Manchester United, along with Liverpool, are often seen as the most successful team in England. Despite their recent slump, they continue to be right at the top when it comes to revenue and number of fans. The reason for United’s presence across continents is because of their rich history of world-class players and managers. Though the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated the prestigious Ballon d’Or ceremony, Manchester United have their fair share of winners too. Here we look at the players who have won the Ballon d’Or while playing for the Red Devils,
4. Denis Law, 1964
To this day, Law remains the only Scottish player to get his hands on the Ballon d’Or and he did so after a terrific season in which he scored 46 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils. Sadly, United failed to win any major trophy in the 1963-64 campaign but gave a tough fight to Liverpool for the first division title. He scored thirty goals in the first division in the 1963-64 campaign despite serving a one month suspension and he was the league’s top scorer next season when United won the league title. After all these years, no United player is yet to break his tally of 46 goals in a season.
3. Bobby Charlton, 1966
Sir Bobby is an iconic figure not only at Manchester but throughout England due to his achievement of lifting the World Cup as Captain in 1966. A versatile attacker who played a variety of roles throughout his Manchester United career, Charlton had a forgettable season in 1965-66 as defending champions United finished fourth despite his heroics. However, United fought back in the 1966-67 campaign and won the league title again. Charlton’s goal tally declined after this period as he chose to play a second string role to star forwards George Best and Dennis Law.
2. George Best, 1968
The man who defined flamboyance in English football, Best was the youngest Ballon d’Or winner when he lifted the coveted prize in 1968. 1967-68 season was the absolute peak of Best’s career as he scored 28 league goals and his insane dribbles made him a worldwide sensation. United did not win the league in that season but reached the final of the European Cup, becoming the first English side to do so. In the final, United defeated Benfica side to lift the trophy, thanks to another one of Best’s unstoppable runs which gave United the lead in extra-time.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, 2008
40 years after Best’s achievement, Ronaldo became the first player in the Premier League era to bring the Ballon d’Or back to England and also probably the youngest manchester united ballon d’or winners. Ronaldo’s extraordinary skillset had been the talk of the town ever since his debut in 2003 but he became a true phenomenon in 2007-08 season due to his record goal-scoring tally. His evolution into a striker from a silky winger came after the 2006 World Cup as the departure of Ruud Van Nistelrooy paved way for Ronaldo to be the central cog of the attack. He scored 66 goals in his last three seasons at United and won the best player award in consecutive seasons. He broke the Premier League record for most goals in a single season and was the top scorer in the Champions League as United won the continental double. He would go on to win four more Ballon d’Or awards at Real Madrid and still has a chance to equal Messi’s record of six wins.