Paris, July 11 (IANS) Euro football championship winner Renato Sanches of Portugal was chosen above French winger Kingsley Coman and team-mate Raphael Guerreiro for the SOCAR Young Player of the Tournament award.
The accolade caps a sensational breakthrough season for the 18-year-old, 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 an Euro fixture.
He went on to star in the last-four victory over Wales and against France in Saint-Denis on Sunday, to 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, who joined Bayern Munich from Benfica in May for an initial 35 million euros ($38.6 million), 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 March 25.
For the award, Sanches edged out Coman, whom he will play alongside at Bayern next term, and Portugal team-mate 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.
The award winner — open to all players born on or after January 1, 1994 — was chosen by the UEFA technical observers, led by UEFA chief technical officer Ioan Lupescu and including Manchester United’s legendary coach Alex Ferguson and former French midfield star Alain Giresse.