Socceroos star Brett Holman capped his successful switch to the English Premier League by taking out the Australian footballer of the year award on Wednesday night.
Holman, one of Australia’s best-performed players in recent years, was awarded the top men’s prize at the Australian Football Awards in Sydney, with Matildas’ midfielder Sally Shipard taking out the women’s award.
In-demand Central Coast goalkeeper Mat Ryan continued his remarkable rise, claiming the under-20 men’s player of the year for the second straight year, as Melbourne Victory W-League star Stephanie Catley secured the women’s youth award.
Holman, 28, took the top gong despite missing five of Australia’s international matches this season, mostly due to injury.
However, he was rewarded for his strong form with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar late last season, before sealing a switch to Aston Villa at the start of this season. He has made 12 appearances for 18th-placed Villa, including eight starts, and his hard-working displays have quickly endeared him to fans, named the supporters’ player of the month for September.
Holman follows Mark Schwarzer (2009, 2010) and Matt McKay (2011) as a winner of the award, created by Football Federation Australia four years ago.
Shipard’s award came after a stellar 2011-12 W-League campaign in which she helped Canberra United to the title and a short but successful stint with Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Germany.
Mariners’ shotstopper Ryan continues to scoop the pool of youth awards, having also won the young A-League player of the year award for the past two seasons.
The 20-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to England in January, with Hull City already making an offer for his services and several other clubs believed to be interested.
With A-League star Alessandro Del Piero among those in attendance, a host of non-professional clubs, players and coaches were also recognised.
NSW’s Eureka Football was named the senior team of the year and the under 16 Avalon Soccer Club women’s team taking the junior award.
“It’s a great honour,” Holman said.
“It’s been a long, hard road and a battle but I’ve achieved some great things in 2012 in club football and with the Socceroos.”
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck described Holman as a “complete player” and predicted he would play a crucial role in Australia’s remaining qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.