Seamus Coleman: Following in big footsteps
Seamus Coleman’s meteoric rise to fame has been recognised by his peers, with a shortlist revealing that the ex-Sligo Rovers star is in the running for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, courtesy of his brilliant form for Everton. The Donegal native would be joining an elite group if he upset the odds and topped the poll ahead of Jack Wilshere, Gareth Bale, Samir Nasri, Nani, Javier Hernandez and Joe Hart. It's a stellar collection and very much in keeping with the roll of honour in the Premier League era. DANIEL McDONNELL takes a look back at past winners of the accolade
Published 09/04/2011 | 05:00
Ryan Giggs: Considering that subsequent winners have long since retired from the top level, Giggs is the classic case of a selection with staying power. He was picking up the gong for the second year in succession after taking the honour in the last renewal of the old Football League.
The front man had spent the majority of the previous season with Bristol City, but a move to Newcastle inspired the Magpies towards promotion. His first top flight campaign exceeded all expectations: he scored 41 goals in all competitions as Kevin Keegan's free-flowing side won plenty of admirers. Cole did too, and midway through the next term, he was on his way to Old Trafford.
1994/95 & 1995/96
No real surprise that the natural finisher, who burst onto the scene with devastating effect, picked up the gong for two years on the trot. Alas, for various reasons, Fowler failed to build on his youthful feats. He left for Leeds aged 26 and from there on he operated at a level below his earlier exploits.
A star -- and a brand -- was born when Beckham scored from the halfway line in a comfortable win over Wimbledon. This was the season when the Londoner forced his way into the right side of the United midfield on a regular basis, and the plaudits duly followed. 1997 was a memorable year for him. He scooped the PFA Young Player award and bagged a Spice Girl.
The real great white hope of English football had only made his Liverpool debut at the tail end of the previous season. Twelve months later, he finished up as the Premier League's joint top scorer and went on to make a starring contribution in that summer's World Cup. He was odds-on to secure the approval of his peers, and was considered a certainty to progress to greatness, a prediction which didn't quite come true.
This was the year when Manchester United secured a famous treble. But this award was voted on earlier, and it was an emerging French striker at Highbury who caught the eye. Appropriately enough, Anelka went on to be a team-mate to many of the voters in an eventful career that has taken him around England and beyond and made him the answer to a great number of football quiz questions.
David O'Leary's babies stormed into the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and Australian winger Kewell was an inspirational force in that journey, as well as the league performances which booked a place in the next season's Champions League -- a competition where they also reached the final four. Alas, in direct contrast to Fowler and Owen, Kewell's career graph went downwards once he joined Liverpool.
Gerard Houllier's Reds picked up three trophies at the end of the season, with the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup bound for the Anfield cabinet. Gerrard was the heartbeat of the team from the centre of midfield and was duly recognised as the outstanding young talent in the country. But the search for a Premier League title goes on.
The Welsh firebrand was brought to the club by Bobby Robson in pre-season, and the late manager succeeded in getting an instant return. It was a slippery slope from there, however, as he fell out with strike partner Alan Shearer among numerous others. In many ways, he remains the same today as he was then: an immense talent with character flaws. Now seeking maturity on a loan stint in the Championship.
Another Robson capture who turned heads in his debut season at St James' Park, covering plenty of ground and proving effective at both ends of the pitch. However, the midfielder has failed to ascend to the top bracket, and is an ordinary member of a Spurs team where his name wouldn't feature in a list of their top five performers.
Moved across London from Charlton mid-season, incurring the wrath of Alan Curbishley, but could never really break into Jose Mourinho's plans at Chelsea and, after a mixed late 20s, is in contention for the senior honour as he shines once more as a big fish in a small pond at West Ham.
There were smiles, rather than insults, for the camera as Rooney -- who was in the running against Parker -- joined Giggs and Fowler as a back-to-back winner after an impressive start to life at Old Trafford following his move from Everton. His story continues.
The Portuguese attacker was winning awards at the speed that he picks up women as his star continued to rise. May not have figured highly in a popularity contest around the grounds or in TV studios, but his fellow pros weren't swayed by that. He emulated Andy Gray by winning the senior award in the same year.
A fitting addition to the list. Fabregas turned 21 at the conclusion of this season, but had been at the heart of the Gunners engine room since 2004/05. He has since added European Championship and World Cup winners medals to his collection, yet the suspicion is that the most significant chapter of his club career is yet to come -- fitness permitting.
This was a competitive year, with no stand-out candidate. Stephen Ireland, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aaron Lennon, Jonny Evans and Rafael da Silva were the others in the frame. Young shaded it, with his crucial contributions to Martin O'Neill's Villa side keeping up the tradition of attack-orientated players taking the prize.
Another Villa success, as Milner surprisingly touched off previous winners Fabregas and Rooney, in addition to Joe Hart. The man in demand was successfully chased by Manchester City in the summer. As it stands, Hart is a far more important part of the furniture than the midfielder is at Eastlands.