Deco received his Best Midfielder accolade from former Germany star and current Hungary coach Lothar Matthäus at the glittering ceremony at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club. The Brazilian-born playmaker, who turns 27 tomorrow, was later called back on stage to accept the Most Valuable Player award from France legend and current UEFA Executive Committee member Michel Platini.
The Portuguese international, who joined Barcelona from Porto earlier this summer, follows a long line of distinguished players to have won the ceremony's foremost accolade. Ronaldo, David Beckham, Fernando Redondo, Stefan Effenberg, Zinedine Zidane and Gianluigi Buffon have all claimed this honour since the awards were inaugurated in 1998.
Deco's former Porto colleagues Vítor Baía and Ricardo Carvalho were chosen as Best Goalkeeper and Best Defender respectively. The Porto custodian, who will play in Friday's Super Cup encounter, received his award from ex-Danish No1 Peter Schmeichel. Carvalho, now with Chelsea FC, will be handed his prize at a later date.
The most prolific striker from last season's Champions League, Fernando Morientes, was chosen as Best Forward. Morientes, now back at Real Madrid CF after spending a term on loan with AS Monaco FC, picked up his award from Prince Albert of Monaco.
For the first time, the UEFA European Championship winners were also honoured at the ceremony. Theodoros Zagorakis was presented with his UEFA EURO 2004™ Player of the Tournament award by Didier Deschamps. Zagorakis in turn gave the award for the competition's winning coach to Otto Rehhagel.
There were also a number of special presentations. Ernie Walker, president of UEFA's stadium and security committee, received the UEFA President's Award from UEFA President Lennart Johansson, while the Order of Merit award went to Jacques Ferran, the former L'Équipe journalist who worked with Gabriel Hanot on establishing the European Champion Clubs' Cup 50 years ago.
There was another President's Award for Portugal, with Portuguese Football Federation president Gilberto Madaíl accepting the honour from Mr Johansson. The UEFA Charity Award was presented by UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson to former Italian international Giacinto Facchetti on behalf of the International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability, who received the annual UEFA charity cheque for CHF1m.
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