Ruben Dias of Manchester City has been elected the FWA Footballer of the Year for 2021, being the first defender to win the award since Steve Nicol of Liverpool in 1989.
Since his £62 million ($87 million) transfer to the Etihad Stadium in September 2020, the commanding Portugal international has been a revelation for the Blues. He has led Pep Guardiola’s side to the Premier League title, another Carabao Cup victory, and the Champions League final in 48 appearances across all competitions.
Dias, who joins Gianfranco Zola and Jurgen Klinsmann as the only players to win the FWA award in their first season in English football, said upon receiving his cup, “It’s a massive privilege. I’m ecstatic, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the team’s success. This honor belongs to everybody on the squad. And as a result of that was I willing to be here to accept this award as a defender.
It means a lot because usually, the players who finish the plays get all the attention. But me winning this award is a great representation of our team and how we perform. And how we develop our game. For me to receive this honor with these players demonstrates how we play as a family.
I’d like to thank] my teammates, all of the personnel – Pep included obviously – the Club [and the many faces responsible for getting me here], but most importantly, all of my colleagues: the staff, the physios, the kitmen, and the guys in the kitchen who make us feel good and ready to be the best we can be every day at the training ground. At the end of the day, all of those details matter.
The most important thing is to surround yourself with players who share your thoughts and mindset. Who understands the importance of the squad. And who understand that ‘if you lose, I will be there for you.’
It’s something you’ll see a lot in our group. When anyone makes a mistake, someone else will be there to save you and protect you. Most of the aspects that make it function so well are the mentality. If our Premier League win and this honor mean anything to me. I’d like to owe them a huge piece of it. I’d like to dedicate it to them, as well as my dad, who is still by my side.”
Dias easily won the Football Writers’ Association poll. He defeated opposition from Tottenham striker Harry Kane and teammate Kevin De Bruyne.
“Ruben Dias turned heads shortly after he arrived in Manchester. S 23-year-old belying his age with fortitude, steel, a constant desire for perfection. And an almost supernatural capacity to read and predict phases of play.” FWA chair Carrie Brown said on the organization’s official website.