UEFA Player of the Year Award Winners: History, List of Past Winners (Men and Women)

UEFA Player of the Year Award Winners: The UEFA Player of the Year is an award given to the best football player in Europe. It’s been given out by UEFA in partnership with European Sports Media since 2011. In 2013, they started giving a similar award for the best women’s football player.

They announce the winners during a ceremony at the end of August. They consider how well the players performed in the lead-up to the awards in all the competitions they played in, both in their own countries and across Europe.

Usually, the players who have done exceptionally well in UEFA competitions in the past tend to win these awards. For men, almost every winner in the last 13 years was part of a team that won the Champions League or European Championship. For women, it’s the same story, with 9 out of 11 winners previously being Champions League or European champions.

Criteria

The UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award is presented to the finest male football player who has played for a European club and is regarded as the best in the previous season, taking into account both club and national team performances. To determine the winner, they assess how well the player performed in all competitions, including those within their country and those on the international stage.

Origin

The idea for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award came from Michel Platini, who was the President of UEFA. He wanted to bring back the tradition of selecting Europe’s top football player, a tradition that had been going on since 1956 with the Ballon d’Or award given by the French magazine France Football.

Before this award, players from clubs outside of Europe were allowed to compete for the Ballon d’Or starting in 2007. Then in 2010, the FIFA Ballon d’Or was introduced, merging with the FIFA World Player of the Year award. This meant there was no longer a dedicated award for footballers playing in Europe.

What’s interesting is that a player’s nationality doesn’t matter when it comes to this award. It’s all about their performance in European competitions. The first UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award was presented on August 25, 2011, during the group draw for the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.

This award replaced the previous UEFA Club Football Awards, which not only recognized the best player but also the best goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, strikers, and coaches (until 2006) of the previous Champions League season. And since 2013, they’ve also been honoring the best female player alongside the men’s award.

How Winner is Chosen?

The winner is decided by a group of sports journalists, one from each of the UEFA member countries (53 until 2013, 54 until 2015, and 55 since 2016). These journalists first submit a list of their top five players. The player they place first gets five points, the second gets four points, and so on. The ten players with the most points make it to the shortlist.

In the next round of voting, these journalists pick their three favorites from the shortlist of ten nominees. On the day of the award ceremony, they select the winner from the three players with the most points by pressing a button.

For the women’s award, the coaches of the quarter-finalists from the previous year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League chose their favorites. If there was a World Cup or European Championship in the same year as the award, all the coaches of the European teams in those tournaments can also vote. Each coach creates a list of their top five players, with points assigned from five to one in descending order. This creates a shortlist of the top ten players. The process then follows a similar pattern to the men’s award, with international journalists picking their top three from the shortlist, and the winner is chosen from these three players in the final vote.

UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award Winner List

YearWinnerTeamSecondThird
2011Lionel MessiFC BarcelonaXavi Cristiano Ronaldo
2012Andres IniestaFC Barcelona (2)Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo
2013Franck RiberyFC Bayern MunichLionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
2014Cristiano RonaldoReal MadridManuel Neuer Arjen Robben
2015Lionel Messi (2)FC Barcelona (3)Luis Suarez Cristiano Ronaldo
2016Cristiano Ronaldo (2)Real Madrid (2)Antoine Griezmann Gareth Bale
2017Cristiano Ronaldo (3)Real Madrid (3)Lionel Messi Gianluigi Buffon
2018Luka ModrićMadrid (4)Cristiano Ronaldo Mohamed Salah
2019Virgil van DijkLiverpool FCLionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
2020Robert LewandowskiFC Bayern Munich (2)Kevin De Bruyne Manuel Neuer
2021JorginhoChelsea FCKevin De Bruyne N’Golo Kanté
2022Karim BenzemaReal MadridKevin De BruyneThibaut Courtois
2023Erling HaalandManchester CityLionel MessiKevin De Bruyne

UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award Winner List

YearWinnerTeamSecondThird
2013 Nadine Angerer1. FFC Frankfurt Lena Goessling Lotta Schelin
2014 Nadine KesslerVfL Wolfsburg Martina Müller Nila Fischer
2015 Celia Sasic1. FFC Frankfurt (2) Amandine Henry Dzsenifer Marozsán
2016 Adam HegerbergOlympique Lyon Amandine Henry Dzsenifer Marozsán
2017 Lieke MartensFC Rosengard Pernille Harder Dzsenifer Marozsán
2018 Pernille HarderVfL Wolfsburg (2) Adam Hegerberg Amandine Henry
2019 Lucy BronzeOlympique Lyon Adam Hegerberg Amandine Henry
2020 Pernille Harder (2)VfL Wolfsburg (3) Wendie Renard Lucy Bronze
2021 Alexia PutellasFC Barcelona Jennifer Hermoso Lieke Martens
2022 Alexia Putellas (2)FC Barcelona Beth Mead Lena Oberdorf
2023 Aitana BonmatíFC Barcelona Sam Kerr Olga Carmona

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