Andrés Iniesta has been voted the 2011/12 winner of the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in Monaco.
The FC Barcelona midfielder, who helped Spain defend their UEFA European Championship title this summer, finished ahead of club-mate Lionel Messi, last year's inaugural winner, and Real Madrid CF's Cristiano Ronaldo in a poll of sports journalists representing each of UEFA's member national associations.
Iniesta collected his prize following today's UEFA Champions League group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco and said: "I'm very happy to receive such recognition. As I always say, such awards for one individual can't be achieved without the whole team. So it's a sensation that I want to share with my team-mates at the club, and in the national team. It's recognition for the work that you have done well, and that people are proud and have faith in what you do."
The 28-year-old was in inspired form for Spain at UEFA EURO 2012: he was named Best Player of the Tournament after starting all six games and was also included in the Team of the Tournament. Iniesta also broke Emilio Butragueño's record of 50 Liga matches without defeat last term. He finally ended up on the losing side in game 56 when Real Madrid CF triumphed 2-1 at the Camp Nou in April.
The UEFA Best Player in Europe Award was born out of an initiative by UEFA President Michel Platini and has the intention of reviving the spirit of the old European Footballer of the Year award. For the vote, players were judged by their performances during the 2011/12 campaign in all competitions, both domestic and international, and at club and national team levels.
How the journalists voted:
1 Andrés Iniesta (ESP) – FC Barcelona (19 votes)
2 Lionel Messi (ARG) – FC Barcelona (17 votes)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Real Madrid CF (17 votes)