125th to reveal Player of the Year

All Whites captain Winston Reid is the current holder of the NZFMA Player of the Year award. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

The Kiwi player who has performed most successfully over the past year will be revealed on Wednesday as part of the official celebrations for New Zealand Football’s 125th Anniversary.

The New Zealand Football Media Association (NZFMA) Player of the Year award aims to honour the footballer, male or female, who has had the biggest impact at home or aboard during the 2015-16 season and this year’s finalists have now been named.

All Whites captain Winston Reid is unsurprisingly among the shortlist of four and is joined by international team mate Chris Wood while Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg and prolific striker Amber Hearn also feature.

Each has more than merited their position as a finalist after enjoying hugely memorable campaigns.

Reid helped West Ham United finish seventh in the English Premier League with a record tally of points while Wood scored four goals in three games for the All Whites at the OFC Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea and was also Leeds United’s top scorer in the second-tier Championship with 13 strikes.

Hearn was also in great form in front of goal, scoring seven times in 14 internationals, as well as notching 11 for USV Jena to finish as fourth top-scorer in the German Frauen Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, Erceg was her usual imperious self at the other end of the park, becoming the most-capped Football Ferns captain at the Rio Olympic Games and skippering Western New York Flash to a maiden National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) title.

Reid picked up the Player of the Year honour last year and previous winners include All Whites greats such as Steve Sumner, Brian Turner and Grant Turner.

The NZFMA award will be part of a historic evening on Wednesday at Auckland’s Heritage Hotel, where New Zealand Football is set to mark the 125th year of its existence.

Held in conjunction with the New Zealand Football Foundation, independent supporters group Friends of Football and the NZFMA, it will be a night of nostalgia and provides the chance to reflect on a proud heritage, while also looking ahead to the milestones to come.

A host of notable names from the country’s footballing past and present will be in attendance, including many All Whites and Football Ferns legends, as well as current players from both senior national teams.

New Zealand Football President Deryck Shaw is looking forward to what is sure to be a special and unique occasion.

“It’s not often that so many legends and important figures of the game in the country come together in one room and it will be an amazing experience for all involved,” he says.

“The journey of how we got to this point is a remarkable one and well worthy of recognition as we celebrate the 125th year of organised football in New Zealand.”

A highlight of the night will the chance to reflect on New Zealand’s most memorable footballing moments, which includes both on-field triumphs and administrative milestones. A total of 20 moments have been selected and will be revealed over the next two days in the build-up to the anniversary celebrations.

Also being staged as part of the function on Wednesday are the NZFMA Awards, which serve to recognise the talents of the country’s journalists, broadcasters, photographers and some club volunteers. Categories include Programme of the Year, Publication of the Year, Writer of the Year and Photographer of the Year.

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