Liverpool forward Luis Suárez has been named the Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year for 2013-14, becoming the first non-European to win the award. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has won the Young Player of the Year Award.
Suárez also beat his club-mates Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge to the prize having scored 30 goals in the Premier League so far, including two hat-tricks and four in one match, propelling Liverpool to their best campaign in recent years and within striking distance of a first title since 1990.
It was the first time since 1990 that no Manchester United player featured in the PFA Team of the year.
Suárez’s recognition by his peers in a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London completed his rehabilitation in English football, a year on from the Uruguayan’s 10-game suspension for biting the Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
It is quite a turnaround for a player who missed the first six fixtures of the current campaign because of that incident. In the previous season Suárez was banned and fined for using racial language towards Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
However, after being convinced to stay at the club and resist the overtures from Arsenal last summer by Brendan Rodgers, the 27-year-old forward has had a campaign to remember and received the award from Roy Hodgson, the England manager.
Suárez thus took his applause from his peers with the much-coveted individual honour. “The Premier League is full of really great players and so it is a great honour when these players recognise your work on the pitch,” he said. “I always try my best for the team and it is nice to get awards but really this is for my team-mates and the staff at Liverpool because without their help I wouldn’t have this prize.”
Hazard was named young player of the year ahead of Sturridge and Southampton’s teenage full-back Luke Shaw in second and third respectively. The 23-year-old Hazard has scored 14 goals in his second season for Chelsea and has produced some fine attacking performances under José Mourinho. The Belgian declared that he hoped to return from an injury for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atlético Madrid.
Hazard said: “It’s always good to win awards because it means you’ve had a good season, but I prefer to win things collectively and I must say thank you to all my Chelsea team-mates, the staff and the fans.”