Remembering the four English players who have won the Ballon d’Or

With Lionel Messi odds-on to win France Football’s award for a seventh time, we look back to the five times the award has been claimed by an English player - the most recent of which was 20 years ago.

The Ballon d'Or shortlist is set to be announced on Friday and while there will be 30 names on it, there is only expected to be one winner.

On the back of leading Argentina to the Copa America, Lionel Messi is a heavy odds-on favourite to land the 2021 award - his seventh Ballon d'Or.

Robert Lewandowski is his nearest challenger at 5/1, with Jorginho at 6s.

Lionel Messi Barcelona Ballon d'Ors Jan13

Harry Kane leads the English challenge but at 16/1 his hopes of becoming the first England player since Michael Owen to win the trophy look slim.

Planet Sport looks back on the four previous English winners of the game's most prestigious individual trophy.

Sir Stanley Matthews (1956)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest English players of all time, the right-winger played for Stoke City and Blackpool and represented England on 54 occasions.

Matthews made his Stoke debut in 1932 and played nine seasons for his hometown club - eight before and one after World War II. Never a prolific goalscorer, he scored 51 goals in 259 league appearances for the Potters in his first spell at the club.

Stanley Matthews Blackpool Nov56

His strengths were speed and an ability to dribble past defenders with ease, providing chances for his team-mates with pinpoint crosses from wide on the right.

Legendary German player Franz Beckenbauer said his speed and skill meant that "almost no one in the game could stop him".

He moved to Blackpool after the war and stayed there for 15 years, making 379 league appearances.

Matthews was awarded the inaugural Ballon d'Or trophy in 1956 at the age of 41, beating Real Madrid superstar Alfredo Di Stefano by three votes.

Sir Stanley Matthews Stoke City 1963

Matthews returned to Stoke in 1961 and enjoyed another 59 league outings, scoring three goals, before he finally retired at the age of 50.

The 'Wizard of the Dribble' was the oldest player to feature in England's top division at 50 years and five days and is the oldest player to have represented England at 42 years and 104 days.

In addition to the Ballon d'Or, Matthews won the FA Cup with Blackpool in 1953, the Second Division with Stoke in 1932/33 and 1962/63 and was named Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year in 1948 and 1963.

Sir Bobby Charlton (1966)

Bobby Charlton England vs West Germany World Cup final 1966

The attacking midfielder enjoyed an excellent season at Old Trafford in 1965/66, scoring 16 league goals as his Manchester United side finished fourth in the First Division. He then joined up with the England side and, under the captaincy of Bobby Moore, claimed the World Cup in the summer of 1966.

It was enough to earn him the Ballon d'Or award, beating the great Portuguese striker Eusebio by a point in the voting.

A regular scorer for club and country, Charlton scored 29 goals in the 1958/59 season and 21 two years' later despite playing behind the main striker. He had a fearsome right-foot shot and scored many spectacular goals during his stellar career.

Bobby Charlton Manchester United Mar 1966

Charlton won three First Division titles and an FA Cup with Manchester United, while also lifting the European Cup in 1968.

He remained at the top of the game for many years and finished second in the Ballon d'Or voting in both 1967 and 1968, losing out to Hungarian Florian Albert and Northern Ireland's George Best, respectively.

Rarely injured, Charlton made 758 appearances for Man United in all competitions and scored 249 goals. He is second, behind Wayne Rooney, on England's all-time top scorers with 49 goals for his country.

Kevin Keegan (1978 and 1979)

Kevin Keegan Hamburger Jan79

Keegan is the only British player to have won the Ballon d'Or on two occasions. He began his career with Scunthorpe United but a move to Liverpool in 1971 propelled the then 20-year-old to another level.

He was part of a successful Liverpool side that won three league titles and the 1974 FA Cup.

They also claimed the 1977 European Cup, having won the UEFA Cup in 1973 and 1976.

Keegan scored 68 league goals for Liverpool and 100 in all competitions, while playing 63 times for England and scoring 21 goals.

He moved to Germany in 1977 to join Hamburger SV and went on to win his first Ballon d'Or in 1978, beating Barcelona's Austrian striker Hand Krankl by six points.

The 1978/79 season saw a Keegan-inspired Hamburger win the Bundesliga title, as he scored 17 goals in 34 games for the club.

Kevin Keegan vs Germany 1978

The 1979 Ballon d'Or voting was not even close, with the Englishman receiving 118 points and second-placed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge back on 52.

One more season in Germany followed before Keegan returned to England to play for Southampton and then Newcastle United.

After retiring, Keegan had a lengthy career in club management and a short stint as England boss.

Michael Owen (2001)

Michael Owen Steven Gerrard, England Sep01

Owen also made his name at Liverpool, making 297 appearances for the Anfield club in all competitions and scoring 158 goals.

The striker made his debut for the Reds as a teenager in May 1997 and was an instant hit. Unsurprisingly, he made his international debut in 1998, and was selected in England World Cup squad for that year's tournament in France.

Owen scored 40 England goals and is fifth on the list of all-time top scorers for his national side.

He enjoyed a superb 2000/2001 season with Liverpool, scoring 24 goals in all competitions and helping the Reds win both the League Cup and the FA Cup. The Reds also won the UEFA Cup that season and Owen was rewarded with the Ballon d'Or, ahead of Real Madrid's Raul.

Michael Owen Real Madrid Oct14

Liverpool sold Owen to Real Madrid in 2004 for £8million, but he played for just one season with Los Blancos. He struggled initially at the Bernabeu but ended the season with 16 goals from 45 appearances.

A move to Newcastle United followed but that began a sequence of injuries that hampered his progress as a player. He never recaptured the form that made him England's most deadly striker and, in four years at St James' Park, made only 79 appearances, scoring 30 times.

A surprise move to Manchester United followed but, by now, Owen was a squad player and rarely started games. He ended his Old Trafford career with 17 goals from 52 appearances before retiring in the summer of 2013 after playing nine matches for Stoke City.

READ MORE: Lionel Messi's iconic Argentina moments: Copa America, top-scorer, and Olympic gold

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