Manchester United is one of the most successful football clubs in the world, with a rich history of producing world-class players.
Among the numerous accolades and awards won by the club and its players, the Ballon d’Or stands out as one of the most prestigious individual honours in football.
The award is presented annually to the best male footballer in the world, as voted on by a panel of international journalists.
Over the years, Manchester United has produced a number of players who have won this coveted award, cementing their status as some of the greatest players of all time.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Manchester United players who have won the Ballon d’Or, and their incredible achievements both on and off the pitch.
Manchester United Ballon d’Or Winners
1. Denis Law (1964)
Manchester United striker Denis Law scored 28 goals in the 1964 season as he fired Manchester United to the First Division title.
Under Sir Matt Busby, the Scot became the best striker in Europe and legend at Manchester United, even to this day.
He was honoured by Man United by a statue depicting The Holy Trinity, United’s three British Ballon d’Or winners, outside of Old Trafford.
The statue shows Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best celebrating together, commemorating their 1968 European Cup Final victory over Benfica.
His performances in the Football League helped Untied finish second in Division 1,just four points behind winners Liverpool.
He netted 30 times in as many league games, as well as 10 times in 6 FA Cup matches.
They didn’t win any trophies that year, but Manchester United finished second in the league, made it to the FA Cup Semi-finals and the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Denis Law is the first and only Scotsman to hold the Ballon d’Or award, being voted in by France Football magazine ahead of big stars like Luis Suarez, Jimmy Greaves and Eusébio.
2. Bobby Charlton (1966)
1966 is a famous one for England, and none more so than former Manchester United star Bobby Charlton.
The legendary goalscorer helped fire Manchester United to fourth in the First Division in 1966, scoring 15 times in 36 league matches. He also netted twice in United’s run to the European Cup semi-finals, where they fell to Partizan Belgrade over two legs.
Sadly, he couldn’t help the Red Devil’s secure any silverware that season, but his performances drew huge praise from all over the world.
However, his crowning glory had to be during the World Cup. The 1966 World Cup finals were help in England, with stars like Charlton, Moore and Banks leading a hopeful Three Lions side.
As you may well know, England triumphed in the home tournament, beating Germany 4-2 after extra time in an exciting final.
Charlton was one of the best players in the tournament, scoring three goals (1 against Mexico and 2 against Portugal) to help England win their first and only World Cup trophy.
Bobby Charlton was included in the team of the tournament for that World Cup. The Manchester United midfielder Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, George Cohen and Geoff Hurst in a squad joined by legends like Franz Beckenbauer and Eusebio.
Due to his performances for Manchester United and England, Bobby Charlton was awarded the Ballon d’Or award by France Football, becoming only the second Englishman to win it.
He also finished runner-up in the next two years, with the 1968 edition going to his Man United teammate George Best.
3. George Best (1968)
Manchester United’s European Cup triumph in 1968 was one of the biggest accomplishment’s in football history.
Just a decade after the club was decimated by the Munich Air Disaster, Sir Matt Busby rebuilt the club into an English powerhouse and led them to domestic and European glory.
The star-studded Manchester United side featured the 1966 Ballon d’Or winner, Bobby Charlton, in its’ midfield, but it was tricky winger George Best who would gain the plaudits for their international exploits.
The Northern Irish winger is regarded as one of the greatest wingers in history. He played nearly 500 times for the Red Devils and scoring 170 times in a trophy-laden career.
He was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1968, in recognition for his performances in the run to become the European Cup champion.
He remains the only Northern Irishman to win the trophy to this day, and just the fourth British football player to achieve this award.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo (2008)
Despite other players coming close over the years (David Beckham finished runner-up in 1999), Cristiano Ronaldo broke a 40-year dry spell in 2008.
Joining the club as a baby-faced 18-year-old in 2003, Ronaldo soon showed his talent in an incredible debut for Manchester United.
He quickly formed a fantastic partnership with Wayne Rooney, and despite their falling out at the 2006 World Cup, combined beautifully as United won the Premier League in 2007.
Ronaldo would just miss out on the Golden Boot to Didier Drogba that year, but it would be the following season where he would lift the Ballon d’Or for the first time.
In the 2007/2008 season, Cristiano Ronaldo starred as Manchester United won the Premier League and Champions League double.
The Portuguese star netted 42 times – including in the Champions League final – as he overtook Brazilian Kaka as the best player in world football.
Scoring 30 times in the Premier League, Cristiano Ronaldo showed his incredible skill, which was matched by a newfound maturity and bags of hard work, as he led one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest side.
As of the time of writing, no more Manchester United players have won the Ballon d’Or.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the last United star to win the coveted award, and it looks like it will be a long time until we see another Red Devil lift the coveted trophy.
While only these four players have won the Ballon d’Or while playing for Manchester United, one player won the trophy before joining the club. Michael Owen picked up the honour in 2001, after starring for Liverpool during a season that saw them pick up three trophies – the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.
This came nearly a decade before Owen became a Manchester United player, following stints with Real Madrid and Newcastle United. He remains the last English player to win the Ballon d’Or, joining Bobby Charlton in earning that honour.