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Footballer of the year

Steven Gerrard today spoke of his delight at being voted Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association.

The Liverpool captain beat off competition from Manchester United's Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney to land the prestigious honour, becoming the first Reds player since John Barnes in 1990 to scoop the award in the process.

"I'm delighted but I'm a little bit surprised," said the 28-year-old.

"When you look at the quality of the players there are in this league, it' a great privilege to win this kind of award.

"It' made even more special for me because I am following in the footsteps of Liverpool players like John Barnes, Steve Nicol and Kenny Dalglish who were heroes of mine.

"Then further back players like Ian Callaghan and Terry McDermott who were heroes to my dad and so many other Liverpool fans.

"It's not just the Manchester United players - when you look at the players the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal and other teams have got, they all have fantastic players throughout their squads now.

"The quality is getting better and better each year so to win this award is a great achievement for myself.

"But I've had fantastic help along the way from everyone at this football club.

"My family and friends come every time I play and everything I achieve in football they are a very big part of that because they are there for me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"But the biggest thank yous have to go to the manager, the coaching staff and my team-mates.

"Individual awards are great but you don't win them without great help from those people."

Gerrard revealed a phone call from Liverpool's communications director Ian Cotton informed him of his triumph.

He said: "I got a phone call from Ian and was debating whether or not to take the call because I thought I might have been in the papers for the wrong reasons!

"But when I did take the call and he delivered the good news it was a great feeling for me."

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