The 31-year-old number 8, a long-time front runner for the honour, beat off competition from retiring Leicester captain Martin Johnson (29,585) to rule the European roost, after 100,000+ rugby supporters had cast their votes.
Foley, also the first player to receive an ERC Elite Award for playing 50 Heineken Cup games, admitted: "I'm delighted. I wondered why my mother had been so busy on the internet.
"It has been a real pleasure playing in this tournament from the outset, and it has changed dramatically down the years. The competition is magnificent, which ever of the six countries you play in, and there are now no easy games.
"When Heineken Cup time comes around in the season your adrenalin starts pumping and the heart starts racing. I have been involved in some incredible games in this tournament and the Munster fans have made all of them extra special.
"I grew up with my dad, Brendan, regaling me with stories of when he helped Munster beat the All Blacks. The Heineken Cup has given me a few tales of my own to bore my kids with in the future.
"I'll never forget that day. There were 22 players and a few coaches who believed we could actually do it - and we did. The atmosphere in San Sebastian for this season's quarter-final against Biarritz was rather special and I'm just looking forward to having some more great days in seasons to come.
"Thanks to everyone for voting for me, it's a great honour."
There was a double Munster celebration when their epic 2004 semi-final loss to eventual winners Wasps at Lansdowne Road was voted as the "Best Match" in the European tournament's ten-year history.