Franck Ribery named Europe’s best by Uefa

Frenchman honoured for his role in Bayern Munich’s Champions League win last season

Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich has bee named Uefa’s Best Player in Europe. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich has bee named Uefa’s Best Player in Europe. Photograph: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

 

Having starred in a team that proved itself to be comfortably the continent’s most impressive last season, Franck Ribery was named the Best Player in Europe in Monaco, where he easily beat off competition from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.  

Barcelona star Messi, who has tended to clean up on these sorts of occasions in recent years, took the loss – by 36 votes to 14 with Ronaldo getting the remaining three – with typical good grace but Ronaldo did not attend.

Ribery said he was “deeply honoured” to win the title.

“It’s always been a dream for me, since I was a kid,” revealed the 30-year-old who had  acknowledged last week that if he did not come out on top this time then he could not realistically hope to receive the accolade at all.

Very proud
“Then I became a professional and I worked very hard to improve but sometimes I still dreamt about it. Now, it’s a really immense pleasure to be awarded the title . . . I’m very proud.”

The Frenchman played a major role in Bayern’s tremendous success in all competitions but readily agreed that League, Cup and Champions League victories had been the result of a collective effort.

“It was an exceptional year,” he said, “but then we had been unlucky the year before. After that we started again and worked very hard together. The result we achieved, the fact that we won everything, was down to our solidarity.”

The fact that Ribery eclipsed Messi who had such an impressive campaign himself until he was hit by a couple of injuries late on, was no great surprise really given his side’s clean sweep of silverware.

There had been a split amongst the voting journalists in earlier rounds over which Bayern player deserved most credit, however, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben all featuring highly.

 Ronaldo, meanwhile, always looked a long shot and his non-appearance represents something of a blow to Uefa president Michel Platini’s hopes of building up the prestige of an award he has personally championed over the last couple of years in the hope that it can rival the Ballon D’Or, something that started out as the preserve of the Europeans only to be, some in these parts feel, hijacked a few years back by Fifa.

A plethora of stars turned out in Zurich last January for the world body’s bash at which Messi won the main prize for the fourth straight year.

Ronaldo, who was there too, had to content himself with a place in the Team of the Year, something that is voted on by more than 50,000 players worldwide.

Being snubbed
The prospect of being snubbed once again by the 53 journalists who decide things here in Monaco may have proven too much, though, for the Portuguese who really didn’t look like he’d be coming back after last year when Andres Iniesta won.

On that occasion he greeted Barcelona’s Iniesta’s narrow victory with ill-concealed displeasure while a few feet away Messi looked as happy as if he had won again himself.

Spanish newspaper Marca, was saying yesterday that the player had been willing to travel but had been told by his club that he was required for a friendly game last night against Deportivo La Coruna although it seems at least as likely that Carlo Ancelotti was giving his star an out. Either way, the stage looked big without him and Messi, who is regularly acclaimed as the better player, looked a better loser too.