Monaco: Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player in Europe following the Champions League draw ceremony on Thursday.
European football’s governing body whittled a shortlist of 10 down to Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.
Ronaldo, who won after the 2013-14 season, joined Barcelona star Lionel Messi as the second player to win the award twice.
Ronaldo captained Portugal to glory at Euro 2016, when he was taken off injured during the final, and scored the winning shootout penalty for Real Madrid as they won the Champions League for an 11th time.
“Of course, I feel happy because it was an unbelievable season,” Ronaldo said. “But it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention these two amazing players [Bale and Griezmann]. Griezmann, I am sorry for your loss to Portugal in the final, but you are an amazing player. It was an unbelievable season.”
Ronaldo’s Bernabeu colleague Bale also shone in France, where his three goals helped unfancied Wales to reach the last four, and struck in the Champions League shootout.
France international Griezmann suffered at the hands of Bale and Ronaldo as his Atletico side were beaten in the Champions League final, missing a penalty in normal time, but was top scorer at Euro 2016 with six goals as hosts France reached the final.
Journalists from each of UEFA’s 55 member associations provided an initial list of their five best players, with the 10 gaining most points advancing to a second vote to determine the final three.
The award has previously gone to Lionel Messi (twice), Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery and Ronaldo.
Asked what his biggest dream as a kid was, Ronaldo said: “It was to be a football player and have success in football. Dreams come true.”