Ronaldo Uefa’s Best Player in Europe
Fourth time lucky as Portuguese star beats off Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben
Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) reacts after being voted Uefa’s Best Player in Europe for 2013-2014 award during the Uefa Champions League draw at the Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco yesterday. Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (left) and Bayern Munich’s Dutch forward Arjen Robben (right) were runners-up to the Real Madrid and Portugal winger. Photograph: Claude Paris/AP Photo
Cristiano Ronaldo was last night named as Uefa’s Best player in Europe, ahead of Bayern’s Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben in the final round of voting which took place after the draw for the Champions League in Monaco.
The Real Madrid and Portugal forward reacted with delight as the result was announced on stage.
It was fourth time lucky for the winger in terms of this award, formerly the original Ballon D’Or or European Player of the year. He lost out previously to Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Franck Ribery.
Despite dutifully paying tribute to the losing finalists and gratitude to team-mates, coaches and family, the 29-year-old gave every impression he felt entirely worthy now his time had finally come.
There was more than a hint of self-satisfaction about his acceptance and the press conference that followed, as he rattled off his various achievements, both last season and down the years, while saying more than once the trophy would be going in his “museum”.
Pulled outThe player failed to travel for the presentation of the award 12 months ago after being formally pulled out of the trip by his club but there was a feeling he didn’t want to be there after being overlooked again.
This time, he was clear favourite to win despite being below par at the World Cup due to injury, although Germany’s success in Brazil made Neuer, who had enjoyed another strong campaign with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, a very strong contender.
Neuer may have been handicapped by the fact he is a goalkeeper, with no net-minder having picked up the award since Lev Yashin back in 1963. But Ronaldo’s remarkable record at Real last season makes him a worthy winner.
He finished the club season with 31 league goals in 30 games as well as a record 17 goals in the Champions League, including the fourth in the final.
He had also already won Fifa’s Ballon D’Or for 2013.
“I’m really pleased to win this,” he said last night. “It’s a magnificent trophy, it’s looking beautiful. It’s going to look good in my museum. I have a place for it there. And I have to say I’m so proud.
“It’s a special moment but to be at the top is hard,” he continued. “It’s not easy; eight years always with trophies, the Ballon D’Or, now Uefa. It’s hard, you have to dedicate yourself 100 per cent all of the time. It’s not easy.
“It’s a big process during the year, many things happen, many games, lots of travel, training, injuries; it’s hard work, you understand?
“But when you do these things with passion then at the end of the day to win this sort of trophy makes you feel so proud because of the sacrifice; that’s what makes it feel good.
“This is why I do it, I love to play football, I love to be at the top all the time and I work for that.”
Asked about his, and the club’s success last year, he was emphatic: “It was perfect, the best scenario: to win La Decima (Real’s 10th European title), to play for Madrid, the final was in Portugal, I win, I was the first (top) scorer; fantastic. It was more than I could expect, there can never be a better one than this one.”
The feeling, Ronaldo suggested, surpassed even 2008 when he won the competition with United in Moscow.
“It was kind of the same,” he said. “I don’t see many differences. When I won the Champions League with Manchester in 2008, we won the league, I was the top scorer in Europe, the top scorer in the Champions League. This year was the same (Real didn’t win the league this time).
“But I think this time, don’t misunderstand me, I think it was more special because of the story of Real Madrid.
“That doesn’t mean that with Manchester it wasn’t special, winning the Champions League but in Madrid it was more special because there is a lot of pressure there, you know, because it’s Spanish.
At one point he asked the journalists present if they were the ones who had voted to decide the award and, when told they were, he broke into a broad, good-natured grin and said: “Okay. Thank you guys. You voted gooood.”