It is that time of the year when most football fans focus on the Ballon d’Or. In about three weeks, the best player of the year will be awarded the Ballon d’Or while fans will debate whether he deserved to win.
However, this list is not about the future. Rather, the focus is on the past here. A great many players have won the award but this list focuses on the senior citizens.
Here are the five oldest players to win the prestigious individual accolade…
5. Fabio Cannavaro – 33 years, 2 months and 14 days
Remember the 2006 World Cup? It was a tournament lit up by performances from older players. Zinedine Zidane, at the age of 36, dragged France to the final, where they lost to Italy, who were being led by the mercurial Fabio Cannavaro.
Cannavaro was at his best in the tournament and was simply unbeatable in all the matches that he played. In the end, Italy won the World Cup and Cannavaro received the Ballon d’Or in 2006 at the age of 33.
4. Luka Modric – 33 years, 2 months and 24 days
When Cannavaro won the Ballon d’Or, he became the oldest player to win the accolade in this millennium. That record stood for over a decade and it wasn’t until last year that it was broken.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had won all 10 Ballon d’Or awards from 2008 to 2017. In 2018, however, the streak was broken by Luka Modric.
After winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup, where he helped Croatia reach the final, the Galacticos star was awarded the Ballon d’Or at the age of 33 years, 2 months and 24 days.
He was just 10 days older than Cannavaro when the Italian received his Ballon d’Or trophy, which now makes him the oldest player in this millennium to win the honour bestowed by France Football.
3. Alfredo di Stefano – 33 years, 5 months and 11 days
Real Madrid might not have been the club they are today if it wasn’t for the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano. His signing absolutely changed the complexion of the club as he led Los Blancos to five straight European Cups from 1955-56 to 1959-60.
The Argentine won the Ballon d’Or for the first time in 1957 and then won it again in 1959 – becoming the first player to win it twice. When he won it for the second time, he was 33 years, 5 months and 11 days old, making him the third-oldest player of all time to win the award.
2. Lev Yashin – 34 years, 1 month and 25 days
The former Soviet Union star is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper of all time. He was so good between the sticks that legends of his brilliance still echo in the football fraternity.
Yashin was nicknamed the Black Panther because he wore dark-blue/black attire from head to toe. While sweeper-keepers are the trend right now, Yashin was way ahead of his time as he was perhaps the first goalkeeper who rushed out to clear attacks and act as a sweeper in the process.
In 1963, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or for his performances that year and to date, he remains the only goalkeeper to ever win the accolade.
1. Stanley Matthews – 41 years, 10 months and 17 days
They say that records are meant to be broken. Some records, however, are eternal and will stand the test of time. Stanley Matthews – nay, Sir Stanley Matthews is one such legend who can never be beaten in this regard.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest English players of all time and holds the eternal record of being the first ever footballer to win the Ballon d’Or in 1956. Not only that, he was almost 42 at the time and given how players have to play almost 60 games in a season, it is almost impossible for anyone to be older than that and win the Ballon d’Or in the future.
While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the undisputed kings of the Ballon d'Or, these five are the oldest players to have won the award...