Andres Iniesta, European Footballer of the Year, Not Messi or Ronaldo

For the first time since 2007, someone not called Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi wins the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, what was once the Ballon d’Or, won by Andres Iniesta of Barcelona for the 2011-2012 season.

Voting for Iniesta showed two things – The voters weren’t in it for the numbers and maybe felt a bit bored by giving it to Messi, who has won it twice in a row, despite Messi’s record breaking season with Barcelona, scoring 73 goals in all competitions and 50 in the La Liga. They were also feeling that despite Cristiano Ronaldo leading Real Madrid to their first La Liga title in four seasons wit 46 La Liga goals wasn’t too impressive.

Winning Euro 2012 and winning the player of the tournament award – Now that’s impressive. While all the debates were about whether Messi or Ronaldo deserves the trophy, each for their own reasons, Iniesta came out as the surprising winner thanks to something that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheets. He didn’t score a single goal for Spain this summer and had only eight for Barcelona in the 2011-2012 season, missing 11 matches in the league and more in other competitions.

Still, his ability to create for others and often being the most dangerous man on the pitch just because of his ability to create space for himself and others while slowly but steadily taking over Xavi’s role with Spain and Barcelona as the main play maker for both club & country has made him a bit more appealing to take home the prize, with Lionel Messi smiling and Cristiano Ronaldo frowning (as always), than in previous years, which made it too difficult to ignore the two best players in the world.

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