Ruben Dias, a Manchester City defender, was named the Football Writers’ Association’s footballer of the year on Thursday.
The Portugal international triumphed over Tottenham striker Harry Kane and City teammate Kevin De Bruyne by a safe margin.
Dias, 24, has had an impressive first season at the Etihad Stadium since joining from Benfica in September for about £65 million ($92 million).
He has assisted Pep Guardiola’s City in winning the League Cup, regaining the Premier League trophy, and reaching the Champions League final, where they will face Chelsea on May 29 in Porto.
“It is a huge privilege. Obviously I could not have done it without the success of the team,” Dias said in an interview with the FWA.
“I think me receiving this prize is the major example of how our team works, the way we build our game.
“It reflects all the togetherness we have on the pitch, how we perform and the spirit that is in the team and with these players.”
Nine City players got votes in total. They received more than half of the total number of votes cast.
Dias is just the third player in English football history to receive the FWA award in his first season.
Steve Nicol of Liverpool was the last defender to win the trophy 32 years ago.
“Pep Guardiola strengthens players, forms them — but no new signing has ever arrived in one of Pep’s already trophy-laden teams and exercised such influence,” FWA chairwoman Carrie Brown said.
“Ruben Dias is our Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year for his leadership on and off the pitch as much as for the infectious joy he derives from executing the art of defending to perfection.”
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