Raheem Sterling has been named the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year for 2019.
The Manchester City star has enjoyed a stunning 2018-19 season for club and country, scoring 17 goals and providing 10 assists in the club’s relentless battle against Liverpool to retain the Premier League title.
City have already lifted back-to-back EFL Cups and Sterling was on hand to score the decisive penalty in February’s shoot-out triumph over Chelsea at Wembley, where he returned the following month to net a hat-trick in England’s 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying demolition of the Czech Republic.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk beat Sterling to the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year prize on Sunday, with the 24-year-old instead collecting the organisation’s young player award.
But the FWA cited the wider context of Sterling taking a lead in his sport’s fight against racism and discrimination over recent months as an additional factor in helping him to garner 62 per cent of member votes.
“Raheem Sterling is a player of style and a man of substance,” said FWA chair Carrie Brown after Nikita Parris made it a Manchester City double by scooping the women’s award on the back of 19 goals and seven assists in the Women’s Super League this season.
“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.”