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From Stanley Matthews to Mohamed Salah: Know winners of FWA Footballer of the Year award

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The FWA Footballer of the Year, or Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year, is awarded annually to the best player in a season in English football.

The FWA Footballer of the Year award is the brainchild of Charles Buchan, a former professional footballer-turned-publisher and writer of Football Monthly and a founding father of the Football Writers’ Association.

In 1947, Buchan suggested an award should be given "to the professional player who by precept and example is considered by a ballot of members to be the footballer of the year."

The FWA Footballer of the Year winner is selected by a vote amongst the members of the Football Writers' Association (FWA), which comprises around 400 football journalists based throughout England.

There have been 75 editions of the FWA Footballer of the Year award ceremony, with 66 different winners. Only once, in 1969, was the award shared by two players.

Who were the first FWA Footballer of the Year award winners?

Sir Stanley Matthews won the inaugural FWA Footballer of the Year award in 1948. The legendary English winger was 48 years old when he received the award, on the day of the 1948 FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Blackpool.

The FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year award started in the 2017-18 season, with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby the first recipient. At the time of receiving the award, Kirby had scored 22 goals in all competitions and helped the Blues reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. She ended up winning the Women’s Super League and the FA Cup at the end of the campaign.

Who has won the most FWA Footballer of the Year awards?

Thierry Henry has won the FWA Footballer of the Year award three times, the most for any player in history.

The Arsenal icon was first named the FWA Footballer of the Year in the 2002-03 season, for his 32 goals and 28 assists in 55 matches across all competitions. For his part in the Gunners’ ‘Invincibles’ campaign in the 2003-04 Premier League, Henry was once again named as the FWA Footballer of the Year and became the first player in history to win the award in successive seasons.

Thierry Henry won his third and final FWA Footballer of the Year award in the 2005-06 season.

Meanwhile, Fran Kirby has won the most FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year awards with two to her name. After winning the inaugural trophy in 2017-18, the Chelsea star claimed the award in the 2020-21 season.

FWA Footballer of the Year winners

1948 – Stanley Matthews (Blackpool)

1949 – Johnny Carey (Manchester United)

1950 – Joe Mercer (Arsenal)

1951 – Harry Johnston (Blackpool)

1952 – Billy Wright (Wolves)

1953 – Nat Lofthouse (Bolton)

1954 – Tom Finney (Preston)

1955 – Don Revie (Manchester City)

1956 – Bert Trautmann (Manchester City)

1957 – Tom Finney (Preston) (2)

1958 – Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur)

1959 – Syd Owen (Luton)

1960 – Bill Slater (Wolves)

1961 – Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur) (2)

1962 – Jimmy Adamson (Burnley)

1963 – Stanley Matthews (Stoke City) (2)

1964 – Bobby Moore (West Ham)

1965 – Bobby Collins (Leeds)

1966 – Bobby Charlton (Manchester United)

1967 – Jack Charlton (Leeds)

1968 – George Best (Manchester United)

1969 – Dave Mackay (Derby) and Tony Book (Manchester City)

1970 – Billy Bremner (Leeds)

1971 – Frank McLintock (Arsenal)

1972 – Gordon Banks (Stoke City)

1973 – Pat Jennings (Tottenham Hotspur)

1974 – Ian Callaghan (Liverpool)

1975 – Alan Mullery (Fulham)

1976 – Kevin Keegan (Liverpool)

1977 – Emlyn Hughes (Liverpool)

1978 – Kenny Burns (Nottingham Forest)

1979 – Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)

1980 – Terry McDermott (Liverpool)

1981 – Frans Thijssen (Ipswich Town)

1982 – Steve Perryman (Tottenham Hotspur)

1983 – Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool) (2)

1984 – Ian Rush (Liverpool)

1985 – Neville Southall (Everton)

1986 – Gary Lineker (Everton)

1987 – Clive Allen (Tottenham Hotspur)

1988 – John Barnes (Liverpool)

1989 – Steve Nicol (Liverpool)

1990 – John Barnes (Liverpool) (2)

1991 – Gordon Strachan (Leeds)

1992 – Gary Lineker (Tottenham Hotspur) (2)

1993 – Chris Waddle (Sheffield Wednesday)

1994 – Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers)

1995 – Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham Hotspur)

1996 – Eric Cantona (Manchester United)

1997 – Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea)

1998 – Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)

1999 – David Ginola (Tottenham Hotspur)

2000 – Roy Keane (Manchester United)

2001 – Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)

2002 – Robert Pires (Arsenal)

2003 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

2004 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal) (2)

2005 – Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

2006 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal) (3)

2007 – Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) (2)

2009 – Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

2010 – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

2011 – Scott Parker (West Ham)

2012 – Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

2013 – Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

2014 – Luis Suárez (Liverpool)

2015 – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

2016 – Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

2017 – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)

2018 – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

2019 – Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

2020 – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

2021 – Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

2022 – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) (2)

FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year winners

2018 - Fran Kirby (Chelsea)

2019 - Nikita Parris (Manchester City)

2020 - Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)

2021 - Fran Kirby (Chelsea) (2)

2022 - Sam Kerr (Chelsea)

Author: William Paul

Featured photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

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