|The Ballon d'Or and often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award, was an annual association football award. It was presented to the player who had been voted to have performed the best over the previous year. The award was conceived by France Football's chief magazine writer Gabriel Hanot, who asked his colleagues to vote for the player of the year in Europe in 1956. The inaugural winner was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool. Originally, journalists could only vote for European players at European clubs, meaning that players like Diego Maradona and PelÃ© were ineligible for the award. A change in the rules in 1995 allowed non-European players to be eligible for the award if they played for a European club. The first non-European to win after the rule change was Milan's George Weah in the same year. In 2007, any player in the world became eligible, and the number of journalists allowed to vote also increased; 96 journalists from around the world chose their top five players, as opposed to the 52 Europe-based journalists in 2006.|
Check all the Awards, Winners and Nominations for the Ballon d'Or since 1956.