The Chelsea Annual Awards event has taken place at Olympia in Kensington, a short journey north from Stamford Bridge, with N'Golo Kante taking home the main prize...
The hosts were broadcasters Sam Matterface and Seema Jaswal, with honours for individual achievement handed out and the story of the 2017/18 season for first team, Ladies and Academy sides reviewed.
Here are the award details…
Yokohama Chelsea Player of the Year
N’Golo Kante’s outstanding influence and consistency in the Chelsea midfield in 2017/18 has made him the top choice for Chelsea fans when voting via this website for the season’s top performer.
This was one of the few individual honours he did not win for his first Chelsea season last year, when he was a close second to Eden Hazard in this vote and was also the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year. This season, the 27-year-old has been a near fixture in the side barring a short period out with injury when his presence was missed. He has made 46 appearances so far this campaign.
‘I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to enjoy this night,’ said Kante, who accepted the award from Antonio Conte.
‘We have a very good team, a very good team spirit, I have really enjoyed my two seasons with Chelsea and I hope we can win and do the best things in the future.’
Players’ Player of the Year
Willian was elected the winner of this award by his colleagues for the second time, having collected it two years ago when he was also the fans’ choice, and it was one of two honours for him tonight too.
The 29-year-old has scored 13 goals this season, two of those in our run to the FA Cup final later this month.
Chelsea Young Player of the Year
It has truly been a breakthrough year for Andreas Christensen at Chelsea. A graduate and trophy winner from our Academy, he spent two years away playing at a high level on loan before returning and earning his place as a first choice in our defence for the greater part of this season.
His composed defending, pace and passing has caught the eye as the central figure in the back three with the promise of much, much more to come from the 22-year-old, who like many of his team-mates can look forward to a summer at the World Cup.
After accepting the award from loan technical coach Eddie Newton, he expressed his regret at nearly but not quite scoring past his compatriot Jonas Lossl of Huddersfield last night, and added on the subject of the honour:
‘It is a proud moment and I want to thank my team-mates for making it easy and making me look good.’
Goal of the Season
The first honour went to Willian, for the goal voted the season’s best by Chelsea fans via this website. The poll winner was the team’s second strike in a big 4-0 win at Brighton back in January.
Willian was instrumental in a flowing team move that cut through the heart of the Seagulls' defence, with Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi much involved too, before the Brazilian smashed the ball in from the edge of the penalty area.
It is the first time the former Chelsea Player of the Year has collected this particular award, which was announced on stage by former Chelsea striker Tore Andre Flo.
‘It is easy when you have players like we have to score a goal like that,’ said Willian, ‘and for sure it was a beautiful goal.’
Chelsea Ladies Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year
The winner of both these awards came as little surprise, with the prolific Fran Kirby adding the accolades to her PFA and inaugural Footballer Writers’ awards which were announced recently.
Just 24 hours prior to tonight’s awards, Kirby scored her 24th goal of the season to help move Chelsea Ladies back to the top of the WSL1 table with three games to go, having also been on target in the Women’s FA Cup final win at the weekend. Last night she showed she is a team player too when she opted to set up Erin Cuthbert for the vital late winner at Kingsmeadow, rather than go for goal herself.
It is the first time the 24-year-old has won a Chelsea individual award. She said:
‘I could not ask for it to go any better but the main thing is the team succeeds and I am glad for the girls that we got the FA Cup, we worked so hard for it, and now we are looking to bring the title back to Chelsea.’
Academy Player of the Season
Reece James has capped a season of lifting silverware by picking up the award recognising achievement while playing for our Academy teams. The versatile defender captained our Under-18s to a record-equalling fifth consecutive triumph in the FA Youth Cup and was a regular for our development squad side, who reached the semi-finals in the senior Checkatrade Trophy.
Only one player has featured more often than the 18-year-old’s 42 appearances across the Academy teams this term, and while on the international stage he won the Under-19 Euros and the Toulon Tournament with England.
‘It has been a fantastic season,’ said James, ‘and we have been defensively very strong. It is a great feeling to wear the captain’s armband and I am glad we won.’
As well as the announcement of the awards, the event also paid tribute to those two Chelsea greats, so sadly lost to us so recently, Ray Wilkins and Roy Bentley. Members of both families were present.
There was look at the club’s work with our charity partner Plan International, and interviews with Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes and captain Katie Chapman, the latter having announced her retirement today.
- There are more photos from the evening below...