The last five players to win the PFA POTY in their debut season for a club
Only five players have won the PFA Player of the Year award in their first campaign at a club since 1990.
The feat happened only once during the 2000s, and we’ve looked back at the last five players to do so.
Mo Salah – 2017-18
It seems remarkable to think that if Jurgen Klopp had his way last summer, Liverpool would have started the season with Julian Brandt in attack rather than Salah.
Speaking on the Totally Football Show, journalist Rafa Honigstein revealed Klopp had made Bayer Leverkusen’s Brandt his preferred target, only for sporting director Michael Edwards to convince the German that Salah was the better option.
Brandt, 21, has scored 11 goals in all competitions for Leverkusen this term, whereas Salah has surpassed everybody’s expectations by bagging 41 for the Reds, becoming the first person to win three Player of the Month awards in a single season.
Jürgen Klopp preferred Julian Brandt over Mo Salah last summer.
— TotallyFootballShow (@TheTotallyShow) March 19, 2018
N’Golo Kante – 2016-17
Despite being named Leicester City’s Player of the Year in their title-winning campaign, Kante missed out on the PFA award to team-mate Riyad Mahrez, while Jamie Vardy was named the FWA Footballer of the Year.
But Kante made amends the following season, joining Chelsea and replicating his form for the Foxes as the engine in the west Londoners’ midfield.
Frank Lampard labelled the France international “the best central midfielder in world football” due to his heroics for the Blues. Eden Hazard, meanwhile, said: “He is a like a rat, he goes everywhere,” which we think is a compliment.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy – 2001-02
Arsenal may have won the Double that season – with Freddie Ljungberg’s efforts going particularly underrated – but it was a campaign which marked a spectacular turnaround for Van Nistelrooy.
The previous season the striker had suffered a career-threatening knee injury, which also delayed his transfer to Manchester United by a year, but he returned to score 36 goals in all competitions at Old Trafford.
“Playing for Manchester United is a fantastic feeling, but then again so is just playing because when I was injured there were doubts I would play again,” he said upon receiving the award, although Sir Alex Ferguson won’t have been paying much attention.
“I haven’t paid attention to the selections for Footballer of the Year since 1999 when we won the treble and David Ginola of Spurs was given Player of the Year,” Fergie said in 2013.
Alan Shearer – 1996-97
Entering the season as the most expensive player in world football and with the weight of his hometown club on his shoulders, Shearer failed to disappoint.
Winning his third consecutive Golden Boot award, Shearer scored 28 goals in all competitions as Newcastle finished second in the Premier League.
It was also the second time the England striker was named PFA Player of the Year, having also collected the accolade in Blackburn’s title-winning season.
Les Ferdinand – 1995-96
Looking back it doesn’t feel quite right that it wasn’t Shearer leading the line when Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ came closest to lifting the title, but Ferdinand.
Newcastle paid £6million to land Ferdinand from QPR, and the striker duly went on to score 29 goals in all competitions, only for the Magpies to infamously collapse at the business end of the season.
After one more season at St James’ Park, the England international returned to London to join Tottenham in a deal which marked the end of Newcastle’s golden period in the mid-90s, but it could have been oh so different had Ferdinand and Shearer’s partnership being allowed to continue to flourish.
Their pinnacle arguably came in the 5-0 destruction of Manchester United, after which Keegan waited in the tunnel to shake the hands of the opposition players.
“They all walked past,” he later revealed. “Apart from Eric Cantona, who just said, ‘You have a f*cking good team!'”