Ander Herrera has capped a fine third season for Manchester United by winning the club’s prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.
The midfielder topped the closest-ever poll for this prize, finishing just 242 votes ahead of Antonio Valencia, with top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic not much further behind in a three-way contest that went right down to the wire and reflected the superb contributions of those players in 2016/17.
Operating in a deeper role in Jose Mourinho’s midfield, Herrera’s whole-hearted, all-action displays have won him many admirers and he’s just one appearance shy of a half-century for the season.
The 27-year-old, who also made his senior international debut for Spain in November, succeeds compatriot and friend David De Gea, the winner of our coveted accolade for the previous three seasons.
"It’s very special for me to win this award because when you see the list of winners, you realise how important it is," said Herrera after collecting his award at Thursday's ceremony at Old Trafford. "And I stopped the record of David!
"I feel it [the fans’ affection] and I’m very thankful but I think a Manchester United player can never stop; we have to keep giving them the affection back because you can see we don’t always perform at our best, yet they are always behind us."
De Gea, who was on stage to help present Herrera's award, said: "He’s a top guy and a good friend. He’s an emotional player who plays with heart on the pitch and he’s a good player, to be fair!"
The high point of our no.21’s campaign was almost certainly the 2-0 win over champions-elect Chelsea last month, when he contributed a goal and an assist in the kind of effective and passionate performance that has made him so popular with the United faithful.
Not that he’s overly concerned with personal acclaim, as he explained to United Reviewbefore that game. "I like to demand a lot of myself because I feel I can give more, and more, and more to the team," he said. "I am happy and I think it is the right attitude. But when everyone is saying you’re having a great season, I don’t think it is good for you, so I don’t listen too much."
Information is Power