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high press episode 25 – weekly football prediction

High Press Episode 25:

Episode 25 of High Press looks at the history of the FWA Player of the Year, with a trip down memory lane to look at some of the past winners.
Host Alison Bender is joined by Gerry Cox, John Cross and Carrie Brown to also discuss this season’s race for the award and who each of the panellists will be voting for.

Cox starts the episode off by recounting the winners when he was chair of the FWA. He believes this season’s contest for Player of the Year is one of the tightest ever, with voters facing some tough decisions.

From Sir Stanley Matthews to Fran Kirby

Brown remembers the significance of Fran Kirby and Nikita Parris winning Player of the Year, and provides an anecdote about Raheem Sterling’s brilliant speech when he won the award, followed by some awkward mingling backstage.

Cross says it ‘really means everything’, after seeing former winners turn up for the ceremony to celebrate 75 years of the award last year.
Looking at the criteria when voting on the award, Cox says, “In my view, it’s the player that gets you off your seat, the player you’d pay to go and watch… it’s not just about who’s the top scorer from the champions, there are so many other factors…

“I think this year, there are so many good players, and there are teams (like City, Arsenal and Liverpool), where there’s two or three candidates.”
After Cox mentioned the wording for the award, Brown brings up that the honour was created after British journalists wanted to have a way to acknowledge the greatness pf Stanley Matthews. The phrase ‘by precept and example’ was used, and that remains relevant to this day.

Frank Lampard – the modern footballer

Brown also looks back on when Jordan Henderson won the award and was brought to tears by Jurgen Klopp’s video message.
With each of the panel sharing stories of their award ceremony experiences, Cox talks through an emotional speech from Frank Lampard.

The then Chelsea midfielder delivered such a wonderful monologue that The Observer printed the speech in full the following day as an example of what a footballer should be.
Bender poses the challenging question of which Player of the Year stands out above the rest.

Ronaldo, Salah, Henry, Matthews – the standout winners

Cross names Thierry Henry as his ‘vote’, but also mentions Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Mo Salah. Cox says Stanley Matthews is ‘the perfect Footballer of the Year’, and adds, ‘he stands for everything we believe in’.

Anomalies of past winners

Taking a more controversial turn, Bender brings up some of the ‘anomalies’, including David Ginola, who won the award in the year that Manchester United won the treble. Cross argues it ‘should have been a United player’.

Scott Parker winning the award is another decision that aged poorly with West Ham suffering relegation. Cox admits it ‘stands out and looks odd’, but he accepts that there was a lot of support for it at the time.

Focusing on this year’s voting, Cross stresses the importance of picking a player from the champions. While he may have to vote before the title is decided, he says he would pick Rodri if he had to vote now.

Cox says he would be ‘very tempted’ to take Phil Foden over Rodri. For the women’s award, Lauren James has a lot of support from Cross and Brown.

Who wins the FWA POTY award in 2024?

Who would get your vote?

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