Raheem Sterling and Nikita Parris crowned FWA Footballers of the Year

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling has been crowned the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year, adding to his PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Sterling finished well ahead of PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk in the voting, with Manchester City team-mate Sergio Aguero coming in third.

Van Dijk and Sterling win PFA awards
There were also votes for Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Alexandre Lacazette.

Nikita Parris made it a City double after being named FWA Women's Footballer of the Year after scoring 19 goals in 19 games in the Women's Super League.

Having scored 17 goals and assisted another 10, Sterling has played a prominent role in putting City on the verge of retaining their Premier League title for the first time, as well producing the goods in the Champions League and on the international stage for England.

Off the pitch, Sterling's role has been just as important. Sterling has called out racial abuse directed at him and other players, backing harsher punishments for those found guilty of discriminatory behaviour, and has put his name to a manifesto demanding a change in how football's authorities deal with racism in the game.

Sterling setting an example to all
"In such a close title race, there is no surprise that two of the main protagonists are from Liverpool and Manchester City, but it is Raheem Sterling that is the resounding victor, winning by more than 100 votes - 62 per cent of the votes went to Sterling," Carrie Brown, chair of the FWA told Sky Sports News.

"Sterling talked this week about looking to Steven Gerrard for leadership, to set an example, but we believe he has set an example not just for his generations, but for generations ahead of him and before him.

"We did think it was going to be closer than that. We have to recognise that Virgil van Dijk has had a stunning season, we all recognise the abilities of defenders, but it is this leadership off the field that I think has tipped Raheem Sterling's vote in his favour.

"I must say, when I was trying to wrote an assimilation of what he has achieved this season, you cannot underplay how far he has developed in the game."

Cardiff defender Sol Bamba also praised Sterling's work off the pitch, while believing he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi.

"Sterling has the potential to be one of the greatest, even to be mentioned alongside [Messi] is already credit to him," Bamba told Sky Sports News. "Off the field, what he is doing for the community, and his generosity is very very good. The award is deserved, and he could have easily won the PFA award.

"When you are high profile like him playing at the top of your game, and have so many things outside the football field to deal with, to carry on performing like he is, is massive for him and a credit to him.

"He is not afraid to speak on behalf of the black players or those communities. It is not easy to come out and speak about that kind of thing, but he did it and did it in a good manner."

'The 24-year-old England international has contributed goals and assists to Manchester City's quadruple bid but his season has been about so much more. This was the year in which Sterling transcended his sport by reminding everyone that it is more than a sport.

'It would be quite wrong to call this a redemption tale because to do so would be to imply that there was any wrongdoing on Sterling's part in the first place. He was the victim of vociferous criticism and a media culture only too eager to feed the beast. Sterling's response - on the field and off it - should humble his antagonists and inspire his growing number of admirers'.