Every season there are so many awards handed out to players, we can sometimes lose track of whether they actually have any meaning or weight. Nevertheless, there are two awards which the players themselves value above all others, voted for by fellow and presented by the Professional Footballers’ Association. While fan and media recognition is good, nothing beats the respect of peers in the game.
The PFA Player Awards
Since the 1973-74 season in English football, the Professional Footballers’ Association has presented its own awards. These are the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year, exclusively voted for by members of the professional players’ union. For this reason, it’s also fair to say these awards carry the greatest prestige in the English game, regarded as the biggest honour a player can receive.
Interestingly, during an era in which sports betting has increasingly gained popularity, these two awards always tend to feature amongst the available markets at leading bookmakers, while other awards are often ignored. However, if we look at the best online betting sites by sport, then focus on football and the respective PFA awards, odds can vary wildly from one site to the next.
For this reason, it always makes good sense to read plenty of reviews, compare bookies and see what they offer. To highlight this point and before revealing some of the PFA awards favourites this season, there’s a huge variance in odds amongst all the most recognised bookmakers this year. Before backing anyone, don’t forget to ensure you’re getting the best odds. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the two top men’s awards.
PFA Players’ Player of the Year
Every spring, members of the PFA are asked to vote for two players, then a shortlist of the leading contenders is published in April. During the same month, a gala ceremony is held in London when the winners are announced. In 2005 when John Terry became the first Chelsea player to receive the award, he considered it “the ultimate accolade to be voted for by your fellow professionals,” cherishing the honour of being recognised by his peers.
Only three Premier League players have won back-to-back PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards:— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 6, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo 🏆🏆
Thierry Henry 🏆🏆
Kevin De Bruyne 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/xtekpFVbHD
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne won the last to editions in 2019-20 and 2020-21, becoming one just six players to claim the award twice, and one of only three players in PFA history to win the award in two consecutive seasons. The two back-to-back winners were Thierry Henry in 2002-03 and 2003-04, then Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Looking at the current odds with practically every online bookie, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is leading the betting by a wide margin, strongly tipped to win the 2021-22 PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. If he does, it would be the second time the Egyptian star has claimed the award, having previously topped the player votes in 2017-18.
PFA Young Player of the Year
Inaugurated in 1973-74 season like the main award, the age limits have varied over the years and that led to some criticism, given that players could be aged up to 23 at the start of any season. That meant some nominees were aged 24 by the end of a campaign, which was hardly considered “young” by media critics. Since 2021, only players aged 21 or under at the start of a season can be considered for the award.
While the main award has always been won by players from the top division of English football, the PFA Young Player of the Year award went to Ryan Sessagnon of Fulham in 2018, making him the first and only recipient outside of the topflight. Back-to-back winners include Ryan Giggs and Robbie Fowler, Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli, while they could be joined 2020-21 winner Phil Foden of Manchester City.
Foden is widely tipped as the 2021-22 favourite for the PFA Award Young Player of the Year, although the odds would suggest there’s a strong list of challengers. On loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea this season, midfielder Conor Gallagher is regarded as a potential candidate, along with Chelsea right-back Reece James, who has enjoyed a superb season.
Dual Award Winners
To conclude, here’s a little bit of extra trivia. How many players have won both awards in the same season? Well, the answer to that question is just three players. Andy Gray was the first in 1976-77 with Aston Villa, followed by a gap of 30 years, until Cristiano Ronaldo became the second in 2006-07 at Manchester United. The third and last recipient of both awards in the same season was Gareth Bale, when he took both awards in 2012-13 with Tottenham.