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May 16, 2013

Van Persie claims Man Utd fans' award

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has scooped the club's Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, voted for by Red Devils fans worldwide.

• Fergie: Title decided my future
• Rio retires from England duty
• Blog: How to change a manager

Van Persie, who leads the Premier League scoring charts with 25 goals from a fruitful debut season at Old Trafford, topped the poll with 45.1% of the vote, ahead of Michael Carrick (29%) in second place and David De Gea (11.5%) third.

The prolific Dutchman was a key figure as United wrested the title from neighbours Manchester City, delivering Sir Alex Ferguson his 13th championship in his final season with the club.

And Van Persie, whose memorable volley against Aston Villa last month was selected as United's Goal of the Season, admitted he had achieved more than he had hoped in his first campaign.

"I have to be fair - it's beyond expectations," he said at Wednesday's awards gala at Old Trafford. "It made such an impact on me from day one, being involved with all the guys. The way they welcomed me made such an impact and, of course, to be able to work with Sir Alex and Mike [Phelan] and all the staff is more than a pleasure.

"I have to say that winning a trophy is fantastic. It's great but the road to the whole trophy is maybe even nicer. Being together every day and working on details, getting better step-by-step, beating opponents and then the best feeling of all that is the result and the trophy.

"This whole year has been incredible. I have to thank all the boys, the staff and the fans, who since day one, have been unbelievable. It's been an honour. It's made such a big impact on me and I'm still thrilled about what's happened in the last 10 months or so. Hopefully, we can do even better, crack on and win even more trophies."

The Champions League is one trophy that Van Persie and United will be hoping to get their hands on under new boss David Moyes, with the former Arsenal star insisting this season's heartbreaking last-16 defeat to Real Madrid would be used as motivation in the future.

"I would love to [win the Champions League]," he said. "I think we showed we can compete with the best. If you look at the game against Real [Madrid], for example, everything was organised perfectly. Our game-plan was working. We were winning so it was a bit harsh how we lost that game but it's part of football as well.

"If you want to be a winner, first you have to deal with disappointments. If you look at the whole club, it's full of winners. Everyone knows how to win and everyone works hard to win and I love that."

Van Persie was keen to pay tribute to Ferguson, who is stepping aside at the end of the season after 26-and-a-half years in the Old Trafford hotseat.

"It's only been a year I've worked with this great manager and great man," Van Persie said. "But, honestly, I must say it's been a real honour and it's had such a big impact. Also in the way he is as a person, we get to know each other.

"Of course, I see him every day and the way he looks after his boys is like we're his own kids. He's always protecting us and looking after us. The meetings he does are incredible. It's been a joy and I'm proud of that."

Michael Carrick took home the Players' Player of the Year award, with the England midfielder's team-mates recognising the impact he has made in United's engine room this season.

"Obviously this means an awful lot," Carrick said. "I work with the lads every day and train every day. We've got an unbelievable team spirit and players from all over the world come and fit in and make a real effort to fit in. For them to give me the vote for this means an awful lot. It really is special for me."

On the club's Premier League title triumph, he added: "We had to win it. Last year was hard to take for everyone, especially with it going to that lot over the road. It was tough and we always wanted to bounce back. I'm proud of the boys but it all comes from the manager.

"You don't just play for this club – you live for this club once you're here. The manager drives home the work ethic and always tells us don't be afraid to work hard and enjoy yourself. That's what we do."

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