Van Persie 'surprised' with award

Robin van Persie admitted he never thought he would be Footballer of the Year after collecting the Football Writers' Association prize at Thursday's gala dinner in London.

The Holland striker, 28, topped the poll of journalists with a landslide victory ahead of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney in second place and his Old Trafford team-mate Paul Scholes third, with Fulham's Clint Dempsey fourth.

"It makes me very proud to be here, I have seen the list [of previous winners], and for me, I never really thought I would be sitting here winning this trophy," Van Persie said. "But even this season I was not really thinking about winning a trophy for myself, I was just playing because I love it and for Arsenal to finish as high as possible in the league.

The Dutchman's 35 goals in all competitions have helped propel the Gunners into the top four of the Barclays Premier League, leaving them on the brink of automatic Champions League qualification for next season.

Van Persie - who was also named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year - collected the prestigious FWA accolade, which has been running since 1948, at the London Lancaster Hotel this evening and admitted it was an unexpected honour.

He continued: "When I found out I had actually won it, I was a bit surprised, and was like 'what me? really?' It makes me really proud to be part of that history."

Van Persie, who has yet to agree a new, long-term deal with the Gunners, revealed being honoured by both his peers and journalists alike was a humbling experience.

The Dutchman said: "The writers know everything about the season because they have seen every single game, analysed ever goal, every move, they know everything about you. They are doing interviews with me and other players, they get a clear picture of who is the best player, which is why it means so much that these guys have voted for me."

FWA chairman Steve Bates, chief football writer at The People, paid tribute to the Gunners skipper.

He said: "Robin van Persie has had a quite magnificent season, excelling with consistent flashes of individual brilliance which have lit up the Barclays Premier League as well as bolstering Arsenal's season. It is hard to think of another player in the Premier League this season who has had such a galvanising effect on the team than Van Persie."