Frenchman Franck Ribéry was just awarded the trophy for the UEFA Best Player in Europe. The award, which was first handed out in 2011, recognizes the best player from a European soccer club the previous season. Ribéry plays for FC Bayern, who won the UEFA Champions League over German rivals Borussia Dortmund, 2-1, last May. Ribéry beat out Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ribéry was always the favorite to win it. Even though it's an individual award and both Messi and Ronaldo are better players who had vastly superior individual statistics, Bayern won everything last year. They got to the Champions League final by beating Barcelona 7-0 over two legs. Bayern also won the German Bundesliga by 21 points and the DFB-Pokal, Germany's domestic tournament. They were the best team in Europe last year, and it wasn't all that close.


Bayern were a balanced side, which is why they smashed everyone, and someone had to represent the side on the podium. To his credit, Ribéry finished the season with 11 goals and 18 assists through all competitions. Still, his victory over Ronaldo and Messi illuminates the judges' criteria. Ronaldo had 57 goals and 11 assists last season. Messi had 60 and 14.

Photo Credit: Associated Press