Socceroo and Glasgow Rangers midfielder Matt McKay capped off a perfect season when he was overwhelmingly voted by his peers as Australia’s champion professional footballer of 2010/11 at the prestigious Australian Football Awards in Sydney this evening.

McKay, who won acclaim for his outstanding performances for the Socceroos at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar and in leading Brisbane Roar to the A-League Premiership/Championship double, becomes the first A-League player to win the PFA Footballer of the Year award, following Everton’s Tim Cahill (2009) and Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer (2010).

McKay received 329 votes from his fellow professionals, ahead of Socceroo and AZ Alkmaar attacking midfielder Brett Holman (194), Tim Cahill (185) and 2010/11 Johnny Warren Medallist, Marcos Flores (109).  Cahill has now placed in all 3 years of the award, having finished as runner up to Schwarzer last season.

McKay’s winning margin of 135 votes is the largest so far recorded in the award’s short history, with him comfortably winning the vote with all 3 key peer groups: A-League players, the Socceroos and Australia’s overseas based professionals.

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said McKay has now set the perfect example for all A-League players on and off the field.

“Matt’s incredible achievements in 2010/11 are the result of many years of hard work.  He has forged a long and distinguished A-League career, and now has the opportunity to test himself at one of Europe’s biggest and most successful football clubs.

“He is a great leader on and off the field, and enjoys the complete respect of all in the football industry,” Schwab added.

The PFA Harry Kewell Medal for Australia’s best young player under the age of 23 was awarded to former Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar forward Robbie Kruse who, like Matt, established himself as a genuine international in Qatar.

Kruse dominated the voting for the award with 310 votes, ahead of Young Socceroos and FC Utrecht forward Tommy Oar (165) and KostaBarbarouses (162), the New Zealand international and former Brisbane Roar forward.

Kruse, now with Fortuna Dusseldorf, has followed previous PFA Harry Kewell Medallists to Germany, with his former Victory teammate and 2010 winner Mitch Langerak with Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund and 2009 winner Nikita Rukavytsya with newly promoted Hertha Berlin.

In addition, the PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year Award was won by Matildas and Brisbane Roar defender, Elise Kellond-Knight, who received 39 votes from her fellow Matildas.  16 year old forward Caitlin Foord finished second with 25 votes, whilst goalkeeper Lydia Williams was third with 19.

21 year oldKellond-Knight, who is now with Denmark’s Fortuna Hjørring, was recognised for an outstanding FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, where she was selected to the tournament’s all star team.  She joins her fellow defender and 2010 PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year ServetUzunlar, in winning the medal that features the image of another Matildas defender, the legendary Cheryl Salisbury.

The PFA Footballer of the Year Awards 

Inaugurated in 2009, the annual PFA Footballer of the Year Awards provide the ultimate form of recognition for Australia’s most outstanding professional footballers by:

  • being open to players plying their trade at home and abroad, including in the world’s best leagues such as the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A as well as in Australia’s own A-League and W-League;
  • taking into account performances for both club and country; and
  • being exclusively voted for by the judge the professional footballer values most highly – his or her peer.

Australians eligible to play for the Socceroos and the Matildas, as well as foreign players playing in the A-League, are eligible for the awards.

The medal presented to the PFA Footballer of the Year features the images of the late Johnny Warren and Joe Marston, two founders of the modern career path for Australia’s professional footballers.