Raheem Sterling has pipped Virgil Van Dijk to the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award.
Sterling, 24, won 62 per cent of the votes and finished more than 100 clear of Liverpool defender Van Dijk, who was crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday evening.
Sterling’s team-mate Sergio Aguero was in third place.
Voting for the writers’ award, presented to “the professional player who by precept and example is considered by a ballot of members to be the footballer of the year”, opened on April 1.
The Manchester City and England star has scored 29 goals for club and country across the season, with City leading the Premier League title race by a point from Liverpool and helping Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side to the inaugural Uefa Nations League finals this summer.
However, his off the field work is likely the factor to have set Sterling aside from the rest of the contenders for this season’s top prize, won last term by Mohamed Salah.
Sterling has taken a bold stance against racism within football, society and the media, taking the lead after being the victim of racist abuse playing for both City and England this season.
The forward was honoured for his work in this field at the BT Sports Industry Awards last week. “I was just speaking about my personal experiences,” Sterling said.
“I didn’t expect it to get so much attention, I just wanted to bring it to the attention of my audience on Instagram. It’s been really pleasing to see people listening and trying and do better.”
The FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year award for 2019 is Manchester City’s England forward Nikita Parris, who won the vote of an FWA panel of experts by the narrowest of margins from Arsenal and Holland striker Vivianne Miedema.