The Manchester City man has 29 goals in all competitions so far this season. He’s also has received plenty of extra praise for his community work and outspoken criticism of the tabloid media’s targetting of black footballers.
Despite losing out to Van Dijk in the award voted for by fellow Premier League players, Sterling, who had the consolation of being named PFA Young Player of the Year, emphatically claimed the FWA award with 62 per cent of the 400-plus votes.
Only eight players actually received a vote, while Sterling finished ahead of the runner-up Van Dijk by over 100. Sergio Aguero – who scored his 20th league goal of the season as City beat Burnley 1-0 – finished third.
Their City team-mates David Silva and Bernardo Silva were also voted for, as were Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Alexandre Lacazette.
Last year’s winner, Mohamed Salah, didn’t receive a single vote, even though he currently tops the Premier League’s top scorers list with 21 goals.
The votes haven’t been made public, but some writers have revealed how they voted:
"I voted for Raheem Sterling…
Should Sterling beaten Van Dijk to the title? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Ec0JSLv8xp
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) April 29, 2019
I’ve voted for @sterling7 for the @theofficialfwa Footballer of the Year. And he’s waaaay too old for the PFA Young Player. Should be 21 limit in future… Van Dijk has had an amazing season but think Raheem Sterling has done way more than just be the best on the pitch.
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) April 28, 2019
And now @sterling7 has won @theofficialfwa’s Footballer Of The Year Award. The one for grown ups. As a new member of the FWA I voted for Sterling. He’s had a truly outstanding season and has been a delight to watch. Well played 👏👏
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 29, 2019
.@theofficialFWA Footballer of the Year announced at 10am. Firmly expecting Raheem Sterling to win. I went for Van Dijk (nice to vote for a defender for once) but will be delighted for Sterling if he wins it. Excellent season on the pitch and a very powerful contribution off it
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) April 29, 2019
Raheem Sterling is FWA Player of the Year. I voted for Virgil van Dijk but Sterling a worthy winner in very much a two-horse race https://t.co/Y5TOGISsUn
— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) April 29, 2019
MoS column later: Why I voted for Raheem Sterling for the FWA Footballer of the Year.
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) April 27, 2019
— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerMerc) April 29, 2019
My vote went to @sterling7. At the @theofficialfwa, we need to ensure our award remains about conduct and communication as well as talent. Raheem Sterling has been a class act on and off the field. https://t.co/QBNkUkK6uq
— Ian Ridley (@IanRidley1) April 29, 2019
— Ash Rose (@AshroseUK) April 29, 2019
Why Virgil van Dijk got my vote for Footballer of the Year – and how he encapsulates the disparity between Liverpool and United https://t.co/D7VM77jrhF
— Matt Dickinson (@DickinsonTimes) April 25, 2019
Voted for Raheem Sterling to be the FWA Footballer of the Year. Bit on why here. https://t.co/GU5TQK6p8V
— Adam Bate (@ghostgoal) April 23, 2019
— Steve Bates (@sbates_people) April 29, 2019
Voted for Sterling as Footballer of the Year, for his exploits on and off the pitch. A role model who has developed into one of the best players in Europe, the @theofficialfwa award is fully deserved #MCFC #Sterling https://t.co/rNmWNcp4Kx
— David McDonnell (@DiscoMirror) April 29, 2019
— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) April 29, 2019
Sterling got my vote for @theofficialfwa PoY. Winner announced 10am.
— Steve Wilson (@Wilsonfooty) April 29, 2019
Thoroughly deserved winner. Got my vote. Mind you, long time since we gave it to a defender … Steve Nicol in 1989 https://t.co/4HwNJ9NgYd
— Andy Dunn (@andydunnmirror) April 29, 2019
— Simon Mullock (@MullockSMirror) April 29, 2019