Which England star should win this year’s Player of the Year award?
By Jordan Florit
Sunday 11 Dec 2011 11:50:00
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England managed to finish their 2011 fixtures in the same manner that they started them; with two wins. The first two came back in February and March with a 2-1 win over Denmark and a 2-0 victory over the late Gary Speed’s Wales team and they finished 2011 with victories too. A 1-0 win over European and World champions Spain, was enough to send the media into sensationalist overkill and the same score-line against Sweden saw England march into 2012 with a 9-game unbeaten run.

Fabio Capello’s Three Lions went all of 2011 unbeaten, winning six of their nine fixtures and scoring 15 along the way. It was a stark contrast to the year before, which saw England fail miserably in South Africa, slumping to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the World Cup. Their doom and gloom didn’t end there though; having been scrupulously damned from fan to pundit, Capello had a task of rejuvenating England in time for Poland and Ukraine. When the young changed face of England, including two debutants, then lost 2-1 to a half-strength France side in November 2010, it looked like 2011 would be an arduous year of preparation in vain for Poland and Ukraine. However, 32 players, 6 wins and a few minor controversies later, England are beginning to shape up for the European Championships 2012.

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This year has been England’s first unbeaten year since 1994 and you could argue this year was more successful; despite England only conceding one goal that year, it was down to the fact they failed to qualify for the World Cup in the United States and were therefore playing the likes of Norway, Greece and Denmark in meaningless friendlies. This year has seen the emergence of Joe Hart as England’s #1 and the resurgence of Scott Parker in the national team, who received his first call up since October 2006. It’s also seen Welbeck, Jones and Walker, among others, make the step-up from under-21s to the full side.

Last year, Ashley Cole won the England Player of the Year Award. The award is given to the best performing player in the calendar year, based on an online poll carried out by the F.A. Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney have both received the accolade, which has been in existence since 2003 and first won by David Beckham, twice. So, out of the 32 players who have featured for The Three Lions this year, who are the genuine contenders?

Joe Hart

Frustratingly, for most England fans, this 24-year old shot stopper didn’t feature once in South Africa. However, since then he has grasped his chance with both gloved hands, building on the three sub appearances he had prior to the World Cup. In between the sticks, Joe Hart is yet to lose in an England shirt and is one of only two players to feature in every game in 2011, effectively guaranteeing himself the #1 jersey in South Africa. Furthermore he is the only player to go 14 games unbeaten for England since ’96. In 9 starts in 2011, Hart has conceded just 6. His goalkeeping exploits surely warrant a top three finish for this year’s award.

Scott Parker

Last season, Scott Parker was one of the few blazing beacons at Upton Park and his sensational form and inspirational team talks of footballing legend, ensured he stayed well and truly in Capello’s plans. There was a smidgen of controversy when The Hammers went down and Capello highlighted the problem Parker would face staying in the Championship: “The problem in the Championship is a play-off. If you go straight to the Premier League, no problem, but the play-off will play to June and another thing is, they play 46 games – more than the Premier League.” However, Scott Parker moved to Tottenham controversy-free and since then he has become the lynchpin of Tottenham’s midfield, making 5.96 tackles a game and he has carried his form across to the world stage. Against Spain, a man-of-the-match performance was churned out by the Charlton graduate and his passing ability and defensive duties saw England take away a 1-0 victory.

James Milner

Alongside club and country team-mate Joe Hart, Milner has played in the majority of England’s fixtures in 2011. In the 8 games, Milner has played over 600 minutes of football for The Three Lions and the once ever-present under-21 international, who holds the record of most caps at that level – 46, has cemented his place at left midfield. With 6 starts out of 8 games, only missing Montenegro, Milner looks like he is to play a pivotal role in Capello’s plans for Euro 2012 and with regular match time in a star-studded Manchester City team, England are fortunate to have a consistent and natural left-midfielder for the first time in ten years.

Ashley Cole

Having won the trophy last year, Chelsea’s left back entered 2011 in a rich vein of form and continued it throughout the season, putting in seasoned performances in 7 of England’s 9 fixtures. Only missing Sweden and Ghana, both friendlies, Ashley Cole has continued to prove he is England’s best left back into his 92nd and 93rd England cap. Euro 2012 may well be Ashley Cole’s last major tournament for England, as by the time Brazil comes around, the Chelsea defender will be 33. For now though, he is keeping an impressive Leighton Baines out of the England squad.

Frank Lampard

For a short while, the media managed to whip up a concoction of intoxicants that all had us wondering if Lampard’s England career was done and dusted. The Daily Mail brashly stated in July that, “Frank Lampard’s career as a first-choice England midfielder is finally over.” Lampard went on to start two of England’s remaining four games, captain his country against the world champions and score the match-winning goal.  That goal, his third of the year, meant that Lampard has now got the most goals at Wembley, joint with Peter Crouch at 9. Lampard has already taken home the trophy twice for England and considering Wayne Rooney’s recent performances in an England shirt, if anyone is going to make it a hat-trick of awards, it is England’s midfield evergreen.

There are 32 players to choose from, ranging from Gareth Barry, who scored England’s 2000th goal, to Jack Wilshire, who is heralded as England’s future.  Take your pick and vote for your winner in our poll.

You can also follow England Fansonline on Twitter @1HellOfABeating 




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