Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was named the Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) at a ceremony in London on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Netherlands international has scored 27 Premier League goals so far this season — his best return for the north London club — and he was proud to be honored by a poll of top-flight players.
“If other people are saying it, it is special, but it is even more special if your opponents are saying it,” Van Persie said. “It is very special because you are playing against them week in, week out, and every single player does everything to win, and in the end if they make up their minds that I’m the best player, it is a big honor.”
Van Persie added none of his success would be possible but for the contribution of his fellow Gunners.
“Without them, I could not have achieved it,” he said. “For example, Theo Walcott, he has given me more than 12 assists and I do really appreciate that.”
Van Persie was originally deployed as a second striker by Arsenal after signing from Feyenoord in 2004 in a role made famous by fellow Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp during his time with the club, but despite his own initial doubts, Van Persie has relished the role of leading Arsenal’s attack since being switched to the centerforward position by manager Arsene Wenger.
“Now I am [confident]. To be fair, when I first went there I wasn’t really as confident and I wasn’t really sure I could do it. It took a bit of time, but after a couple of months I slowly realized I could do a good job there,” Van Persie said.
Tottenham Hotspur and England fullback Kyle Walker won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and the 21-year-old could not quite believe he was receiving the honor.
“I was a bit surprised because defenders don’t normally get these awards and get the limelight as much as the centerforwards,” Walker said. “If you look at the people I was in with, then it is a great honor to get the award and hopefully there is more to come.”