The Professional Footballers Association dished out its annual player awards at a swish gala last night, and England were well represented on the shortlists for both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.
The senior award was predictably and rightly won by Robin van Persie, named by his fellow professionals as their Player of the Year. The Arsenal striker has had a phenomenal campaign and continued the form of an extremely impressive calendar year in 2011. For goals, leadership and improvement, it’s difficult to see past the man with legs no longer made of glass. He’s been brilliant, and he thoroughly deserves his award.
Young Player of the Year went to an Englishman, Tottenham Hotspur right back Kyle Walker. After spending time out on loan at various clubs since joining Spurs – I’m grateful that he played for my club for a while, because he’s a fantastic player to watch – Walker has made his own a starting place for a Spurs team that was, at the time of voting, making a genuine case for a comfortable UEFA Champions League spot. Consistency and reliability in an excellent side, coupled with blistering pace and the capacity to excite, seems a great way to judge a young player, and Walker passes that with flying colours.
His game has undoubtedly improved, and while he’s always been a threat going forward he is also a more than capable defender, possibly more through his strong recovery skills than his ever-improving defensive wits.