Messi, Ronaldo, Cruyff: Who are the youngest Ballon d'Or winners? – GIVEMESPORT

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Lionel Messi picked up a record seventh Ballon d’Or crown just over two weeks ago in Paris – pipping Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prestigious award. 
The Barcelona legend, 34, now has two more than Ronaldo, having also won it back in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.
Some will argue this only strengthens his case for being recognised as football‘s greatest player of all time which is a debate that has raged for what feels like an eternity.
They do, however, share one thing in common; they were both recognised as the best players in the world when they were in their early twenties, and they received this recognition at a considerably quicker rate than some of the all-time greats.
Ronaldo, for example, was 23 when he won the first of his five Ballon d’Or awards in 2008.
ENTER GIVEAWAY
Messi, meanwhile, was a year younger than Ronaldo when he followed suit a year later in 2009, at the age of 22.
But who is the youngest player to ever win the Ballon d’Or?
Here, GIVEMESPORT counts down the ten youngest Ballon d’Or winners in history – starting with a man who should be familiar to those who consider themselves a fan of Manchester United
So without further ado, here goes nothing…
10. Denis Law (24 years, 9 months and 28 days)
Known as ‘Denis the Menace’ by opposition fans, Law spent 11 years at Old Trafford, where he scored 237 goals in 404 appearances.   
9. Johan Cruyff (24 years, 8 months and 3 days)
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff scored a staggering 190 goals in 240 Ajax games during his nine year stay between 1964 and 1973. 
8. Marco van Basten (24 years, 1 month and 27 days)
Like Cruyff, Basten was one of the best players of his generation, winning the Ballon d’Or three times between 1988 and 1992. 
7. Eusebio (23 years, 11 months and 3 days)
Famous for his speed, athleticism and his ferocious right-footed shot to boot, Eusebio would probably be considered the greatest Portuguese player of all time if it weren’t for the next name on the list.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo (23 years, 9 months and 27 days)
With FIVE Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest male footballers to ever grace the beautiful game. 
5. Oleg Blokhin (23 years, 1 month and 25 days)
Up next on the list is a name which may not be familiar to everyone unless you just so happen to be a history buff who loves reading books about football. 
4. George Best (22 years, 7 months and 2 days)
Best is the only Northern Irish player to have won the Ballon d’Or award, doing so in 1968.
3. Lionel Messi (22 years, 5 months and 7 days)
What else is there to say about Messi? The man can seemingly do no wrong, whether that be 
2. Michael Owen (22 years and 4 days)
Owen burst on to the football scene in 2001 when he, like Best and Messi, was named the best player in the world at the age of 22. 
1. Ronaldo Nazario (21 years, 3 months and 5 days)
Not to be confused with the Portuguese who shares the same name, the Brazilian is the youngest man in history to win the Ballon d’Or, finishing ahead of Predrag Mijatović and Zinedine Zidane. He was just 21 years old when he won the first of his two awards in 1997 – a record which still stands to this day. 
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Tom is a Senior Writer for GIVEMESPORT, covering boxing, football and mixed martial arts. 
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