Footballer of the Year: 'We do not always fix this, but rarely misunderstand'

Footballer of the Year: 'We do not always fix this, but rarely misunderstand'

The Football Writers' Association of England made some controversial choices, but the award was well received.


Football of the Year was announced at 10 a.m. today, and one thing is for sure - not everyone will agree with this election. Members of the Football Writers' Association of England (FWA) often take equal steps in selecting a voted player, and they have been giving this honor since 1948, making it the oldest individual award of its kind in world football.

An important difference between the Writers' Award, which began a quarter of a century later, and the PFA's Player of the Year is that journalists have traditionally considered behavior on and off the field to be more than pure football ability. The founding fathers of the FWA, including former England internationals Charles Buchanan and Evan Sharp, were nominated in 1947 for the award for True Word Player, who was "considered by football document and example this year."

That sentence makes a crucial difference between a player who has shown great abilities - and each year makes a crucial difference - a football player who has carried himself well, shown good character, and made a significant impact on the English game.

The fact that the first winner was Stanley Matthews embodies this idea in the best possible way. Matthews is not only the greatest English player of all time, but he is also a role model, never booked, a fitness fan and visionary, and the best ambassador of the game. He regained it in 1963, shortly before retiring as the greatest man to ever appear on a top plane in English football at the age of fifty.

So he is not the best football player to ever win. When talents like Der Mack and Tony Book share awards like 1969, sometimes players get more recognition for their stunning victories than the old, successful captains of Derby County and Manchester City.

For example, this year’s Marcus Rashford vote comes after a stellar attempt to feed orphans and change policy from the UK government. Few would argue that Rashford is the best footballer in the Premier League. Jordan Henderson is a front-runner, although even his big fans admit he has not had a season on the pitch, be it teammates Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dyck or Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Many football writers, including you, consider Kevin de Bruyne to be the best and most complete footballer currently playing in England, but he may lose the Liverpool player as he wins the Premier League.

De Bruyne wonders what it would look like if he could lead Manchester City to a Champions League victory. When Manchester United fail to produce a footballer this year despite completing the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup Treble, he or another player may win if 1999 or repeat.

Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel, Ryan Giggs, Teddy Sheringham, and others were among the candidates - but the red vote was split, with Tottenham's David Ginola winning. Suffice it to say that Alex Ferguson was not impressed and that his infamous comments to many football journalists were removed from another level.

"You know what?" The tone of his repost.

This is an important point. It is often the highest honor for a PFA Player of the Year to thank his teammates and say that he is the best choice for his teammates.

Yet many players know how much PFA members think about their voting responsibilities.

The policy is that the votes of each club captain or PFA representative are collected, often followed en masse, and handed over to the PFA headquarters. In the case of the FWA, each of the more than 500 members has one vote, and the difference of opinion is generally non-partisan and often a good indicator of the consideration given by journalists with decades of experience and experience. Thousands of games.

So this year the footballer does not know how to appreciate the good taste and judgment of the FWA members - and when Keane, Sheringham, Cristiano Ronaldo (twice), and Wayne Rooney won this award, we have to admit it was right.

Traditionally, dinner in London on Thursday before the FA Cup Finals featured a long-running Hungarian restaurant in front of the Royal Lancaster Hotel and then Cafe Royale. It was postponed this year due to Covid-19 but is now hosted by the Landmark Hotel.

The Pre-FA Cup final has been moved from Thursday to allow the Premier League final to be over the weekend, after which many players will celebrate the holidays. Only a few winners failed to receive their trophy in person, some for good reason, others not.

Terry McDermott was unable to attend the dinner in 1980 as planned.

Some crazy phone calls brought the news that the Liverpool midfielder was in dispute and worse than alcohol and did not attend! Perhaps not coincidentally, in later years, McDermott sold his award and the PFA trophy and other medals he won the same season.

Some players have more reasonable excuses. When I became FWA chairman in 2003, Thierry Henry was the winner and guest of honor. When he regained it the following year, he was invited to play in the FIFA Centenary match against UEFA 11 in Paris the same night, so two-time winner Gary Lainker accepted the award. The former England captain has confirmed his age as a public speaker.

The following year, Frank Lampard put me and the FWA committee on the hooker, announcing in advance that it would be too late to accept the award. However, this is completely understandable. Chelsea won the title four days ago when one of their biggest fans, 10-year-old Lucy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and did not expect to live as long as they won. She worked hard to get to Stamford Bridge for the final game - and get a hug from her favorite player, Frank Lampard.

She died soon after and decided to attend her funeral in Kent on the same day as our awards night. I apologized to Lampard for saying ‘thank you’ and sitting down quickly, as his car had been stolen the night before and he was stuck in traffic on the way to dinner. He greeted more than 600 guests from around the football and media world, including four former England managers.

It took the house away and restored the confidence of one of the football players as the best man and was reprinted in the Observer that weekend.

Not all winners have decided to host the event. In 2014, Luis Suarez told the FWA that he needed an emergency club business abroad, but it became clear that he was making an announcement for his sponsors. A year later, Eden Hazard canceled the award day citing surgery for his problematic wisdom tooth and surprised one of our colleagues who interviewed him yesterday.

But most of the winners are kind and respectful and talk eloquently about the award. Past winners are always invited back to dinner and some old-timers like Great Pat Jennings will never miss the opportunity to get to know old friends from the world of football and journalism.

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