With just a little over two weeks to go before the Ballon d’Or winner for this year is announced, most of the focus has shifted towards the event.
Like last year this year also seems unpredictable, with Lionel Messi, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane the frontrunners to win the award.
However, the focus of this list is on the ones that have already won the most prestigious individual honour that the football fraternity has to offer – or, more precisely, the youngest ones to win it…
5. Oleg Blokhin – 23 years, 1 month and 25 days
One of the finest forwards of the Soviet era, Oleg Blokhin played for Dynamo Kyiv for most of his career. His pace and acceleration were his best assets as he left defenders chasing shadows as he ran past them.
This is the aspect of his game that allowed him to score a lot of goals for his side. He finished with 266 goals from 582 matches for the Ukrainian side and was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1975 at the mere age of 23.
4. George Best – 22 years, 7 months and 2 days
For many Manchester United fans, he will forever be the best talent to ever grace the pitch at the Old Trafford. Even with his problems with alcoholism, he managed to become a legend with the Red Devils.
There is no assuming as to how good he could have been had he lived a disciplined life but what he achieved with United was still remarkable nonetheless.
He won the Ballon d’Or in 1968 after helping United win the European Cup that year while also scoring 32 goals from 53 matches in all competitions that season.
3. Lionel Messi – 22 years, 5 months and 7 days
Nothing much needs to be said about the Argentine as we all know what Lionel Messi is truly capable of. When he made his debut for Barcelona as a teenager, many expected him to end up as an all time great.
He stamped his status as one of the best players in the world when he helped Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona to an unprecedented treble in 2009. He scored 38 goals in all competitions in that season and was awarded the Ballon d’Or for his brilliance – the first of the five Ballon d’Or trophies that he has now.
2. Michael Owen – 22 years and 4 days
Michael Owen was one of those players who failed to fulfil their potential but still managed to reach the pinnacle of the sport. While many might say Raul Gonzalez deserved to win the Ballon d’Or in 2001, it was Owen who won the award just four days after his 22nd birthday.
He won the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup with Liverpool and scored 24 goals from 46 matches in all competitions. He did enjoy a few more good seasons with the Reds before moving to Real Madrid, after which his career went downhill.
1. Ronaldo – 21 years, 3 months and 5 days
Jose Mourinho once said that Ronaldo Nazario was the greatest player that he had ever seen play with his own eyes. Who knows, he might as well have ended up being the greatest of all time had he not suffered so many major injuries.
The Brazilian wowed the world from the moment he came into the scene as his step-overs and slick touches were too hard to handle for the opponents. He moved to Barcelona in 1996 and played there for a single season.
He helped them win the Copa Del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup while scoring 47 goals from 49 matches. He was later bestowed with the Ballon d’Or award in 1997, becoming the youngest player to win it at the age of just 21.
The 5 youngest players to ever win the Ballon d'Or...