The UEFA Player of the Year Award is an annual honour which is given to the best player in Europe based on their previous season’s performance for both club and the national team.

As quoted by the UEFA, the award "recognises the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a football club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season."

First presented in 2011, the Player of the Year award replaced the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year title which ran from 1998 to 2010.

During the first six years of the UEFA Player of the Year Award, the voting format was similar to that of the Ballon d’Or, meaning that it was based purely on the judgement of journalists.

In 2017, however, UEFA decided to add 80 coaches from the teams that participated in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for better judgement.

Former Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was the first-ever recipient of the award in 2011 while Cristiano Ronaldo remains the only player to win it a record three times (2014, 2016, 2017). Furthermore, the Portugal captain has finished inside the top three in nine of the past 11 editions.

Karim Benzema is the current UEFA Men's Player of the Year and he became the first French player after Franck Ribery (2012-13) to win the award.

Since its inception, players from Spain’s La Liga have won the honour the most times (8). They are followed by England and Germany who have had two representatives in the past. 

Meanwhile, two years after the rebranding of the UEFA Player of the Year honour, the organising committee also introduced the same award for female footballers. The criteria and voting system were kept the same for the UEFA Women's Player of the Year Award. 

Nadine Angerer of Germany won the first edition in 2013 while Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas is the current recipient of the award. She is the only player to win the award twice in a row.

UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award winners list

Season Player Team
2010-11 Lionel Messi Barcelona
2011-12 Andres Iniesta Barcelona
2012-13 Franck Ribery Bayern Munich
2013-14 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
2014-15 Lionel Messi Barcelona
2015-16 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
2016-17 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
2017-18 Luka Modric Real Madrid
2018-19 Virgil van Dijk Liverpool
2019-20 Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich
2020-21 Jorginho Chelsea
2021-22 Karim Benzema Real Madrid

UEFA Women's Player of the Year Award winners list

Season Player Team
2012-13 Nadine Angerer Frankfurt
2013-14 Nadine Kessler Wolfsburg
2014-15 Celia Sasic Frankfurt
2015-16 Ada Hegerberg Lyon
2016-17 Lieke Martens Barcelona
2017-18 Pernille Harder Wolfsburg
2018-19 Lucy Bronze Lyon
2019-20 Pernille Harder Wolfsburg
2020-21 Alexia Putellas Barcelona
2021-22 Alexia Putellas Barcelona

Featured photo: AFP / OZAN KOSE