Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan and Perth Glory’s forward Chris Ikonomidis have been unveiled as the Professional Footballers Australia’s (the PFA’s) major award winners for their 2018/19 campaigns.

Ahead of the Socceroos FIFA World Qualifier against Nepal in Canberra this Thursday, Ryan was named the 2019 PFA Men’s Footballer of the Year by former winner and Socceroo, Brett Holman, in front of his national team peers.

Concurrently, Ikonomidis was awarded the Harry Kewell Medal by Perth-based former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis. The Medal recognises the outstanding achievement of an under-23 footballer playing in the A-League or an overseas-based Australian.

The two accolades reward and celebrate Australia’s most exceptional senior and emerging male players each season, based on the principle of peer recognition.

Brighton and Hove’s Ryan had previously created history by becoming the first player to win both awards in 2015.

The 27-year-old received his second Men’s Footballer of the Year Medal during an intimate player-led presentation at the Socceroos’ team dinner on Monday night, featuring Holman and former PFA President and Socceroo Matt McKay.

Arriving in Australia following an impressive English Premier League performance in Brighton’s 3-0 win over Tottenham, Ryan capped off a significant 12-month period with the peer-voted award.

Reflecting on the award, which the gloveman won ahead of fellow nominees Aaron Mooy, Danny VukovicRoy Krishna and Isaias, Ryan said: 

“To accept the award in front of my teammates was a very proud moment and something I will cherish,” Ryan said.

“It’s a nice bit of recognition of all the hard work and dedication that you put in. I’m obviously living the dream and doing the best that I can and it’s nice to be recognised by my peers for the contribution I can make as a footballer to the country and domestically with Brighton as well.”

During the 2018/19 season, Ryan represented the Socceroos in two major international tournaments – the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates and the FIFA World Cup in Russia – while consolidating his position as a Premier League first-choice ‘keeper.

In the A-League, Ikonomidis had a standout campaign for Premiers Perth Glory last season, establishing himself as one of the country’s emerging talents.

With nine goals and five assists in 20 appearances, Ikonomidis excelled for the West-Australian outfit and was recognised for his performances with a call up into the Socceroos’ 2019 Asian Cup squad. 

Scoring against Syria during that tournament and featuring in the Socceroos’ five matches throughout the campaign, Ikonomidis coupled his national team achievements with a stellar domestic season, claiming the A-League’s Young Footballer of the Year award.

Ikonomidis beat out strong competition for the PFA Harry Kewell Medal from nominees Awer Mabil (Midtjylland, Socceroos), Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Brisbane Roar) and Sapreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix).  

Commenting on the accolade, Ikonomidis said:

“To have this kind of recognition from my peers is special and for me; it’s the highest honour when players you play against give you that award.

“It’s also special winning an award with Harry Kewell’s name on it. He was an idol of mine growing up and a reason I wanted to become a footballer.

“This award is special because it’s voted on by people who know football at the professional level and people who I have played with and against.”

Alongside Ryan and Ikonomidis, a new PFA and FFA award initiative – the Dylan Tombides Medal – was presented to Dylan’s father, Jim Tombides, by Matt McKay.

Following discussions between the Dylan Tombides foundation – DT38– FFA and the PFA, the best player from the Joeys (U17s), Young Socceroos (U20s) and Olyroos (U23s) will be awarded the Dylan Tombides Australian Youth Player of the Year Medal. The winner of the new award will be announced this year.

Jim Tombides travelled to Australia from England specifically to speak to the Socceroos about the award and how it allows Dylan’s legacy to live on, after the Australian youth international tragically passed away at the age of 20 from testicular cancer in 2014.