Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first player to win the UEFA Best Player in Europe award three times as he was handed the coveted prize for the 2016-17 campaign on Thursday.
The Portuguese beat Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to the award after inspiring Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double.
In a poll of 80 Champions League and Europa League coaches, together with 55 journalists, representing each of UEFA’s member associations, Ronaldo received 482 points, with Messi (141) and Buffon (109) finishing second and third respectively.
‘I’m so glad to be here, and honoured to win this trophy again,’ Ronaldo said. ‘Thank you to my team-mates and congratulations to them too. I’m so blessed – thanks also to the supporters of Real Madrid, and everyone who helped me to achieve this.’
Ronaldo finished the campaign with 42 goals in 46 appearances, which remarkably represented his worst return since moving to the Bernabeu from Manchester United in 2009.
However, 12 goals — including two in the final — and four assists in just 13 Champions League appearances made sure Zinedine Zidane’s men made history by becoming the first side to retain the trophy in its current format.
Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo also claimed the UEFA Forward of the Year despite the fact that Messi, with 54 goals in 52 appearances, outscored his great rival and claimed the European Golden Shoe.
His Real Madrid team-mates Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric soon joined him on stage as they took home the Defender of the Year and Midfielder of the Year respectively.
Buffon claimed Goalkeeper of the Year while Holland and Barcelona midfielder Lieke Martens took home the UEFA Women’s Player of the Season following her recent success at Euro 2017.
Martens inspired host Holland to triumph at the tournament and beat Denmark striker Pernille Harder and Germany playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan to claim the trophy.