Argentine player Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez and manager Marcelo “Muñeco” Gallardo were awarded the Rey de America soccer prizes on Monday by the Uruguayan daily El Pais, honoring them as the best player and best manager of 2018, respectively, for leading River Plate to the Copa Libertadores title.
This is the 33rd year that the newspaper has handed out the honor, whose previous winners include, among others, Neymar, Ronaldinho, Carlos Valderrama, Enzo Francescoli and Jose Luis Chilavert.
The Argentines follow in the footsteps of Brazilians Luan Guilherme de Jesus Vieira and Adenor Leonardo “Tite” Bacchi, who won the same awards last year.
Martinez, who will make his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut in 2019 with Atlanta United, received 130 of the 320 votes cast by sportswriters in the survey, or 41 percent of the total.
The forward was one of the key players in River Plate’s campaign to win its fourth Copa Libertadores title and scored one of the goals that helped Gallardo’s squad beat arch-rival Boca Juniors 3-1 in the historic final played in Madrid.
The Copa Libertadores is South America’s premier club tournament.
In 2018, the 25-year-old Martinez scored 11 goals, including four goals in the Superliga Argentina; two goals in the Copa Argentina; and three goals in the Copa Libertadores, one of which was against Gremio in the semifinals and one against Boca in the final.
He also scored two goals at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup against Kashima, helping River take third place.
Martinez also made his debut with the Argentine national team, playing in friendlies against Colombia and Guatemala, and scoring one goal.
Gallardo, for his part, has added another big prize to his long resume, which includes awards as a soccer player and coach.
The 42-year-old Gallardo had a high number of ballots cast in his favor and won with 87 percent of the vote.
The Rey de America prizes will be handed out in the Uruguayan resort city of Punta del Este on Jan. 8.