Despite winning a record seventh Ballon d'Or this week, Lionel Messi is not the award's highest-ever points scorer. Curious, we know.
After pipping Robert Lewandowski to first place, the Argentine has likely put his Ballon d'Or tally beyond reach of eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five wins.
It's a competition Messi and Ronaldo have almost completely dominated over the past decade-and-a-half, but the history of the Ballon d'Or is far more than an immutable struggle between two men.
Some of football's greatest ever names have battled it out for the famous golden ball down the years, but which players have accumulated the most points?
Just 250 points were handed out during the inaugural Ballon d'Or in 1956, with the winner Stanley Matthews receiving a measly 47 of them.
Comparing that to this year's award where Messi alone received 613 points, you'll understand why plenty of high-profile Ballon d'Or winners don't make the list. Anyway, let's get started.
Kaka – 550 points
Kaka won the Ballon d'Or in 2007, becoming the award's final recipient before what would be 11 successive years of Messi-Ronaldo ownership.
After breaking through at AC Milan in 2003, the Brazilian quickly developed into one of Europe's finest midfielders, and was duly awarded with the football's top individual prize four years later after inspiring Milan to Champions League glory.
Strong finishes in the 2008 and 2009 awards bumped up Kaka's impressive points tally.
Did Lionel Messi deserve to win this year's Ballon d'Or? Let us know what you think in the comments section below…
Michel Platini – 551 points
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In a feat that to modern eyes might look rather ordinary, Michel Platini won three successive Ballon d'Ors in 1983, '84 and '85.
He became just the second player in history to win the award three times, and two 3rd-place finishes in 1977 and 1980 ensured the French midfielder of a place in the Ballon d'Or history books for decades to come.
Franz Beckenbauer – 576 points
Der Kaiser is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of all time.
History will attest to the fact that winning the Ballon d'Or as a defender is incredibly difficult, with Fabio Cannavaro the only man to do so since Beckenbauer's win in 1976.
The elegant German not only won the award twice, but also finished in the top five for seven successive years. Now that's consistency.
Ronaldo – 600 points
How many times would Ronaldo have won the Ballon d'Or if it weren't for his injury problems?
With a jaw-dropping blend of explosiveness, power and flair, the Brazilian singlehandedly redefined what being a centre forward meant, but a recurring knee injury robbed him – and the rest of us – of his peak years.
He still managed to bag two Ballon d'Or wins either side of a near two-year spell on the sidelines, firmly establishing himself as one of the greatest footballers who ever lived.
Robert Lewandowski – 672 points
Robert Lewandowski has rocketed up the league table after earning a whopping 580 points in this year's Ballon d'Or, narrowly missing out on top spot to Messi.
The Polish striker has bagged 128 goals in his last 107 matches for Bayern, he's been one of Europe's very best for most of the last decade, and few would argue that he deserved to win last year's award which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Virgil van Dijk – 679 points
The second non-winner on the list is Virgil van Dijk, whose impressive performance in the 2019 Ballon d'Or launched him into the all-time top five.
The Dutchman finished an agonising seven points behind Messi two after helping Liverpool win the Champions League, narrowly missing out on becoming just the second defender to win the award in over 40 years.
Zinedine Zidane – 715 points
The Frenchman may have only won the Ballon d'Or once, but he was in the running for the prize ever year for the best part of a decade – hence his healthy points total.
Zidane won the award in 1998 after playing a central role in France's World Cup victory, and likely would have won again in 2006 had he not headbutted his way into retirement.
Luke Modric – 837 points
Being the man to finally break Messi and Ronaldo's stranglehold on the Ballon d'Or is arguably worth as much as any trophy in Luka Modric's cabinet.
The midfielder won the award after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and reaching the final of the World Cup with Croatia.
Lionel Messi – 3,574 points
Lionel Messi's haul of seven Ballon d'Ors may never be caught, but he's still short of a certain somebody's all-time points total.
In actual fact though, Messi probably should be top of this list because between 2010 and 2015, the Ballon d'Or implemented a percentage system, rather than a points system.
As such, the Argentine's four victories in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 aren't included as part his overall points total.
I don't think he'll care much though, do you?
Cristiano Ronaldo – 3,781 points
At 36-years-old, Cristiano Ronaldo will probably never top Messi's seven Ballon d'Or wins.
But for a man seemingly obsessed with breaking records, he'll find some satisfaction in knowing that he has the highest accumulation of votes in the award's history … for now.
Ronaldo's insecurities may get the better of him when it comes to the Ballon d'Or, but no one can deny the part he's played in making the award arguably the most coveted individual prize in team sport.
The five-time winner might not top every list that he'd like to, but if the last 15 years has taught us anything, barely anyone in the history of the game can rival Ronaldo for quality and consistency.
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