Renato Sanches has won the Golden Boy award after being named the best U-21 player in Europe. The award comes on the heels of an outstanding first season with Benfica and winning the 2016 European Championship.
"I'm very, very happy about the award. But I didn't win it single-handedly: I want to thank my team-mates in the Portugal squad and at my former club Benfica. This accolade is theirs too," Sanches said. "I'm very much looking forward to the ceremony tonight, I'll return happy."
The award has been given out annually since 2003 by Italian newspaper Tuttosport. They are are joined in the award process by other papers across Europe including Bild (Germany), Blick (Switzerland), A Bola (Portugal), l'Équipe (France), France Football (France), Marca (Spain), Mundo Deportivo (Spain), Ta Nea (Greece), Sport Express (Russia), De Telegraaf (Netherlands), and The Times (United Kingdom).
"I know in whose footsteps I'm following. I'm pleased, but I'm also aware of the very, very high expectations people have of me. I must work hard every day and give it everything if I'm to come even close to achieving what the players who won this award before me have achieved. I hope I'll be able to reach this world-class level some day.”
Previous winners include Rafael Van der Vaart, Wayne Rooney, Leo Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero, Mario Götze, and Paul Pogba.