Lionel Messi capped off a banner individual year in 2019 by winning a record sixth Ballon d’Or, but it’s not the only award he won this year. In addition to France Football’s prize, the Barcelona ace also won the European Golden Shoe, FIFA’s The Best award, and IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker award.
No player had previously won all four in a single year. That’s even accounting for the fact that the Ballon d’Or and The Best used to be a combined prize. No one had won the combined FIFA Ballon d’Or in addition to the Golden Shoe and Best Playmaker awards.
Luka Modrić came close last season, winning the Best Playmaker award in addition to The Best and the Ballon d’Or. However, he only scored three league goals last season, very far away from the Golden Shoe award. Incidentally, the winner was Messi, with 34 goals.
In 2007, Kaká, then playing for AC Milan, came close to achieving it. He won the second-ever edition of the Best Playmaker award, plus the Ballon d’Or, and the FIFA World Player of the Year award (a precursor to The Best.) However he fell well short of the Golden Shoe, scoring 8 goals to Francesco Totti’s 26 for AS Roma.
Cristiano Ronaldo has come close as well. In 2008, he came closest. He won the Ballon d’Or, the Golden Shoe, and the FIFA World Player of the Year award. However, he did not win the Best Playmaker award, finishing second to Barcelona’s Xavi.
Ronaldo would have another near miss in 2014. He was a joint winner with Luis Suárez for the Golden Shoe and won the combined Ballon d’Or. However he did not make the podium for the Best Playmaker award, which his teammate Toni Kroos won.
Messi himself has been close. In 2010, he won the Golden Shoe and the combined Ballon d’Or, but Xavi won the Best Playmaker award with Messi not at the podium. In 2012, he again won the Golden Shoe and combined Ballon d’Or, but was third in the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker award behind Andrés Iniesta and Xavi.
In 2015, Messi won the combined Ballon d’Or and for the first time the Best Playmaker award. but fell five goals short of Ronaldo for the Golden Shoe.
Messi has since won three of the last four Best Playmaker awards and three of the last four Golden Shoes, but it is only now that he has won both while winning The Best and the Ballon d’Or in the same year.