Real Madrid lead Uefa Best Player shortlist as Will Grigg places alongside Paul Pogba
Uefa have revealed the 10-player shortlist for the 2015/16 Uefa Best Player in Europe Award, although there was a surprise inclusion in the initial poll — Wigan Athletic striker Will Grigg.
There are few surprises in the final 10-man shortlist as four players from Uefa Champions League winners Real Madrid — Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Pepe, and Cristiano Ronaldo — are included, as well as two Barcelona players in Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The rest of the list comprises Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, and Bayern Munich pair Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer.
Real Madrid forward and Portugal captain Ronaldo is the favourite to win the award given his role in his club’s Champions League success and his nation’s triumph at Euro 2016.
A total of 37 players picked up votes in the initial poll, with Leicester City duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy finishing 11th and 12th respectively after inspiring their club to last season’s Premier League title.
A closer look down the list and among the leading players for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, Wigan striker Grigg gained enough votes to place tied-25th alongside Juventus pair Giorgio Chiellini and Paul Pogba, Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin, and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Grigg, 25, enjoyed a prolific club campaign for Wigan last season, scoring 25 goals to finish as League One Top Scorer, English football’s third tier. However, it is the chant associated with the Northern Ireland striker, Will Grigg’s on Fire, that has turned him into a cult hero.
Grigg was part of the Northern Ireland squad that participated at Euro 2016, and while he did not play a single minute in France, his chant proved so popular, it was adopted by other nations to become the unofficial anthem of Euro 2016.
And despite Euro 2016 ending two weeks ago, it seems the hero status of Grigg continues, as demonstrated by the Uefa poll.
FINAL 10-MAN SHORTLIST:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid & France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid & Germany)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich & Germany)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany)
Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
Luis Suárez (Barcelona & Uruguay)
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Published: July 18, 2016 04:00 AM