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Top ten PFA winners

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Skysports.com counts down ten previous winners of the PFA Player of the Year following the announcement of this year's nominees

The nominees have been announced for this year's PFA Player of the Year award and there will be a new name on the roll of honour.

Looking at some of the players not to have even made the shortlist shows just how difficult it is to pick up such a prestigious prize, and many Premier League greats never manage to get their hands on the trophy.

There have been 33 winners since the inaugural ceremony in 1974 and each one deserves considerable recognition, but here skysports.com picks out ten of the most memorable.

Norman Hunter -1974

The first recipient of the award, Leeds legend Hunter inspired the Yorkshire club to title glory in 1973/4 with a string of commanding performances. Hunter stood out in a team full of hard men as the most formidable individual, and he was at his bludgeoning best in the year the PFA introduced the Players' Player of the Year gong. Tough in the tackle but with a great awareness of the game and an ability to bring the ball out of defence with remarkable composure, 'bite yer legs' Hunter was at the peak of his powers as an experienced centre-back in the early 1970s.

Andy Gray - 1977

Gray gets into our top ten after becoming the first man, in 1976/7, to claim both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards in the same year. The Aston Villa striker was just 21 at the time but had settled quickly into English football after moving down from Dundee United the previous season. Defenders could not live with his sharpness in the box and a natural predatory instinct saw him finish the season as the leading scorer with 29 league goals.

Ian Rush - 1984

Liverpool were very much the dominant force in the early 1980s and Rush was at the forefront of their success. The Welsh striker scored 32 goals to earn the European Golden Shoe and take the Reds to league and League Cup success, while they were also European Cup winners. Rush would later decide to embark on a new challenge in Italy with Juventus, before returning to Anfield for a second prolific spell.

Mark Hughes - 1989 and 1991

The first of only four players to win the award twice, Hughes flourished on his return to Manchester United after spells abroad with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He was voted the star man by his peers for 1988/89 following a superb campaign, and lost none of his appetite for the game as he took the prize again two years later. Netting 21 goals in all competitions and 13 in the league, Hughes' deadly finishing was impossible to overlook.

Eric Cantona - 1994

The first player from outside the British Isles to be recognised as the best performer in the English game, Flamboyant Frenchman Cantona provided moments of both genius and controversy after moving from Leeds to Manchester United. Despite being sent off on three occasions in 1993/4, he was the driving force behind a domestic Double for the Red Devils as he allied a razor-sharp cutting edge to masses of Gallic flair.

Alan Shearer - 1995 and 1997

Shearer may not have been able to match Cantona in terms of style but he surpassed the Frenchman's PFA success by picking up the award twice. What is even more impressive is that Shearer managed it with two different clubs, having first guided Blackburn to the Premier League title in 1995 with a staggering 34 goals. He joined hometown club Newcastle a year later after Euro 96 and, despite this time missing out on top spot in the league, scooped the coveted individual accolade once more after finishing as top scorer for a third straight season.

Thierry Henry - 2003 and 2004

Henry became the first player to win two consecutive PFA awards when his achievements were recognised in the spring of 2004. Arsenal's 'Invincibles' went through the Premier League season unbeaten with Henry playing a starring role and scoring 39 goals. 12 months earlier Henry had won the prize for the first time following an extraordinary individual campaign which had yielded 32 goals on top of 23 assists.

Cristiano Ronaldo - 2007 and 2008

The fourth and final player in our list to have picked up the award on more than one occasion, Ronaldo appeared head and shoulders above his contemporaries during the latter stages of his time in the Premier League. He had always been regarded as a special talent but it was not clear whether he would fulfil this undoubted potential until 2006/7, when he helped Manchester United win the title and in the process emulated Andy Gray's feat of winning both the Players' Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards. Ronaldo went from strength to strength the following year, breaking goalscoring records despite playing as a winger. He could have won several more PFA awards if he had decided not to leave for Real Madrid in 2009.

Ryan Giggs - 2009

To have a career as long as Giggs' at the highest level is truly inspiring, but the Welshman also seems to be getting better with age. There was some controversy about him landing the PFA prize in 2009 after starting just 12 league games before the trophy was awarded, but his contributions were immense and his experience vital. It is hard to argue that Giggs, who has scored in every Premier League season since its inception, is not one of the top ten players to have graced the English game since 1974 and the honour was undoubtedly deserved.

Wayne Rooney - 2010

Man of the moment Rooney may not have enjoyed the finest 12 months in his career, but in 2009/10 his performances for Manchester United were nothing short of exceptional. Somebody needed to step up and fill the void following Ronaldo's departure and that man was Rooney, who discovered the consistency of form he had always craved. While it would be wrong to say he single-handedly helped the Red Devils challenge for the title, it is fair to say they would not have come close without him.

Comments (3)

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Ananwa Michael says...

About 4 Manchester United are among the top 10 PFA award winner list. This means that Manchester United is a great club in the World, any prayer that has the opportunity to pray for Manchester United should do so for there is enough chance for their prayer to be a world star.

Posted 20:40 8th April 2011

Zaf Essa says...

Where is Dennis Bergkamp 1998, He had a Better season than most of them players by far. He was out of this planet that season. He had goal of the season, best goal of august he came 3rd 2nd and 1st. few player of the month awards. and obviously player of the year.

Posted 13:59 8th April 2011

Derek Day says...

We even dominate in the individual awards

Posted 13:56 8th April 2011

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