KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO —- Cristiano Ronaldo laid hands on the latest of more than 150 personal accolades in his remarkable career when he was voted UEFA’s Player of the Season for the third time in four seasons.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and veteran Italy and Juventus captain Gigi Buffon were second and third in the annual rankings voted by last season’s UEFA club group stage coaches and a journalists’ jury organised by European Sports Media*. Dutch European champion Lieke Martens won the women’s player prize.
Ronaldo ended 2016-17 in triumph with Real Madrid having become the first club to win the modern-era Champions League two seasons in a row to add to their world and Spanish league prizes.
He scored 12 goals in Europe’s elite club competition including two in the 4-1 defeat of Juventus in the final in Cardiff. They took his total to a record 106, comprising 16 with Manchester United and 90 with Madrid.
The Portugal skipper then led his European national team champions to the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July.
Ronaldo also helped Madrid to victory over Messi’s Barcelona in the season’s curtain-raising Spanish Supercup despite being sent off.
The 32-year-old’s angry push of referee Ricardo de Burgos as he left the pitch landed Ronaldo with a five-game ban which meant he missed last weekend’s LaLiga kickoff.
Madrid coped. They defeated Deportivo 3-0 last Sunday in La Coruna without Ronaldo who then scored what proved the winning goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Italy’s Fiorentina in the annual Santiago Bernabeu trophy game.
Ronaldo, who also won the UEFA award in 2014 and 2016, was also voted the European governing body’s Forward of the Season. Two positional prizes went to team-mates in defender Sergio Ramos and midfielder Luka Modric.
The only exception to Real’s rule was Juventus’ Gigi Buffon, the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Season.
UEFA Player of the Season top 10:
1, Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Por)
2, Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Arg)
3, Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, Ita)
5, Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Ger)
6, Paulo Dybala (Juventus, Arg)
7, Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Sp)
8, Kylian Mbappe (Monaco, Fra)
9, Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Pol)
10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United, Swe)
Other UEFA awards:
Goalkeeper of the Season: Gianluigi Buffon (runners-up Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak). Defender of the Season: Sergio Ramos (runners-up Leonardo Bonucci, Marcelo). Midfielder of the Season: , Luka Modrić (runners-up Casemiro, Toni Kroos). Forward of the Season: Cristiano Ronaldo (runners-up Paulo Dybala, Lionel Messi)
President’s Award: Francesco Totti (Roma, It).
Women’s Player of the Year: 1, Lieke Martens (Hol); 2, Pernille Harder (Den); 3, Dzsenifer Marozsán (Ger).
** European Sports Media members comprise: A Bola (Portugal), ElfVoetbal (Netherlands), Fanatik (Turkey), Foot Magazine (Belgium), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy), GoalNews/Sentragoal (Greece), Guerin Sportivo (Italy), Kicker (Germany), Marca (Spain), Nemzeti Sport (Hungary), SoFoot (France), Sport Express (Russia), Telegraaf/Telesport (Netherlands), Tipsbladet (Denmark), World Soccer (England). Affiliated members: Kick Off (South Africa), Titan Sport (China), Netease (China), SportalKorea (South-Korea).