Lionel Messi has become the first two-time winner of UEFA’s best player in Europe award after being crowned winner of the prestigious prize for the 2014-15 season in Monaco on Thursday.
Past winners have included Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta, with Messi himself winning the inaugural award in 2011.
Messi beat off competition from Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez, as well as long-term rival for most of football’s highest accolades, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Voted for by a panel of European journalists after Thursday’s Champions League draw, Messi won the award after a stunning season for Barcelona last term, scoring 58 goals in only 57 games.
Both Messi’s goals and performances for Barcelona last season were an integral part of the team that achieved an unprecedented second Treble in only six years, winning a La Liga title, Copa del Rey, and Europe’s most coveted prize, the Champions League.
Messi was not without competition for the award however, with both Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo also having had stunning campaigns for their respective teams.
Despite being unable to play for the first two months of the season, Messi’s Uruguayan teammate Suarez was also a key factor in the team’s domestic and European success, finishing the season with 25 goals in all competitions, as well as an impressive 20 assists.
Cristiano Ronaldo also had a breathtaking year for Real Madrid, breaking his own previous record for most goals in a season, scoring a spectacular 61 goals in only 54 games.
Despite this return however, Ronaldo was unable to bring success to his team in the same way Messi and Suarez managed for Barcelona.
Real Madrid, by their own standards, had a disappointing season, succeeding only in securing the FIFA Club World Cup, after failing to retain their European title as well as struggling to keep pace with Barcelona in the Spanish title race.