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2017: Dani Ceballos

Published: Tuesday 25 July 2017, 9.00CET
Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos was the inaugural winner of the new Player of the Tournament award that was introduced for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
2017: Dani Ceballos
Dani Ceballos received his Player of the Tournament award from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin ©Getty Images
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Published: Tuesday 25 July 2017, 9.00CET

2017: Dani Ceballos

Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos was the inaugural winner of the new Player of the Tournament award that was introduced for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Barely two weeks had elapsed since the U21 EURO when Dani Ceballos completed his move from Real Betis to Real Madrid – which tells you everything about the quality of his performances during the championship in Poland.

The midfielder's displays had been judged worthy of the new Player of the Tournament prize by UEFA's team of technical observers at the finals, who were looking for players to show exceptional skills, make decisive contributions, have a positive attitude and, crucially, dedicate their individual abilities to the collective effort of the team. Ceballos ticked all the boxes.

The award replaced the 'Golden Player' honour given to the outstanding performer of the event's previous editions.

Many inside the Krakow Stadium on the night of the final had assumed top scorer Saúl Ñíguez or majestic playmaker Marco Asensio would be vying for the accolade. Even after Spain's surprise defeat by Germany, they seemed the two favourites. Ceballos, though, had done enough in just 295 minutes of tournament football to be recognised ahead of his celebrated team-mates.

The 20-year-old began the finals as a substitute, coming on 63 minutes into Spain's opening 5-0 win against FYR Macedonia. That cameo prompted him to start – and play throughout – the 3-1 success over Portugal on matchday two. With his team already qualified, coach Albert Celades then made 11 changes for the last group fixture against Serbia; Ceballos was back on the bench.

However, the Andalusian missed only two minutes combined of the semi-final and final against Italy and Germany respectively. It was during these matches that he truly made his mark, showcasing his authority in possession, ability to dictate the tempo and eye for a pass that made him a key cog in a very slick Spanish machine.

That Celades's side eventually lost the final mattered not – Ceballos had announced himself quite resoundingly on the big stage. And Madrid had been watching.

Previous Golden Players
2015: William Carvalho
2013: Thiago Alcántara

2011: Juan Mata
2009: Marcus Berg
2007: Royston Drenthe
2006: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
2004: Alberto Gilardino
2002: Petr Čech
2000: Andrea Pirlo
1998: Francesc Arnau
1996: Fabio Cannavaro
1994: Luís Figo
1992: Renato Buso
1990: Davor Šuker
1988: Laurent Blanc
1986: Manuel Sanchís
1984: Mark Hateley
1982: Rudi Völler
1980: Anatoliy Demyanenko
1978: Vahid Halilhodžić

Last updated: 29/08/17 16.42CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2017/golden-player/index.html#2017+dani+ceballos