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Matthews wins first Golden Ball
Stanley Matthews won the first Ballon D'Or

The first player to be named European Footballer of the Year was the great Stanley Matthews, in 1956.

Journalists were allowed to vote only for European players at European clubs, meaning the likes of Brazilian legends Pele and Garrincha were never eligible for the prize.

Matthews, then 41 and still going strong for Blackpool and England, saw off the challenge of Real Madrid striker Alfredo di Stefano and Stade Reims frontman Raymond Kopa to secure the first award.

Neither were to be denied for long, however, with Di Stefano triumphing in 1957 and 1959 and Kopa lifting the trophy in 1958.

see also
England trio on Euro award list
19 Oct 08 |  Europe

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