Cristiano Ronaldo.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MIGUEL A. LOPES

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA best player in Europe for 2015-16 on Thursday, ahead of Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid and Real team-mate Gareth Bale.

Ronaldo took the votes of 40 journalists while Griezmann got eight and Bale seven.

"I am very happy to get this award," the Portuguese veteran said.

"It has been a very special year for me, with both Real and Portugal. Every season has its different challenges ... On a collective level, this was undoubtedly the best year of my career."

Meanwhile, Madrid-based Radio Marca commented: "It would have been an absolute travesty had this award not gone to Ronaldo, given everything that he did last season for Real and Portugal.

"He might not be as fast as he used to be, but his winning spirit and character seem to be even stronger than ever."

Ronaldo, 31, guided Real to their record-breaking 11th Champions triumph, and was top scorer in the competition with 16 goals.

He single-handedly destroyed hapless Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals, and then slotted home the winning penalty in the dramatic shootout in the final against neighbours Atletico.

Ronaldo then captained Portugal to unexpected glory at Euro 2016. Although he was injured early on in the final against hosts France, his team surprisingly won 1-0.

Florentino Perez, Real Madrid's president, reacted to Ronaldo's latest award by saying: "We are really happy because two Real Madrid players were among the best three in Europe.

"I think the prize going to Ronaldo is recognition for one of his best seasons. He's won everything. I'd also like to say something about Bale, who arrived three years ago and already has won two Champions Leagues."

Perez is keen to extend Ronaldo's contract to 2021, when he will be 36 years old. Ronaldo himself has said he hopes to continue at Real until he is 41.

Ronaldo has already won two FIFA Ballon d'Or awards for the world's best player, and is favourite to win it a third time for his achievements in 2016.

The voting for the 2016 FIFA award will take finish in November and the winner will be announced in January.

He is Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and second top scorer in Spanish league history, behind Lionel Messi of Barcelona. However, Ronaldo is now ahead of Messi in the all-time Champions scorers list.

Also Thursday in Monaco, Ada Hegerberg of Norway and Lyon was named UEFA best women's player in Europe, after finishing ahead of  Amandine Henry and Dzsenifer Marozsan.

Hegerberg, aged just 21, guided Lyon to an impressive triple of the UEFA Women's Champions League, the French League, and the French Cup.

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