Leicester forward Jamie Vardy has been voted the 2016 Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association, despite most writers denying voting for him.
The England international topped the poll of 290 journalists with 36 per cent of the vote, a clear winner ahead of team-mates Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante.
The 29-year-old striker has scored 24 goals for club and country so far this season as the Foxes close in on what would be a remarkable Barclays Premier League title triumph. They will be crowned champions should closest rivals Tottenham fail to beat Chelsea on Monday evening.
Seven Leicester players received votes in the FWA poll, with Danny Drinkwater, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, defenders Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson being recognised by the voters.
Leicester forward Vardy will be honoured with the prestigious FWA accolade, which has been running since 1948, at a gala dinner in London on May 12.
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FWA chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror, said: ”It is testament to their all-round excellence that so many Leicester players polled votes from our members. The Jamie Vardy story, though, clearly captured the imagination of so many writers.
“His record-breaking feat of scoring in 11 consecutive matches is the jewel in what will surely be Leicester’s Premier League crown.
“And the Footballer of the Year award is not just a reflection of his fantastic season, but recognition of a remarkable journey from non-league to the international stage.”
Other players to receive votes from FWA members were Tottenham striker Harry Kane, West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne as well as Spurs midfielder Dele Alli.
Vardy said: “It’s a great honour to win such a prestigious award and to have my name added to a list of previous winners that includes some unbelievable players. Thank you to the Football Writers’ Association and to everyone that voted.
“Thank you also to my team-mates, who are the reason I’ve been able to achieve anything. It’s been an amazing season for all of us at Leicester, based on teamwork not individuals, which you can see in the voting. Thanks also to the manager, all the staff and the fans for their support.
“We’re all totally focused on getting over the line in the final two weeks of the season and turning a great season into one we’ll never forget. Hopefully I can contribute to that and, if selected, carry some good form into the Euros this summer.”