LONDON: Arsenal striker Thierry Henry was named the English Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year on Sunday.
The Frenchman, nominated for the award three years in a row, has enjoyed a rich vein of form this season, scoring 22 Premier League goals in Arsenal’s bid for a second straight league and Cup Double.
“This means a lot to me because the other players have voted for me,” Henry was quoted as saying on the Sky Sports website. “They all know better than anyone else because they play against me and they must have noticed something, so I’m happy they have noticed something.
“It’s never easy when you come from another country to get people to like you but, at the end of the day, the most important thing is football, no matter which country you are from.
“We are all trying to play the same and to do well on the pitch, so nationality doesn’t really matter.”
Three of the 25-year-old Henry’s strikes have been voted Goal of the Month – against West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City – making him the first player to achieve the feat three times in a season.
Henry took the honour ahead of Manchester United duo Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy, Chelsea veteran Gianfranco Zola and Southampton striker James Beattie.
“There were some great names on the shortlist and some equally good ones who didn’t make it, but that’s because there are so many great players in the English League and that is why I am so happy to win this,” Henry added. “It means a lot when the players vote for you.”
Henry breaks three years of Manchester United domination of the award. Irish midfielder Roy Keane took the vote in 2000, striker Teddy Sheringham, now with Tottenham Hotspur, won it in 2001 and Van Nistelrooy 12 months ago.
The last Arsenal player to take the PFA award was Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp in 1998. Arsenal’s Irish midfielder Liam Brady won it in 1979.
Newcastle United midfielder Jermaine Jenas was named Young Player of the Year, edging out his teammate Craig Bellamy, Everton striker Wayne Rooney, Manchester United defender John O’Shea, Charlton midfielder Scott Parker and West Ham forward Jermain Defoe.
“This means a lot to me, it is a massive achievement,” Jenas said. “I felt I’d had a good season but to win this shows me what the other players think of me and it’s a great achievement.
“I was slightly surprised but I knew I’d be in the running because I believe in my own ability and I was hoping I would be up there and it is so nice to win it.” – Reuters