Roy Hodgson hailed Aaron Wan-Bissaka as ‘the complete full-back’ when he handed the England U21 international Crystal Palace’s player of the year award, writes Andrew McSteen
The Croydon-born defender had earlier won the PFA Male Community Champion Award for the club and was then voted by the players as their players’ player of the season, which meant a clean sweep for the 21-year-old off the pitch, adding to his fame for clean sweeps on it.
Speaking at the club’s annual awards night at Boxpark, Croydon, on Tuesday night, Hodgson said: “He’s been outstanding. He had a baptism of fire over a year ago now, playing three of the top six teams in his first games but he’s been so good in all of the games.
“He’s a complete full-back as far as I’m concerned and I’m very glad we have him and delighted for him and his family.”
Wan-Bissaka took the player of the season award despite strong voting for captain Luka Milivojevic and star man Wilfried Zaha, who was denied a fourth-consecutive award, which would have tied him with Julian Speroni for a club record.
“It’s a real honour, I really didn’t expect it but I’m happy to have won,” said Palace’s rising star, who is in his first full season at Selhurst Park. “I’m very grateful [to Hodgson and his coaches], I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity.
“It makes me feel proud to come away with three [awards]. I didn’t expect it but at the same time I am grateful to win all three.”
Wan-Bissaka is the 35th different Eagle to have won the award since its inception in 1972 and comes after he picked up the Young Player of the Year Award at last year’s event. And it was no surprise that the young defender won the public vote, gaining 59 per cent of more than 8,000 votes, putting Milivojevic and Zaha into second and third spot respectively.
Andros Townsend’s missile strike at Manchester City in the Eagles’ 3-2 league win in December saw 91 per cent of votes go to him for Goal of the Season, with Palace goalscoring legend Mark Bright presenting the award.
“It was probably the sweetest strike of my career,” he said on stage. “I’ve scored one or two that I’ve been happy with but this season I was aiming for quantity over quality. I think it’s been my best goalscoring season.”
A special award was also presented to club legend Speroni. The shot stopper from Argentina received the Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Contribution from Steve Parish, recognising the 15 years at the club for the player who has made over 400 appearances for the Eagles and who is out of contract at the end of the season.
“In the modern era you just don’t get players who’ve had the opportunity to leave but always done the right thing, always been available, always performed,” said Parish. “This guy is an absolute model footballer.
“I can’t really express how much this means to me, how much the fans mean to me and not just to me but my family too,” Speroni said. “I can’t thank everybody enough.” Roll of Honour: