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Gerrard picks up Footballer Writers' POTY award

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been voted England's Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association (FWA).

The England midfielder topped the poll of journalists ahead of Manchester United duo Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney to win the prestigious accolade, which has been running since 1948.

The 28-year-old Anfield hero has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season, the best tally of his career, and is leading Liverpool's continuing challenge to Premier League leaders Manchester United as the Reds bid to land their first league title for 19 years.

The newly crowned footballer of the year said: "I'm delighted but I'm a little bit surprised. When you look at the quality of the players there are in this league, it's a great privilege to win this kind of award."

Reds manager Rafael Benitez had nothing but praise for his skipper, who is the first Liverpool player to win the award since John Barnes in 1990, and said it was just reward for all Gerrard has achieved this season.

"I'm really pleased for Steven,'' Benitez told the club's website. "It is fantastic for him because he was competing with a lot of good players.

"For him to be named player of the year is massive credit to him and shows just how much he has achieved.''

Gerrard will receive the award at the FWA's gala dinner in London on May 29. The Huyton-born player follows in the illustrious footsteps of Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, George Best and more recently Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Steve Bates, chairman of the FWA, said: "Steven's performances this season have been of the highest quality. His drive and desire have underpinned Liverpool's Premier League title challenge and ensured a tight finish to the season.

"Steven is clearly in his prime and quite rightly rated one of the finest midfield players of his generation, and the FWA are delighted to honour his contribution to club and country."

Second-placed Giggs was named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year in April.

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