Rachel Daly and Erling Haaland named PFA Players of the Year

Bukayo Saka celebrates with his PFA Young Player of the Year trophy (PFA handout/PA)
Bukayo Saka celebrates with his PFA Young Player of the Year trophy (PFA handout/PA)

England and Aston Villa star Rachel Daly and Manchester City striker Erling Haaland have won the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year awards.

Daly’s Lionesses team-mate Lauren James and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka have been named as the PFA young players of the year in the awards voted for by their peers.

Daly and James were key performers for England in their run to the World Cup final earlier this month, but the accolades they received at the PFA’s 50th anniversary awards event in Salford are based on their performances last season.

Lauren James, Erling Haaland and Bukayo Saka, left to right, with their PFA awards
Lauren James, Erling Haaland and Bukayo Saka, left to right, were among the big winners (Jon Super/PFA) (Jon Super for PFA/Jon Super for PFA)

Saka was voted the men’s Young Player of the Year after a terrific season for club and country, while a star of the club’s past, Ian Wright, picked up the men’s PFA Merit award.

Jill Scott, who won 161 caps for England and retired after the Lionesses won the Euros last summer, received the women’s Merit award.

Daly’s victory in the senior women’s player category came after she hit 22 goals in the Women’s Super League for Aston Villa last season – a remarkable achievement for a player who featured at left-back in the Lionesses’ successful Euros campaign last summer.

The 31-year-old from Harrogate saw off competition from five other illustrious WSL names on the nominees list – Sam Kerr, Frida Maanum, Guro Reiten, Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and Ona Batlle.

James, who featured in the World Cup final as a substitute after a red card in the last 16 against Nigeria meant she was suspended for the quarter-final and semi-final, was a key player for Chelsea as they won the domestic double.

Haaland enjoyed a stunning debut season for Manchester City, hitting 52 goals in all competitions as they won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble last season.

The 23-year-old was voted as the Premier League’s top player, seeing off competition from his team-mates John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, as well as from Arsenal duo Saka and Martin Odegaard and former Tottenham striker Harry Kane, now at Bayern Munich.

“It’s an honour to win this prestigious award. To be recognised by your competitors is a great feeling and I would like to thank everyone who voted for me,” said Haaland.

“It was an unforgettable season for the team and for me personally. Winning the treble was something I never imagined, so to achieve that with such a special group of players was an amazing feeling.

“We created some incredible memories last season, but now we want to do the same again this year. We have started the season well and we need to keep going.”

Saka secured the young player prize after enjoying his finest season to date, scoring 14 goals for the Gunners and contributing 11 assists.

He was also one of England’s star performers at the World Cup in Qatar last winter.

Bukayo Saka celebrates with his PFA Young Player of the Year trophy
Bukayo Saka celebrates with his PFA Young Player of the Year trophy (PFA handout/PA)

Wright’s career in football was recognised with the Merit award. The 59-year-old, who starred as a striker for Arsenal, Crystal Palace and England, is now a popular broadcaster for the BBC and ITV.

Wright has become a vocal ally for the women’s game and also campaigns against discrimination within the sport. He became an OBE for services to football and charity in the King’s Birthday Honours in June.

Scott received the women’s merit award in recognition of a stellar career at club and international level. The 36-year-old played for Sunderland, Everton and Manchester City between 2004 and 2022. As well as her England caps, she also featured for Team GB at London 2012 and again in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

To mark the awards reaching a half-century, the PFA also handed out individual player prizes for the Championship, League One and League Two for the first time.

Chuba Akpom with his Championship Player of the Year trophy
Chuba Akpom is the first ever PFA Championship Player of the Year (PFA handout/PA)

Chuba Akpom was voted as the second tier’s top player, after top scoring with 28 goals for Middlesbrough. His fine form at Boro earned him a summer move to Dutch side Ajax.

Conor Chaplin, whose 26 goals spearheaded Ipswich’s promotion push from League One, won that division’s award, while Bradford’s Andy Cook was League Two’s Players’ Player of the Year.