Lothar Matthaus (Ballon d’Or 1990; FIFA World Player of the Year 1991)
The Germany legend was the first recipient of the FIFA World player of the Year award which came into existence in 1991. The defensive midfielder, who was singled out by Diego Maradona as the toughest player he ever faced, was plying his trade at the time for Inter Milan.
He captained the German national team to World Cup glory in 1990 after finishing as runner-up in the previous two editions. He also won eight league titles across Germany and Italy.
Marco van Basten (Ballon d’Or 1988, ‘89 and ’92; FIFA World Player of the Year 1992)
The legendary Dutch striker remains one of the greatest forwards to ever play the game. Known for his sublime skills and goalscoring ability, Van Basten scored a spectacular volley in the final of the 1988 European Championship against the Soviet Union to help the Netherlands win their first ever major trophy.
He won seven league titles with Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan as well as two European Cups with the latter, being part of the legendary Milan side of the early 1990s. Van Basten’s glorious career was cut short at only 28 due to knee injuries.
Roberto Baggio (Ballon d’Or 1993; FIFA World Player of the Year 1993)
The Divine Ponytail was one of the greatest strikers of his generation and it would be no exaggeration to say that Italian football has not found a forward of Roberto Baggio’s calibre since he retired from the game.
Baggio started his professional career with Vicenza and went on to play for all three giants of Italian football – Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, winning two league titles in the process. However, he could only muster a third and a second place finish at the FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo (Ballon d’Or 1997 and 2002; FIFA World Player of the Year 1996 and ‘97)
The Phenomenon, as Ronaldo was known, is one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the game. He burst on the scene as a youngster and elevated all his teams to a new level when in his pomp.
He was a star of the 1998 World Cup, but a mysterious illness kept him away from the final against France. His team, paralysed by the absence of their talisman, went on to lose the all-important game. However, Ronaldo went on to make amends four years later as Brazil won their fifth world title after defeating Germany in the final. Ronaldo was the topscorer with eight goals.
George Weah (Ballon d’Or 1995; FIFA World Player of the Year 1995)
The Liberian legend was the first recipient of the Ballon d’Or when the award was opened to players of all nationalities. Weah made a name for himself at Paris Saint-Germain during his three years at the club before moving to AC Milan.
In Italy, he lit up a stacked Serie A with his sublime skills and helped the Rossoneri add two league titles to their trophy cabinet.