Cristiano Ronaldo was named the Best Player in Europe by UEFA on Thursday in Monaco, beating out club teammate Gareth Bale and city rival Antoine Griezmann in the process. Griezmann had a career year, Bale was fantastic for club and country, but Ronaldo’s performances in Champions League and Euro 2016 meant he was always going to be the winner.
Ronaldo had a sensational year, scoring 51 goals in 48 matches for Madrid, and leading Portugal to its first-ever international trophy, scoring three goals on the way to winning the EURO 2016 Championship.
He was up against Gareth Bale, who didn’t have quite as sparkling a year as the man who occupies the opposite wing as him at Real Madrid. Bale managed 19 league goals, and bodily dragged Wales to their first-ever European Championship semi-final, but to be fair, he probably snuck into the top three on the strength of that European performance, especially considering how Luis Suarez played this year.
Antoine Griezmann had a legitimate shout for the trophy. He scored 39 goals for club and country, and he really and truly believed he deserved to win this year. Unfortunately he came up against one of world soccer’s biggest names, who just happened to come off a career year, pouring in goals and winning two of the most prestigious trophies there are. Sorry bud, it just wasn’t to be.
Ronaldo first won the UEFA Best Player Award in 2013, and in his acceptance speech for Thursday’s award, the 31-year-old Portuguese was effusive in his praise of the other two finalists: “Of course, I feel happy because it was an unbelievable season. But it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention these two amazing players. Griezmann, I am sorry for your loss to Portugal in the final, but you are an amazing player. It was an unbelievable season.”
When asked what his biggest dream as a kid was, Ronaldo replied: “It was to be a football player and have success in football. Dreams come true.”
Ronaldo earned this trophy. Luis Suarez perhaps deserved to be in the running, and Antoine Griezmann probably now has a Ronaldo-sized chip on his shoulder after losing the Champions League final, European Championship final, and now the Best Player award to Ronaldo, but he can’t really have any complaints about this one. Ronaldo stands supreme once more.