Cristiano Ronaldo and Lieke Martens earn UEFA’s top honors

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after scoring during World Cup Group B qualifying match between Latvia and Portugal at the Skonto Stadium in Riga, Latvia, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov)
AP Photo/Roman Koksarov

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lieke Martens have officially been tabbed as the top players in all of Europe. Earlier in the week, the tandem of heralded footballers were selected as the UEFA Players of the Year for the 2016-2017 slate.

“I’m so glad to be here, and honored to win this trophy again,” Ronaldo said. “Thank you to my team-mates and congratulations to them too. I’m so blessed – thanks also to the supporters of Real Madrid, and everyone who helped me to achieve this.”

The 32-year-old Ronaldo finished the most recent campaign with 42 goals over the course of 46 appearances. Ronaldo, a Real Madrid striker in addition to serving as Portugal’s cornerstone, managed to edge Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon by claiming the latest of his laundry list of awards. Although Ronaldo had one of his least productive seasons as an individual player in 2016-17, he notably led both Real Madrid and Portugal to unparalleled success.

On the other hand, a 24-year-old Barcelona forward in Martens, who notably helped the Netherlands win the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 on the international stage, received such an honor at a ceremony surrounding the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday. En route to claiming the heralded prize, she finished ahead of Wolfsburg and Denmark’s Pernille Harder and Olympique Lyonnais and Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsán.

“This is so amazing,” said Martens after receiving the award. “It’s a big honour. I’m really proud, but I couldn’t achieve this without my team-mates. I’m speechless!”

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