MANCHESTER: Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah has been voted Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association (FWA), the latest accolade for the English Premier League’s top scorer.
The award comes a week after Salah was chosen as Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) after an outstanding season in which he has scored 43 goals in all competitions.
The 25-year-old is the first African player to win the FWA award which began in 1948.
Salah narrowly beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in a ballot of over 400 FWA members, with the winning margin less than 20 votes. Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane was placed third.
“What a race it has been between two players who, in a relatively short time, have reached genuine world class. But Mo Salah is the worthiest of winners. He is also the first African to receive the award and we congratulate him on a magnificent season,” FWA Chairman Patrick Barclay said.
Between them, Salah, signed by the Reds from AS Roma last summer, and De Bruyne, who helped City claim the Premier League title with five games remaining, collected more than 90 per cent of the journalists’ votes.
“It has been the tightest call since 1968/69, when there was a dead heat between Tony Book of Manchester City and Derby’s Dave Mackay,” added Barclay.
“Right up to the last week or so we thought it might happen again, so strong was the support for Kevin De Bruyne, but Mo Salah’s relentless match-winning form, exemplified by his two great goals against Roma, seems to have swung the vote by a very narrow margin.”
Salah, who struggled to make an impact during his first spell in England at Chelsea, has helped Liverpool, who are third in the Premier League, into the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 10 years.
The Merseyside club face Roma in the second leg in the Italian capital on Wednesday and lead 5-2 from the opening game at Anfield in which Salah scored twice and set up two other goals.
Salah will head to the World Cup in Russia in June to play for Egypt who have been drawn with the hosts, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay in Group ‘A’.
Other players to receive votes from FWA members were Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Nick Pope (Burnley), David Silva (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) and Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham).
The inaugural FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year Award was won by Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby who was also crowned PFA Women’s Player of the Year last month.