Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches has been named as SOCAR Young Player of the Tournament at UEFA EURO 2016.
The award winner – open to all players born on or after 1 January 1994 – was chosen by the UEFA technical observers, led by UEFA chief technical officer Ioan Lupescu and including Sir Alex Ferguson and Alain Giresse.
The accolade caps a sensational breakthrough season for the teenager, whose performances as a substitute in three of Fernando Santos’ side’s first four matches in France earned him his maiden international start for the quarter-final against Poland.
Sanches scored his first goal for his country that night in Marseille, making him the third-youngest player to register in a EURO finals fixture. He went on to both star in the last-four victory over Wales and, against France in Saint-Denis on Sunday, become the competition’s youngest-ever finalist at 18 years and 328 days and its youngest winner – Portugal prevailing 1-0 to claim their first major title.
The Lisbon-born tyro, who joined Bayern München from Benfica in May for an initial €35m, began the 2015/16 campaign in the Eagles’ B team and appeared in the UEFA Youth League, UEFA European under-19 Championship qualifying and the UEFA Champions League before making his Portugal debut on 25 March.
For the award, Sanches edged out France winger Kingsley Coman, whom he will play alongside at Bayern next term, and Portugal team-mate Raphael Guerreiro. Left-sided defender Guerreiro was born a short distance from the Stade de France, and will face Coman and Sanches in the 2016/17 Bundesliga after moving from Lorient to Borussia Dortmund.