Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player in Europe following the Champions League draw ceremony on Thursday.
Ronaldo, 31, claimed the prize ahead of his club team-mate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.
The forward, who first won the award in 2014, scored the winning spot-kick as Madrid beat Atletico in the Champions League final on penalties in May, having already scored 16 goals in the competition, in just 12 games.And Ronaldo then went on to help Portugal to their first international title with victory at the Euros, scoring three goals during the tournament.He scored a total of 54 goals in La Liga, the Champions League and the European Championship, far outstripping his rivals.
“It’s a great honour and thanks to the journalists for voting for me,” he said.
“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.”
“My team-mates are the key – they are the key every year. I work hard myself but without the help of my team-mates this would not be possible. Thanks to my team-mates from Real Madrid and Portugal.”
“I have to mention Portugal because it was the first in their history. It was different because I’ve won the Champions League three times. To win something with Portugal was the highlight of my career.”
Ronaldo, who won after the 2013-14 season, joined Barcelona star Lionel Messi as the second player to win the award twice.
Bale netted 19 league goals and also played a key role in guiding Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
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.”