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22nd Dec 2022

France Football claim Pele has same number of Ballon d’Ors as Lionel Messi

Callum Boyle

The decision was made following an ‘international re-evaluation’

Lionel Messi may officially lead the way with the most Ballon d’Or’s (seven) but according to France Football, Pele is level with the Argentine.

During Pele’s playing days he could never be officially nominated for football’s biggest individual accolade. The award, invented journalists Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Ferran, only allowed players from Europe to be nominated until 1995.

Sir Stanley Matthews was the inaugural winner in 1965 however after the rule change, any player from a European club could go on to win the award. George Weah of AC Milan and Liberia became the first to claim the award.

Pele is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time having won three World Cups with Brazil but he never actually played in Europe, instead featuring for Santos, before joining New York Cosmos in the United States.

However in 2016, France Football went back and conducted an “international re-evaluation” in which they calculated that Pele would’ve won the Ballon d’Or in seven of the 12 years it awarded before the rules were changed.

He would’ve been awarded the prize in: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1970 respectively.

The likes of Garrincha, Mario Kempes, Diego Maradona (twice) and Romario would’ve also won awards according to France Football had anyone in the world been eligible to win the Ballon d’Or.

Despite never officially winning one, Pele was awarded an honorary Ballon d’Or in 2014 for his incredible achievements to football.

Maradona, meanwhile, received a ‘Golden Ballon d’Or’ back in 1995 for what he was able to accomplish in the game.

Alfredo di Stefano is the only player to have ever been awarded a Super Ballon d’Or however reports claim that Messi could be about to become the second-ever recipient of the trophy.

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