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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Blues trio head PFA Player of the Year nominees

Premiership leaders Chelsea dominate the nominations for the 2006 Professional Footballers' Association Footballer of the Year Award.

The PFA's 33rd annual awards dinner, to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, will take place on Sunday, April 23, with the six nominees in each of the two categories now confirmed.

Chelsea trio John Terry - last year's winner - Frank Lampard and Joe Cole all make the shortlist for the main accolade. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, Arsenal captain Thierry Henry - winner in 2003 & 2004 - and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney are also nominated.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor is not surprised to see Terry, 25, again among the contenders for player of the year.

'He has been the cornerstone, not just of the Chelsea defence, but the whole foundations on which their success over the last couple of years has been built,' said Taylor.

'John is the one person you would want alongside you in the trenches because he is strong, dependable, reliable and fearless.

'If things are not going well he will come up front and get a goal for you at a corner or free-kick - and from that point of view he was a worthy winner of Players' Player of the Year award last year.

'A rock at the back for Chelsea, he will be the same for England at the World Cup, I am sure.'

England striker Rooney, still only 20, picked up the 2005 Young Player of the Year award, and features again in that category.

'Wayne is special,' Taylor added.

'His development under Sir Alex Ferguson has been great to see and he has been such a key part of a United side which has won the Carling Cup and, of late, has mounted a belated challenge to Chelsea in the race for the Premiership title.

'For a young man he has got such strength and it is all allied to great skill and perception.

'He is starting to show a lot more maturity too, which I am really pleased about.

'When you think he might be wound up by opponents, he has learned to count to 10 and control that side of his temperament while maintaining his total commitment.

'All of which bodes really well for Manchester United, and particularly for England.

'If he can stay clear of injury and he continues to develop the way he has, there is no end to what he can achieve.

'We must all remember though, he is still a young man and we should not have too high expectations of him because he has got a long way to go - but he will get there if he is looked after properly.'

Rooney's Old Trafford team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, 21, also makes the shortlist, along with Darren Bent of Charlton.

The England striker, 22, has bagged 20 goals for the Addicks this season, and is hopeful of making the World Cup squad.

West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand, 21, Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal, 18, and Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, who turns 19 later this week, also feature.

• 2006 PFA Player of the Year contenders

Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea).

• 2006 PFA Young Player of the Year contenders

Darren Bent (Charlton), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Anton Ferdinand (West Ham), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)