Cristiano Ronaldo crowned UEFA Best Player in Europe
Cristiano Ronaldo was on Thursday named the UEFA Best Player in Europe, defeating Bayern Munich duo Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben for the prestigious award.
Ronaldo earned 24 votes from a panel of European football journalists to claim the title in Monte Carlo just after the draw was made for the Champions League group stage.
Neuer was second on 19 votes, ahead of his Bayern teammate Robben who took nine.
Ronaldo, 29, scored a penalty in Real’s 4-1 extra-time win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final in May. But he been short of fitness, and had a disappointing World Cup in Brazil as Portugal were eliminated in the group stage.
It is the second time Ronaldo has picked up the award having also won in 2008 when playing for Manchester United in the Premier League. He is also currently the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year.
“It was a fantastic year, a dream year, so I’m so proud of my team, my coach and the fans,” Ronaldo said.
“I’m really, really happy. I have to say thank you to my teammates, because without the team individual awards are impossible.”
Robben praised Ronaldo’s performances from the last season, in which he scored a record 17 goals in Real’s successful Champions League campaign.
“He has put down an impressive season in the Champions League, that was really big,” the Netherlands international said. “You will never hear from me that someone hasn’t earned something and that I have to win this or that.”
There was also disappointment for Neuer, who was seeking to become just the second goalkeeper after Lev Yashin in 1963 to win the award.
After winning another double with Bayern Munich and being named as best goalkeeper during the World Cup in Brazil, where he helped Germany to a fourth title, he was considered a strong candidate.
But taking on the more glamorous outfield players, who score goals rather than prevent them, is a different prospect.
“I am very proud to stand here with the attacking players. That is not normal,” Neuer said before the award was announced. “It is not easy to win these titles, especially as a goalkeeper.”
The award for Best Women’s Player in Europe went to Wolfsburg’s Nadine Kessler ahead of her teammates Martina Mueller and Nilla Fischer.
Wolfsburg won the German title and women’s Champions League and the trio were recognized for their part in a dominant season.
“Words fail me a little, it is a wonderful feeling,” Kessler said. “I would like to thank my team — this is a prize that Nilla or Martina would have deserved too.”