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Women's Football Awards: Alessia Russo, Keira Walsh and Lauren James among inaugural winners

Manchester United forward Alessia Russo named player of the year; midfielder Keira Walsh wins international player of the year award; Chelsea' Lauren James and Liverpool's Missy Bo Kearns win young player of the year; Watch the final day WSL title decider on Sky Sports

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Manchester United forward Alessia Russo was named player of the year at the inaugural Women's Football Awards.

England trio Alessia Russo, Keira Walsh and Lauren James were among the winners as the inaugural Women's Football Awards took place in London on Thursday.

Manchester United forward Russo was named player of the year, while midfielder Walsh, her fellow Euro 2022 winner who joined Barcelona from Manchester City last summer for a world-record fee, took the international player of the year award.

Chelsea forward James and Liverpool midfielder Missy Bo Kearns, both 21, were winners in the young player of the year category.

Barcelona's Keira Walsh, left, and Roma's Alves da Silva Andressa battle for the ball during the women's Champions League soccer match between Roma and Barcelona at Olimpic Stadium, Rome, Italy, Tuesday March 21, 2023. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)
Image: Barcelona's Keira Walsh, left, won the international player of the year prize

There were also gongs for two members of the England men's team, with captain Harry Kane and Declan Rice receiving ally awards, and former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright was named women's football champion of the year.

The ceremony, hosted by Eni Aluko and Jamie Carragher, followed more than 20,000 public votes being cast and ratification by a judging panel led by United forward Nikita Parris, Real Madrid midfielder Caroline Weir and Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen.

United, who this season have secured their highest Women's Super League points haul and Champions League qualification for the first time, as well as making their Women's FA Cup final debut, were named best club of the year.

Other individuals recognised included former Everton and Liverpool player Fern Whelan, the first women's football equality, diversity and inclusion executive for the Professional Footballers' Association, receiving the Off The Pitch award.

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Karen Carney, who retired in 2019 with 144 England caps, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, and there was a special recognition award given to Carol Thomas, the captain of the Lionesses team that were runners-up at the first women's European Championship in 1984.

Aluko, another former player to have won more than 100 England caps, said: "[Thursday] was a highlight of my career. This was a first for women's football and a landmark moment for the game. I am so proud to be part of this event.

"For the first time, women's football has got the recognition it deserved. It is even more special because the public nominated and voted for these awards.

"To see so many amazing footballers, people, organisations and brands recognised for advancing and improving the game we love was phenomenal."

Chelsea will win a fourth consecutive Barclays Women's Super League title, and their seventh in nine seasons, with a victory over Reading in the final round of the season on Saturday. Watch the game live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1.30pm and Main Event from 2.30pm

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