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In a nutshell: Europe's most prestigious award, created back in 1956 by France Football magazine.
Awarded to: Until 1995 it was only open to footballers of European nationality. However, since then it has been opened up to anyone playing for a European club.
Voted by: The award is voted for by a number of European football journalists.
When: Annually, in December.
Worth a mention: 1. France Football creates a list of candidates (at the moment 50), each voting journalist then picks 5 of these players and gives them 1,2,3,4 or 5 points.
2. 3 players have won the award 3 times - Cruyff, Platini and Marco van Basten.

Year Player Country Team
2009 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Manchester Utd
2007 Kaka Brazil AC Milan
2006 Fabio Cannavaro Italy Juventus/Real Madrid
2005 Ronaldinho Brazil FC Barcelona
2004 Andriy Shevchenko Ukraine A.C. Milan
2003 Pavel Nedved Czech Republic Juventus
2002 Ronaldo Brazil Real Madrid
2001 Michael Owen England Liverpool
2000 Luis Figo Portugal Real Madrid
1999 Rivaldo Brazil FC Barcelona
1998 Zinedine Zidane France Juventus
1997 Ronaldo Brazil Inter Milan
1996 Matthias Sammer Germany Borussia Dortmund
1995 George Weah Liberia A.C. Milan
1994 Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria FC Barcelona
1993 Roberto Baggio Italy Juventus
1992 Marco van Basten Holland A.C. Milan
1991 Jean-Pierre Papin France Olympique Marseille
1990 Lothar Matthaus West Germany Inter Milan
1989 Marco van Basten Holland A.C. Milan
1988 Marco van Basten Holland A.C. Milan
1987 Ruud Gullit Holland A.C. Milan
1986 Igor Belanov USSR Dynamo Kiev
1985 Michel Platini France Juventus
1984 Michel Platini France Juventus
1983 Michel Platini France Juventus
1982 Paolo Rossi Italy Juventus
1981 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany Bayern Munich
1980 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany Bayern Munich
1979 Kevin Keegan England Hamburger SV
1978 Kevin Keegan England Hamburger SV
1977 Allan Simonsen Denmark Borussia Moenchengladbach
1976 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany Bayern Munich
1975 Oleg Blokhin USSR Dynamo Kiev
1974 Johan Cruyff Holland Barcelona
1973 Johan Cruyff Holland Barcelona
1972 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany Bayern Munich
1971 Johan Cruyff Holland Ajax Amsterdam
1970 Gerd Muller West Germany Bayern Munich
1969 Gianni Rivera Italy A.C. Milan
1968 George Best N.Ireland Manchester United
1967 Florian Albert Hungary Ferencvarus
1966 Bobby Charlton England Manchester United
1965 Eusebio Portugal Benfica
1964 Denis Law Scotland Manchester United
1963 Lev Yashin USSR Dynamo Moscow
1962 Josef Masopust Czechoslovakia Dukla Prague
1961 Omar Sivori Argentina Juventus
1960 Luis Suarez Spain FC Barcelona
1959 Alfredo Di Stefano Argentina Real Madrid
1958 Raymond Kopa France Real Madrid
1957 Alfredo Di Stefano Argentina Real Madrid
1956 Stanley Matthews England Blackpool