Pires Crowned Footballer of the Year 2002Robert Pires has been named the Footballer Writers' Association Footballer of the Year in one of the tightest votes ever.
A record number of votes were received with Pires edging out Ruud Van Nistelrooy by just five votes. In total, 13 players received votes with David Beckham coming third followed by Thierry Henry and Sammi Hyypia.
It's a triumph for the French winger and will help ease the pain of missing the rest of the season and the World Cup with a cruciate ligament injury.
Speaking from Strasbourg where he is undergoing further test on his knee before deciding on a date for surgery, Pires said : "I'm delighted to be given this honour. Obviously it's a very difficult time for me but winning this award has given me something to smile about.
"I would like to thank the Football Writers' Association for the honour and also my team-mates at Arsenal because I could not have achieved anything without them. There is a magnificent team spirit at Highbury and this is an award for us all, not just me."
Arsene Wenger added: "I'm delighted for Robert because he is a wonderful person, not just a fantastic footballer. He has played a major part in our success this season and to be voted Footballer of the Year is a real recognition of his talents.
"Everybody at the club is happy for Robert because obviously he was very down after being injured. Now we just hope to have him back and fully fit before too long."
FWA Chairman, Paul McCarthy, said: "It's been an amazing season and the fact only a handful of votes separated the top three is an indication of the depth of quality in the Premiership. Robert is an outstanding player, he has provided the fantasy in Arsenal's play and richly deserves the recognition."
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