Eden Hazard voted player of year by fellow pros in England
LONDON (AP) — Eden Hazard’s breathtaking individual displays for Chelsea were honored by his fellow professionals in English football on Sunday when he picked up the player of the year award.
The 24-year-old Belgium winger upgraded the young player title he received last year from the Professional Footballers’ Association, but still came second in that vote as the trophy passed to 21-year-old striker Harry Kane after remarkable season for Tottenham.
Hazard’s latest accolade adds to the French player of the year titles he won while at Lille in 2011 and 2012 when he joined Chelsea for more than $40 million.
Hazard was honored hours after a 0-0 draw at Arsenal pushed him closer to winning the Premier League for the first time with Chelsea. With 18 goals in all competitions this season, Hazard has already lifted the League Cup and helped Chelsea to establish a 10-point lead in the title race.
“I’m very happy. One day I want to be the best and what I did this season is play very well, Chelsea played very well,” Hazard said at the ceremony in London. “I don’t know if I deserve to win but it is good for me. It is good, it is better to be voted by the players — they know everything about football.”
Hazard’s most recent goal clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United last weekend to cement Chelsea’s dominance in the league.
“I have played a good season, I have been there in the big games and I scored a lot of important goals, this is why I’m better this season,” Hazard said.
Hazard was also one of six Chelsea players named in the PFA Premier League team of the year along with defenders John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, midfielder Nemanja Matic and striker Diego Costa.
The other striker voted into that team was Kane, who has enjoyed a spectacular rise in the last six months and was runner-up for the main player award behind Hazard.
The Tottenham academy graduate, who has spent time on loan at lower-league clubs, has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season after only getting a regular starting slot in November.
Kane struck a winner from the bench at Aston Villa in November and was then given a run of games by coach Mauricio Pochettino as fellow strikers Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor failed to deliver goals.
In a remarkable few months, Kane has also been called up by England for the first time and scored after 79 seconds on the pitch in his debut against Lithuania last month.
“I have got to keep working hard, but to be recognized by your fellow players is something special and it is a night I won’t forget,” Kane said.
With Tottenham sixth in the standings, Kane is unlikely to get a shot at the Champions League next season but he did play in the League Cup final last month when Chelsea won.
Still it has been a season Kane describes as “unreal.”
“I have always believed in my ability and have been waiting for a chance to express myself,” he said. “I didn’t think it would go as quickly as it has done but I have managed to ride the wave and the season has got better and better.”
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris