Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the three final nominees for the 2015-16 UEFA Best Player in Europe award, with the winner to be announced at the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday.
The Real Madrid Madrid forward, along with team-mate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann make up the shortlist for this year’s award.
The trio received the most votes from journalists from each of UEFA’s 55 member associations, finishing ahead of a field comprising some of Europe’s most illustrious names.
Ronaldo enjoyed arguably his most successful season in 2015-16, winning Europe’s two most prestigious competitions (Champions League and Euro 2016) within the space of two months with Real Madrid and Portugal respectively. The 31-year-old passed the 50-goal mark for the sixth consecutive season with Real Madrid. He was also the Champions League’s leading goalscorer with a record-equalling 16 goals
The Portugal forward spoke about his memorable season on the eve of the UEFA awards.
Q: How do you feel about being one of the three nominees for the Best Player of Europe award?
Cristiano Ronaldo: Well, I see it as a privilege. Since the prize has been around I’ve almost always been in the mix. I think there have been four editions of the prize and I’ve been nominated for three, if I remember correctly, so it’s an honour.
It’s a sign of a great season on an individual level and on a collective level too, with Real Madrid having won the Champions League, and obviously it’s a beautiful moment in my career and I’m happy.
Q: Looking back at the season, what was the highlight?
Cristiano Ronaldo: Well, it was a year that had a bit of everything. We didn’t make a good start, or rather we didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we ended it well – that was the key to the season. I think that with [Zinedine] Zidane’s arrival, many aspects of the team improved.
We were able to win the Champions League, on a personal level I was the top scorer in the Champions League en route to us winning it, so it was possibly one of the best years of my career.
Q: On that very note, how would you rate last season in relation to the rest of your career?
Cristiano Ronaldo: In terms of trophies it was possibly the best year of my career. After winning the Champions League, winning the European Championship with my country capped an extraordinary year for me.
Trophy-wise it was the tops, I’ve never had a better year. The same goes both collectively and individually, because I was the top scorer in the Champions League and had a good European Championship, and we were able to win the two most important trophies.
So it really was a top-drawer, excellent season for me.
Q: How much would it mean to you to win the Best Player in Europe award?
Cristiano Ronaldo: It would be something very important for me. It’s obviously an individual trophy. The most important thing was that we won trophies as a team.
Top ten (in alphabetical order)
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid & France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid & Germany)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Thomas Müller (Bayern München & Germany)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern München & Germany)
Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
Remaining nominees (based on number of votes received)
11 Riyad Mahrez (Leicester & Algeria)
12 Jamie Vardy (Leicester & England)
13 Dimitri Payet (West Ham & France)
14 Jérôme Boateng (Bayern München & Germany)
15 Arturo Vidal (Bayern München & Chile)
16 Luka Modrić (Real Madrid & Croatia)
17 N’Golo Kanté (Leicester & France)
18 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain/Manchester United & Sweden)
19= Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium)
19= Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona & Spain)
19= Neymar (Barcelona & Brazil)
19= Renato Sanches (Benfica/Bayern München & Portugal)
23 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern München & Poland)
24 Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli & Argentina)
25= Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus & Italy)
25= Diego Godin (Atlético Madrid & Uruguay)
25= Will Grigg (Wigan & Northern Ireland)
25= Hugo Lloris (Tottenham & France)
25= Paul Pogba (Juventus & France)
30= Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham & Belgium)
30= Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund & Gabon)
30= Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium)
30= Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla & France)
30= Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla/Paris Saint-Germain & Poland)
30= Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain & France)
30= Georges-Kévin N’Koudou (Marseille & France)
30= Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid & Slovenia)