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Remembering every PFA Player of the Year from the Noughties

Arguably the greatest individual accolade in English football, the PFA Player of the Year award is the ultimate honour that can be bestowed upon Premier League players, voted as the division’s best by their fellow professionals.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson are amongst the frontrunners to win this season’s accolade alongside Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, the three having emerged as the outstanding candidates to succeed last season’s winner Virgil van Dijk.

Ahead of the naming of the 2019/20 winner, we’ve decided to look back at some of the past recipients of the honour, here are the PFA Player of the Year winners from the noughties:

Roy Keane – Manchester United (2000)

The inspirational figurehead of a dominant Manchester United side at the turn of the millennium, Roy Keane was named as the Premier League’s finest player following a record-breaking season for Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering side.

Having secured a historic treble-winning season the year prior, Keane captained the Red Devils to a second successive league title the following year, United setting new landmarks for most goals scored (97) and for the division’s biggest winning margin – finishing 18 points clear of runners-up Arsenal.

Keane made 45 appearances in all competitions and scored 12 goals as United won their sixth title in eight seasons, winning a Player of the Year double after adding the FWA Footballer of the Year award to his PFA honour.

Teddy Sheringham – Manchester United (2001)

Sheringham headed to Manchester United in search of silverware during the late nineties and it proved an inspired move, winning three consecutive league titles including a famed treble during his four season stay at Old Trafford.

The final season of his time with the club delivered a vintage campaign for the evergreen forward, however, finishing as the club’s leading goalscorer during the third of those title successes to claim the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.

Sheringham scored 21 goals in all competitions as United once again dominated domestically, wrapping up the title with five games to spare and finishing 10 points clear of nearest challengers Arsenal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy – Manchester United (2002)

Van Nistelrooy’s initial move to Manchester United had been delayed by a serious knee injury but the Dutchman finally completed a big-money move to Old Trafford in 2001, enjoying a stunning debut campaign in English football that saw the forward named as the PFA Player of the Year.

The Netherlands international scored 36 goals in all competitions – 23 of which were in the Premier League – as United finished second and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, finishing as the top scorer and leading assist provider in the latter competition.

Van Nistelrooy’s campaign was – at the time – the highest scoring debut season by a foreign player in Premier League history, with the forward named as the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in addition to being voted the league’s best by his fellow professionals.

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Thierry Henry – Arsenal (2003 & 2004)

Manchester United’s stranglehold on the award was broken by Arsenal’s Thierry Henry, the French forward winning the award in successive seasons in 2003 and 2004.

Regarded by many as the greatest player the Premier League has witnessed, the back-to-back campaigns were arguably Henry at his very best – the star turn of a superb Arsenal side under the guidance of Arsene Wenger.

His first PFA Player of the Year award came after a season in which he became the first – and so far only – player to register 20+ goals and assists, his record of 20 assists the highest ever registered in a single Premier League season.

The following campaign saw Henry inspire the Gunners to the league title with a Golden Boot-winning 30-goal haul – the best of his career – as Arsenal went the entirety of the campaign unbeaten to forever be immortalised as the ‘Invincibles’.

Henry became the first player in history to win the award in consecutive seasons, whilst he was also named as the FWA Footballer of the Year during both campaigns.

John Terry – Chelsea (2005)

Individual accolades are rarely bestowed upon defensive players, with the game’s attacking talents often taking the majority of the plaudits and acclaim.

Chelsea‘s John Terry bucked the trend during an imperious 2004/05 season, however, captaining the west London side to a drought-breaking league title during Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues’ first Premier League title was their first championship in 50 years, whilst they achieved the feat with a league low of just 15 goals conceded – the best defensive record in the division’s history.

Terry was central to their success and became just the second defender of the Premier League era – after Aston Villa’s Paul McGrath in the league’s inaugural season – to be named as the PFA Player of the Year.

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Steven Gerrard – Liverpool (2006)

The only inclusion on this list to win the award in a non title-winning team, Steven Gerrard was recognised as the division’s finest during a stellar campaign for Liverpool during the 2005/06 season.

The Liverpool captain was arguably at the peak of his powers after inspiring the Merseyside club to Champions League success the previous season, and delivered the best goalscoring season of his career to date with 23 in all competitions – 10 of which came in the Premier League.

Gerrard’s season ended with another virtuoso display to help the Reds to silverware success, scoring twice in the FA Cup final – including a stoppage-time stunner to equalise – as Rafael Benitez’s side beat West Ham on penalties in Cardiff.

The midfielder became the first player in the Premier League era to win the senior award after previously claiming the PFA Young Player of the Year award – Gerrard winning the latter honour in 2001.

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Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United (2007 & 2008)

Arriving as a raw but talented teenager from Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo would take time to develop before evolving into one of the best-attacking talents on the planet, inspiring Manchester United to three successive league titles and twice being named as the PFA Player of the Year.

The first of those seasons saw Ronaldo become the first player in history to win all four major awards in the same year, adding the FWA Footballer of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year awards to his senior PFA accolade.

The following season saw the Portuguese improve once more and enjoy the best season of his career in English football, Ronaldo hitting 42 goals in all competitions to claim a second successive Player of the Year double as United lifted both the Premier League and Champions League.

He would be named as the winner of the Ballon d’Or for the first time later that same year.

Ryan Giggs – Manchester United (2009)

For the second time in the noughties Manchester United claimed the PFA Player of the Year for a third season in succession, with veteran Ryan Giggs honoured after another title-winning season in 2008/09.

The Welshman was well into the twilight of his career but continued to play an influential role in Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering side, having been shifted into a creative central midfield position.

Despite playing the full 90 minutes on just 12 occasions throughout the season, Giggs beat off competition from teammates Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Edwin van der Sar and Ronaldo, in addition to Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard to claim the honour for the first time.

The award was a deserved recognition for an incredible career of success and longevity at the highest level, Giggs having become the first player in history to win back-to-back Young Player of the Year awards in the early nineties.

Read – Remembering every 90’s BBC Goal of the Season winner

Read Also – Ranking every member of the Champions League ‘100’ club

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