Liverpool legend Craig Johnston was this evening honoured by Australia’s elite professional footballers when he became only the third player to receive the prestigious PFA Alex Tobin OAM Medal at an awards ceremony hosted by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) with the support of LUCRF Super.

Players to honour Johnston on the night included current and former Socceroos John Aloisi, Tim Cahill, Simon Colosimo, Ante Covic, Harry Kewell, Craig Moore, Paul Okon and Mark Schwarzer.  All spoke of Johnston’s inspirational example and how that not only motivated them to become professional footballers but educated them of the tough realities of the profession.

Johnston said he was deeply honoured to be recognised by today’s players.

“I usually say thanks but no thanks to awards.  But this is different.  It’s from fellow players who know how hard it is to make it in this game and that’s why I am really happy to accept the honour.”

“Alex is the most capped Socceroo and a true gentleman.  It would be unthinkable not to accept an award named in his honour.  So thank you Alex.  Thank you players.”

Click here to view footage from the evening.

Inaugurated in 2008, the PFA Alex Tobin OAM Medal is awarded annually to a current or former player who has demonstrated 4 attributes encapsulated by Tobin, a former long serving PFA President:

  • Leadership
  • Achievement as a player
  • Commitment to one’s fellow professionals, and
  • Service and dedication to the game

The initial recipients of the PFA Tobin Medal in 2008 were Joe Marston, whose successful career in the English First Division in the 1950’s with Preston North End pioneered the international career path, and the late Johnny Warren, who fought so hard and effectively for the reform of Australian football at home.

Johnston was honoured for his remarkable career with Middlesbrough and Liverpool in which he overcame adversity, injury and rejection to forge a 271 game career in the English First Division between 1977 and 1988 before retiring at the remarkably young age of 27.  In so doing, he won 9 major titles with the Reds, including 5 First Division Championships, 2 Football League Cups, the FA Cup and the European Cup.  Most famously, he scored the winning goal in the 1986 FA Cup Final when Liverpool became only the third club in the 20th Century to win England’s League/Cup double.

“Through his single minded determination and ability to succeed at the game’s highest level, Craig Johnston was the catalyst that changed the thinking of Australia’s best young players,” PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said this evening.  “For them, there was no reason why an Australian could not play at the game’s greatest heights.”

“597 ambitious young Australian footballers have since followed in Craig’s footsteps and secured overseas contracts.  Whilst none have matched his record of team success, many have gone on to set a level of on-field achievement that provided the foundation for the game to also achieve off the field.”

“On this fact alone, it is arguable that no single individual has had as much influence on football in Australia as Craig Johnston,” Schwab added.