Manchester City defender Ruben Dias has won the Football Writers’ Association men’s footballer of the year award in just his first season in England.
The Portugal international beat Tottenham striker Harry Kane and City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne to claim the prize, which is voted for by members of the FWA.
Dias has excelled at the back, largely in partnership with John Stones, to help Pep Guardiola’s side win their third Premier League title in four years, having only joined the club from Benfica at the end of September.
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Overall, City players made up more than 50% of the votes cast, with nine in total put forward.
“It’s a huge privilege. I’m very, very happy (but) I could not have done it without the success of the team,” Dias told City’s website.
“Everyone in the team deserves this award. Only by that was I – as a defender – able to be here to receive this prize.
It means something special because normally, the ones who finish are the ones getting the spotlight but me receiving this prize is a major example of our team and the way we work – the way we build our game.
“It reflects all the togetherness we have on the pitch, the spirit in the team and how we perform.
“With these players, for me to be receiving this award, it shows how we play like a family.”
FWA chair Carrie Brown said: “Ruben Dias is our Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for his leadership on and off the pitch as much as for the infectious joy he derives from executing the art of defending to perfection.
I wonder if it is quite poignant that, in a time when so many find their backs against the wall, there is heart to be taken from the joy Dias exudes in standing firm and quelling the storm.
“Perhaps, in this of all seasons, Dias is the leader we all need.”
Dias paid tribute to everyone at the club for the award, from team-mates to the kitmen, and said he has felt at home since joining.
“The most important thing is to have players who think like you and have the same mentality, knowing how important the team is and knowing: ‘If you fail, I will be there for you.’
“You see it a lot in our team. if someone makes a mistake, another will be there to save you, to have your back. That mentality is definitely one of the things that makes it work so well.
If our Premier League victory and this award means something to me, I want to give a big part of that something to them. I would like to dedicate it to them and my family as well, who are always with me.
City will lift the Premier League trophy after their Sunday’s game with Everton, ahead of facing Chelsea in the Champions League final as they attempt to claim a treble.
Chelsea forward Fran Kirby was named the FWA’s women’s footballer of the year earlier this month.
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