Kevin De Bruyne was crowned Manchester City’s first ever PFA Player of the Year on Tuesday night.
The Belgian equalled Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 assists in a single season as City finished a distant second to Premier League champions Liverpool.
De Bruyne edged out team-mate Raheem Sterling, who became the first City player to finish a campaign with more goals than Sergio Aguero since the Argentine’s arrival in 2011.
“It’s a big honour, I think, to be voted by your colleagues, your competitors from other teams, who you always play against on the field and they vote for you for best player. It’s amazing.”@debruynekev on being voted the 2020 Male #POTY #PFAawards @mancity #mancity pic.twitter.com/H5zVHPZMJG
— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) September 8, 2020
Liverpool quartet Trent Alexander-Arnold – who won the PFA Young Player of the Year – Jordan Henderson, Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane were also nominees.
‘It’s a huge honour. To be voted for by your colleagues and competitors from other teams who you play against is amazing,’ De Bruyne said.
‘It’s strange that I’m the first one at City given all the good players that have played here before and who are still playing here but it’s nice.’
Liverpool captain Henderson paid tribute to De Bruyne, tweeting: ‘Congratulations to @DeBruyneKev on winning the @PFA Players’ Player of the Year award. Class act on and off the pitch. Well deserved’.
City are expected to agree on a new contract with De Bruyne, who is widely regarded as the finest central midfielder in Europe after blossoming under the management of Pep Guardiola.
‘We are so proud of Kevin and this will only strengthen what he means to this club,’ Guardiola said. ‘Kevin is the first to receive this prestigious award and this recognition is also a tribute to all the fantastic players who have come before him. It’s an outstanding achievement.’
De Bruyne also pitched in with 13 league goals from midfield and that he has topped the vote of his peers indicates the influence the 29-year-old had on the division despite City falling short.
Liverpool pair Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah won the gong in the previous two seasons as City lifted consecutive titles.
Manchester United’s Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez at Liverpool were victorious as City finished top in 2012 and 2014 respectively, with the awards usually announced before the season ends.
‘When players vote for you, and it’s everyone who is voting not just a few, that means you’ve done really well during the season,’ added De Bruyne, who was also awarded Premier League Player of the Season last month.
‘Most of the time Pep just lets me be me. He gives me a lot of freedom. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it goes between us and he knows I will always put the team first.
‘If I can help myself, I’ll do that, but he knows I want the team to win and if the team wins then I’ll gain from it. In that sense he trusts me completely.’