The inaugural award came about in a partnership between UEFA and its member associations of the European Sports Media (ESM). The award is based on all appearances in the past year for a UEFA club team, in both domestic league and matches. A panel of 53 journalists from ESM voted for their top three choices, with first choices receiving 5 points, second receiving 3 points and third with 1 point. A month ago, the long list was revealed, withholding the order of the top 3: Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 4 through 10 finished as follows:
4. Andrés Iniesta (ESP) – FC Barcelona (33 points)
5. Falcao (COL) – FC Porto (17)
6. Wayne Rooney (ENG) – Manchester United FC (15)
7. Nemanja Vidić (SRB) – Manchester United FC (5)
8. Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE) – AC Milan (4)
9. Gerard Piqué (ESP) – FC Barcelona (4)
10. Manuel Neuer (GER) – FC Schalke 04 (3)
Shortly before the winner was announced, the three finalists were invited onto the stage to answer questions about their upcoming season, the level of competition and their personal accomplishments. Following that,the audience was shown highlight reels of each players performance from the prior season while the final votes were cast and tallied.
In the question and answer interview period before announcing the winners, Ronaldo said though he is happy with his personal accomplishments, the important achievements would be counted only when Real Madrid is crowned La Liga & Champions League champions. Xavi Hernandez, who had six goals and ten assists in 55 appearances last season, expressed his sincere gratitude in being a Barcelona teammate and good friend of Messi, who claimed is the best player in the world.
While Cristiano Ronaldo boasted one of the highest scoring seasons in Real Madrid history, Leo Messi scored 53 goals in 55 appearances, with a record-tying 12 goals en route to winning the Champions League final against Manchester United, leading one to believe heavier weight was given to Messi’s impact on his team’s big victories. “We’re very happy to lift another trophy. It was a difficult season, but we showed who we are. To be the man of the match is the least important thing because it was incredible how we played. We were very good in all areas,” said Messi following the victory.
Adding this new award to his long list of accomplishments, Messi maintained a high level of humility that only adds to his following. Surely, the controversy of this award only adds to the growing anticipation of the Champions League in the wake of the group stage drawing.