As the 2016 European Best Player Award heats up the media, it’d be right to grant a brief assessment on what the accolade stands for. Cristiano Ronaldo wants the trophy, Antoine Griezmann needs it, and Gareth Bale dreams it could be his. Their fate has been left in the hands of journalists to decide, using the same format as is applicable to the old Ballon d’Or.
Image shows contenders for 2016 European Best Player Award–Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale.
The UEFA Best Player in Europe Award is an association football award given to players who ply their trades in Europe. The winner is chosen with considerations to performances and achievements recorded the previous season.
Established by UEFA in 2011, the award aims at reviving the European Footballer of the Year Award (Ballon d’Or) which was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 2010 to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or. It also replaced the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.
Since its inception, the award has been won by Lionel Messi a record two times (2011, 2015), Andrés Iniesta (2012), Franck Ribéry (2013) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2014).
Female players are also awarded the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award, after its introduction in 2013.
Ronaldo hasn’t been able to avoid talking about the prestigious 2016 European Best Player Award after winning it in 2014, and finishing among the top three which include Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann.
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portugal captain spoke with World Soccer magazine about his expectations. In his words:
“I see it as a privilege. Since the prize has been around I’ve almost always been in the mix. I think there have been four editions of the prize and I’ve been nominated for three, if I remember correctly, so it’s an honor,” he said.
“It’s a sign of a great season on an individual level and on a collective level too, with Real Madrid having won the Champions League, and obviously it’s a beautiful moment in my career and I’m happy.
“It would be something very important for me. It’s obviously an individual trophy. The most important thing was that we won trophies as a team.”
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann.
Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann thinks he deserves the award, after offering his best for France at the 2016 European Championships though they lost the finals to an inspired Portugal.
There’s no doubt that Griezmann was pivotal to Atletico Madrid’s campaign for last season’s La Liga and UEFA Champions League.
The 25-year-old Frenchman may have had “bad luck” on one too many occasions but he hopes this highly anticipated award will bring “a change of destiny” despite Ronaldo posing a threat after netting 35 times and leading Portugal to glory.
He said: “I am proud to be a finalist, that means I am on the right track and have to continue that way.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I deserve this award because I’ve had a great season with both club and the national team.
“It has been [an] unforgettable season, first in the Champions League with Atleti, then [the] Euros with France. Unfortunately, we didn’t win a trophy and it was a blow for us, as well for our fans.”
In another interview, Ronaldo brought an extra to the three-man list, saying that Pepe [his countryman and teammate] was central to Portugal and Real Madrid achieving glories last season.
Though the 33-year-old defender was included in this year’s European Team of the Tournament, CR7 says Pepe deserves the award more than him.
He told UEFA.com in an interview: “In my book, Pepe was extraordinary this year.”