Standing on a stage next to the two most prolific goal scorers in the world, Andres Iniesta finally received his due.
Iniesta was chosen as the 2011-12 UEFA Best Player in Europe, beating out Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo to take home the individual honors that were voted on by a panel of 53 European journalists at the UEFA Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday.
Iniesta, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, had another standout season with Barcelona in 2011-12, but he took his individual play to another level in Euro 2012, where he was named the tournament's best player and helped Spain to a second consecutive European championship.
It marks the first major individual award for Iniesta, who finished fourth in the voting for last year's inaugural Best Player in Europe award and second in the voting for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or (World Player of the Year). Messi or Ronaldo had won both awards every season dating back to 2008.
Here are a few more stories from around the soccer world:
DEFOE SIGNS NEW TOTTENHAM DEAL
Jermain Defoe is not going anywhere.
Despite loads of speculation that the Tottenham forward would be headed elsewhere prior to Friday's transfer deadline, Defoe signed a new three-year deal to remain at White Hart Lane. With him staying on with Spurs, it gives the club an attacking nucleus that features Defoe and the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Bale and new signing Moussa Dembele. Defoe's new deal will carry on through the summer of 2015.
QPR AGREE ON FEE FOR GRANERO
Queens Park Rangers' summer of spending continues to roll on.
The London club agreed with Real Madrid on a transfer fee for 25-year-old Spanish attacking midfielder Esteban Granero, and his signing is pending him agreeing to personal terms with the team.
Granero, who came up in the Real Madrid youth system and returned to the club in 2009 after a year at Getafe, had been surpassed on the depth chart at Madrid and only started 15 league games in the last two seasons. He has yet to play a minute for Madrid this season and would join the likes of Julio Cesar, Junior Hoilett, Park Ji-Sung and Jose Bosingwa as new acquisitions for QPR.
FULHAM CLOSE IN ON RICHARDSON
Fulham continues to be an active player in the transfer market, though the club's latest move is not the one most Americans are anticipating.
On a day during which the club is finalizing a deal for Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, the Cottagers are closing in on signing English international midfielder Kieran Richardson from Sunderland for a £2 million transfer fee. Richardson, a 27-year-old former Manchester United youth product and player, has been with Sunderland since 2007.
What do you think of Iniesta winning the Best Player in Europe award? Surprised to see Defoe stay with Tottenham? How do you see Spurs finishing this year? Do you see all of QPRs spending paying off with a top-half finish in the Premier League table? What do you think of Fulham's recent moves?
Share your thoughts below.