A new Frenchman on the list? The 66th Ballon d’Or ceremony, awarded by the magazine France Soccer, is to be held in Paris, at the Théâtre du Châtelet on Monday, October 17, and it could well crown Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. If he won, he would join the four Frenchmen who have already won the most prestigious football award: Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin and Zinedine Zidane.
► Raymond Kopa, forever the first
The first Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or was Raymond Kopa, two years after the trophy was created in 1958. Stuck in third place in 1956 and 1957, he benefited from France’s excellent performance at the World Cup 1958. Les Tricolores manage to reach the semi-finals before being eliminated by Brazil. Raymond Kopa finishes as the best player in the competition, ahead of King Pelé!
On the club side, Raymond Kopa occupies the right wing of the Real Madrid attack, alongside the legendary Alfredo Di Stéfano. At the time of his Ballon d’Or victory, he was coming off an exceptional season, having won the Spanish championship and the European Cup of Champions Clubs, the ancestor of the Champions League, for the third consecutive time. .
Since 2018, France Soccer awards, at the same time as the Golden Ball, the Kopa trophy, which rewards the best hope in world football under the age of 21.
► Michel Platini, crowned three times in a row
Michel Platini, the second Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or, remains the first player to have won it three times in a row, in 1983, 1984 and 1985. During this period, he played for Juventus in Turin. He won the Italian championship and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984 and the European Cup for champion clubs in 1985. Between 1983 and 1985, he also finished three times as top scorer in the Italian championship.
Called “King Michael” by supporters of “Juve”, he also marks the history of the France team, of which he is number 10 and the essential captain. In 1984, he notably won the European Nations Championship at home, scoring nine goals in just five games. This victory gives France its first major title in football. He remained the national team’s top scorer for a long time, before being overtaken by Thierry Henry in 2007.
After a successful reconversion as UEFA president, he was suspected in 2015 of having received a “unfair payment”which deprived him of any activity related to football for eight years.
► Jean-Pierre Papin, the Marseillais
Jean-Pierre Papin won the Ballon d’Or in 1991. OM’s flagship striker, he won the French championship with the Marseille club in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992. The year of his Ballon d However, he finished top scorer in the championship and reached the Champions League final, losing on penalties against Red Star Belgrade.
His transfer to AC Milan in 1992 was the most expensive of all time at the time. Jean-Pierre Papin also remains the only French player to have won the Ballon d’Or while playing in a tricolor club.
► Zinedine Zidane and the 1998 World Cup
Zinedine Zidane will remain as the player who offered his first World Cup to the France team with two headers, in 1998, in a final against Ronaldo’s Brazil. He logically won the Ballon d’Or in stride.
Like Michel Platini, he played for Juventus at the time of his coronation. With his club, he won the Italian championship in 1998 for the second time in a row. The Turin players, however, experienced a disappointment in the Champions League, losing the final 1-0 against Real Madrid. He joined the Spanish club in 2001, becoming in turn the most expensive footballer of all time. He will continue his career there by leading France to another world final, lost against Italy, in 2006.