Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, who missed out on the PFA Player of the Year award to Virgil van Dijk, has been named Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for 2019.
The England international has seen his efforts across a campaign which has delivered 29 goals for club and country recognised with a prestigious prize.
At the PFA gala on Sunday, Sterling walked away with the Young Player of the Year award but was pipped to the top gong by Liverpool defender Van Dijk.
Those tables have been turned by the FWA, with a 24-year-old star at the Etihad Stadium considered to have been the brightest in the Premier League this season.
Sterling collected 62 per cent of the poll, finishing 100 votes clear of Van Dijk and pushing City team-mate Sergio Aguero into third.
FWA Chair Carrie Brown said in a statement on the association’s official website: “Raheem Sterling is a player of style and a man of substance.
“More than 70 years ago Charles Buchan, one of the founding fathers of the Footballer Writers’ Association, suggested there be an award presented to the player who by ‘precept and example’ is considered the Footballer of the Year.
“Raheem Sterling is an exemplar of the talent and values our founding fathers sought to reward when they established the FWA in 1947.
“To have been voted the 2019 Footballer of the Year by our members, and with such an overwhelming majority, clearly acknowledges the contribution from a player over one season but it also recognises the huge impact of Raheem’s courage to challenge preconceptions and fight racism, which will leave a legacy not just for future generations in football but society as a whole.
“Eyes have been opened, voices found, we are listening and will be at the forefront of the continued drive for equality.
“On the pitch, Raheem has evolved into one of the most dangerous forwards in the world. A player long admired for his tactical intelligence, link-up play and quick feet has now added a devastating finish to his game.
“The Manchester City forward’s Champions League opener against Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium drew comparisons with Lionel Messi’s goal against Manchester United.
“Are we approaching a time where Barcelona’s maestro will be forced to cast a watchful glance over his dropped shoulder at the rising star of Sterling?
“Raheem didn’t set out to be a leader, but he is setting examples in society and in the game which the world is following with interest.
“I look forward to presenting him with the Sir Stanley Matthews Trophy on May 9.”
In a notable double for Manchester City and England, Nikita Parris has been named FWA’s Women’s Footballer of the Year.