Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was named the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, punctuating a remarkable season that has already seen him set a number of records in his first year at the club.
Salah held off Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, considered his top challenger, and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane to claim the honour at the 45th PFA Awards at Grosvenor House in central London on Sunday evening, which is given by Premier League players.
“It’s a big honour. I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it,” Salah said at the ceremony on Sunday evening.
Asked what it meant to become the first Egyptian to win the award, he said: “Hopefully I’m not the last one! I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”
Also among the finalists were three other City players — David Silva and Leroy Sane — as well as Manchester United’s David De Gea.
Salah scored his 31st league goal in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, equalling Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer for the most Premier League goals scored in a 38-game season.
The forward has three Premier League games remaining and could match Andy Cole’s record of 34 goals in a 42-game season set in 1993-94.
“You’re comparing your name with some great names,” he said, on the prospect of breaking the record. “To break the Premier League record is something huge in England and all over in the world.
“There are still three games to go. I want to break this record and also break the one for [42-game season]. Let’s see what will happen.”
Salah, who moved from Roma in July, became the first player to be named the Premier League Player of the Month three times in one season.
With 41 goals in all competitions this season, he became the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1986-87 to reach the 40-goal mark.
De Bruyne, considered the most consistent player for the Premier League champions, acknowledged last week that Salah was likely to win the award.
Salah is the seventh Premier League player to win the award and the first to win it since Suarez in 2013-14. Rush also won it, as did Steven Gerrard, John Barnes, Kenny Dalglish and Terry McDermott.
Salah is a shoo-in for Liverpool’s end-of-season accolades and the man nicknamed “The Egyptian King” looks set to reign at Anfield for a long time to come.
Chelsea Ladies forward Fran Kirby won the women’s Player of the Year award, while Lauren Hemp of Bristol City secured the young player prize.
The PFA’s Merit award went posthumously to Cyrille Regis, the former West Brom forward who died aged 59 in January.
The award was recognition of Regis’ pioneering role in changing attitudes towards black footballers in England.
The team of the season was also announced. It consisted of Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, defenders Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City, Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, the Man City midfield duo of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, Tottenham pair Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, Salah and City’s Sergio Aguero.