Mohamed Salah’s spectacular season received the ultimate recognition on Sunday night when he was named as the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year.
The Liverpool forward edged the vote ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne after scoring 41 goals in his first year at Anfield. Leroy Sane’s exceptional season with Manchester City saw him clinch the Young Player of the Year award. Salah became the seventh Liverpool player to win the award and the first since Luis Suarez in 2014.
The 25-year-old is favourite to win the Golden Boot and could also add the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award to his haul, but his immediate priority is the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against his old club Roma on Tuesday.
‘It’s a big honour. I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it,’ said Salah, who became the first Egyptian to win the award. ‘Hopefully I’m not the last one! I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.’
Speaking on the stage, he said: ‘It’s an honour to be the Player of the Year for the Premier League, especially as it’s voted for by the players.’
‘I think from day first I left the Premier League, it was always in my mind that I wanted success here. I didn’t get the chance at Chelsea so I was clear in my mind that I would return. I think I left and then I came back as a different person, a different man and a different player.’
Asked about the upcoming clash with his former club Roma, he said: ‘It’s very special to play for a club like Liverpool in a semi-final and you can see the atmosphere in Anfield is great. It’s also great that it is against Roma as I still have many good friends, we still talk to each other.
‘Everything is possible. We take it game-by-game and we will do our very best to win the Champions League.’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking in a prerecorded message, said: ‘It is really rare in football that you win as an individual, an individual trophy, because it is a team game.
‘But in this, the team lives from personalities, from characters, from players and I am really happy that I had the opportunity to be your manager in the last year.
‘I think this award, you are voted for from all the other players in all the leagues in England, is an unbelievable honour so you can be really proud and your family can be really proud.
‘On behalf of the LFC family, again, congratulations. It was a fantastic ride so far, but you know we have still a few yards to go. With the best wishes for your future here at LFC, [from] your manager.
‘And now, please grab the trophy and come home – we play on Tuesday! See you then.’
After scoring in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at West Brom, Salah equalled the record Suarez shares with Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo for 31 goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
And the Egyptian wants to make that feat his own and better their tallies in Liverpool’s remaining three games.
He said: ‘To break the Premier League record is something huge in England and all over the world. I want to break this record and also break the one for (42-game season). Let’s see what will happen.’