Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for the 2011-2012 season on Thursday.

Iniesta earned 19 votes in the poll of journalists from across Europe, two more than Barcelona teammate and last year’s winner, Lionel Messi, and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iniesta

The 28-year-old Iniesta was instrumental in helping Spain successfully defend its European Championship title this summer and was crowned the tournament’s best player.

A three-man shortlist was selected by a panel of 53 journalists drawn from each of UEFA’s member nations. The same journalists then voted for the winner immediately after the draw for this season’s Champions League group stage.

UEFA created the honour after France Football magazine combined its traditional European award with FIFA’s world player prize.

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