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Liverpool skipper Gerrard "surprised" by Player of Year gong

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard admits he was surprised to be named the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year.

He is the first Liverpool player since John Barnes in 1990 to claim the honour.

"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's a great privilege to win this kind of award.

"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.

"It's 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."

Gerrard will receive the trophy at an Football Writers' Association gala dinner in London on May 29.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had nothing but praise for his captain, who has been the driving force behind their bid to challenge Manchester United for the Premier League title.

"I'm really pleased for Steven," Benitez told liverpoolfc.tv. "It is fantastic for him because he was competing with a lot of good players.

"For him to be named player of the year is massive credit to him and shows just how much he has achieved."

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