Bayern Munich's French winger Franck Ribery on Thursday won the award for European player of the 2012/13 season. He beat Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
In recognition of his amazing contribution to Bayern's historic treble in the 2012/13 season, Franck Ribery on Thursday won UEFA's "Best Player in Europe"award.
The 30-year-old Ribery earned 36 votes in the poll of journalists from across Europe, and received the award in a ceremony in Monaco that took place after this season's Champions League draw. That was 23 more than four-time reigning world player of the year Lionel Messi.
The other shortlisted player, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo (who missed the event to take part in a charity match) won three votes.
Ribery was an essential part of Bayern's charge to last season's historic treble of the Champions League crown, the Bundesliga title and the German Cup. His darting runs provided a constant threat in Bayern's attack, though he only scored 11 goals all season - compared the 60 each that Messi and Ronaldo notched up.
"It's a very special moment to be standing here this evening," Ribery said after receiving the award.
The Frenchman is the first Bundesliga player to get the European award since Borussia Dortmund's Matthias Sammer in 1996. The last time a Bayern player won the award was even longer ago - 1980 and 1981, when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, now the club's chairman, took the prize.
"He played a fantastic season and deserves it," Rummenigge told Sky TV.
First major award
The first international award for Ribery is a huge milestone for the player, whose career has not always been easy. Apart from his involvement in the disastrous French showing at the 2010 World Cup, there was also an unpleasant affair involving an under-age prostitute.
"It's always nice to win this trophy; it's a special moment for me to be here," he said after being given the trophy by compatriot Michel Platini. The UEFA president who won the same award as a player three straight years between 1983 and 1985.
"This distinction rewards Franck for the magnificent season he had with his club and above all underlines his magnificent talent which allows him to be considered among the best players in the world," French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet said. "Everyone in French football is very proud, and are with me in congratulating him."
UEFA created this version of the award after France Football magazine combined its traditional European accolade with FIFA's world player prize. The two previous winners of the new award were Barcelona duo Lionel Messi (2011) and Andres Iniesta (2012).
The three-man shortlist was selected by a panel of 53 journalists drawn from each of UEFA's member nations. The same journalists then voted for the winner.