KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: Spain and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has been voted the Best Player in Europe by UEFA. Iniesta narrowly beat Barca team-mate Leo Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo who finished joint second in the ballot.

Iniesta earned the prize with is outstandingt contributions to Barcelona’s continuing high profile in all the European and world club competitions and his key role in Spain’s victory at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

In a brief speech of acceptance Iniesta paid tribute to all his team-mates who helped “make my work easier.”

Messi had been  the winner in 2011,  the first year in which the European federation revived the old European Footballer of the Year prize which had been emasculated when FIFA’s World Player award swallowed up the original award created in the mid-1950s by Paris weeklyFrance Football.

Voting was organised by the European Sports Magazines group among a selection of sports journalists drawn on the basis of one from each member nation of UEFA. The qualification for a player was to be registered for a European club whatever his nationality.

The original European Footballer of the Year award was open only to players qualified to play for a European national team. This meant that naturalised Argentinians such as Alfredo Di Stefano (twice) and Omar Sivori were among the early winners. Later the award was expanded to feature  any European-based player before being swallowed up in world federation FIFA’s World Player of the Year.

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