Luis Suarez has been voted by England’s Football Writers’ Association as the 2014 Footballer of the Year.
Suarez’s 30 goals have helped Liverpool remain outside favourites for their first English championship title in 24 years.
Having been named last week as Player of the Year by his peers in England’s Professional Footballers’ Association, Suarez has now won two individual honours since Liverpool’s demoralising 0-2 loss to Chelsea last Sunday — a loss that could potentially cost the Merseyside club a title they were leading favourites to win only two weeks ago.
The 27-year-old Uruguay international topped a poll of more than 300 journalists ahead of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard; and he will receive the FWA award, which has been running since 1948, at a gala dinner at London’s Lancaster Hotel on May 15, 2014.
“Those members who have been fortunate enough to be working at a match involving Luis Suarez have witnessed an astonishing talent first-hand,” FWA Chairman, Andy Dunn of the Sunday Mirror, said.
“Tireless endeavour allied to extraordinary imagination makes an irresistible combination. Add ingenious, impudent finishing and you have a footballer who truly quickens the pulse.
“Luis is a remarkably gifted addition to the long and distinguished list of winners of our award.”
Charles Buchan, one of the founders of the FWA, said the award should be presented “to the professional player who, by precept and example, is considered by a ballot of members to be the footballer of the year.”
And there will be those who argue that, for all his goals, Suarez has failed to live up to the standards of Buchan’s words, given he started the season completing a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic — a punishment which itself came a year after he received an eight-game suspension for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Nevertheless, Suarez gained 52 per cent of a ballot in which votes were cast for 10 players in all, with Gerrard the runner-up and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, a key figure in Manchester City’s Premier League title-charge, in third place.
Suarez won just two votes in last year’s poll.
“Our voting opened 12 hours after the biting incident at Anfield, so I think that was taken into account,” Dunn told Sky Sports.
“I must stress the importance in this award that the football writers are asked to base their decision on obviously the footballing contribution throughout the season, but also to take into account the player’s behaviour — the original citation for the FWA award back in 1947/48 mentioned ‘precept and example’, so that is taken into account.
“While no-one would say Suarez is whiter than white, you would have to say his behaviour all throughout the season has been very good; and I think the football writers have taken that into account, an element of redemption if you like, and allied with those 30 goals, and the sensational talent he has displayed all season, that made him a very, very popular choice.”
His boss, Brendan Rodgers, cannot disagree. He was quick in congratulating his star forward.
“He has been outstanding in all my time here and obviously, in particular, this season,” he said.
“So it was very well-deserved, and I know he really respected it, coming from the players in this country. I know he’s happy.
“To know that he’s happy is important, like it is with all of our players. It’s very important that we have players here that are content, happy and focused on Liverpool.”
Liverpool face Crystal Palace this evening at Selhurst Park, knowing that anything other than a win may effectively hand Manchester City the league title. The Reds will be looking towards their front two of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to see them through a tough visit against Tony Pulis’ Eagles.