Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
The midfielder, who lifted the Reds’ first title for 30 years on Wednesday, was the outright winner ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.
He has skippered Liverpool to their first Premier League crown this season with Jurgen Klopp’s side 18 points ahead of Manchester City before Sunday’s final game at Newcastle
Henderson also spearheaded the #playerstogether initiative during the coronavirus lockdown which saw players team up with NHS Charities Together to raise money for the NHS.
He said: “I’d like to say how appreciative I am of the support of those who voted for me and the Football Writers’ Association in general.
“You only have to look at the past winners of it, a number of whom I’ve been blessed to play with here at Liverpool, like Stevie (Steven Gerrard), Luis (Suarez) and Mo (Mohamed Salah) to know how prestigious it is.
“But as grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own. I don’t feel like anything I’ve achieved this season or in fact during my whole career has been done on my own.
“I owe a lot to so many different people – but none more so than my current team-mates – who have just been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.
“We’ve only achieved what we’ve achieved because every single member of our squad has been brilliant and not just in matches. Not just in producing the moments that make the headlines and the back pages but every day in training.
“The players who’ve started the most games for us this season have been as good as they have been because of our culture and our environment at Melwood. No one individual is responsible for that – it’s a collective effort and that’s how I view accepting this honour.
“I accept it on behalf of this whole squad, because without them I’m not in a position to be receiving this honour. These lads have made me a better player – a better leader and a better person.
“If anything I hope those who voted for me did so partly to recognise the entire team’s contribution.
“Individual awards are nice and they are special and I will cherish this one. But an individual award without the collective achievement wouldn’t mean anywhere as much to me – if anything at all.”
As well as the top five of Henderson De Bruyne, Marcus Rashford, Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane, 10 other players received votes from FWA members.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Raheem Sterling, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Sergio Aguero, Adama Traore, Danny Ings, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jonny Evans were all nominated.
FWA chair Carrie Brown said: “Leadership is intangible and often unquantifiable unless it is inarguable. Jordan Henderson is both the ultimate professional and now a bona fide Liverpool legend.
“Jordan is a player his team-mates look to on the pitch and who his rivals look up to off it.
“The voting criteria for the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year is one who leads by precept and example and in this country’s darkest moment, Jordan, unprompted, personally rallied club captains to establish #PlayersTogether.
“He is a truly worthy winner of our award.”
The Footballer of the Year trophy has been awarded since 1948 when Sir Stanley Matthews was its first recipient.
Klopp felt there was not a player more deserving.
“I am not always happy with what football writers write, but at least we have a similar opinion in a few departments,” he said.
“He would have been my choice as well this year. Even in our team there have been exceptional performers the whole year, but the whole package – attitude and consistency – of Hendo was really special this year. I’m really happy for him.”