Rivaldo, Romario and two-time winner Ronaldinho are previous recipients of the award, as were Roberto Baggio, Luis Figo, Marco van Basten and George Weah. And who could forget Fabio Cannavaro, whose combative brilliance contributed hugely to Italy claiming the FIFA World Cup™ in 2006, and who remains the only defender ever named FIFA World Player.
The next two recipients, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, and current holder Messi, rate as exceptional individuals capable of bringing a crowd to its feet with a stunning piece of skill. "It is a huge honour to receive this award. It is beautiful to have the recognition of coaches and your colleagues from other national teams, it means even more as a result," the Argentina superstar declared on receiving the accolade in December 2009.
In the build-up to this year’s Gala, where the award will be presented for the first time under its new name of FIFA Ballon d'Or, we want your opinions on this question:
Who do you think is the greatest of all the previous winners?
So, it's over to you. Name your favourite, not forgetting to tell us briefly the reasons behind your choice. Click 'Add your comment' to make your opinion known, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, on-topic and in English.