Gerrard elated by writers' award
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has said it is a "great privilege" to be named the 2009 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
The 28-year-old England midfielder pipped Manchester United duo Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney in the poll voted for by journalists.
Gerrard has scored 23 goals this season as Liverpool have been battling to land their first league title since 1990. "I'm delighted but I'm a little bit surprised," he told his club's website.
"When you look at the quality of the players there are in this league, it's a great privilege to win this kind of award.
"It's made even more special for me because I am following in the footsteps of Liverpool players like John Barnes, Steve Nicol and Kenny Dalglish who were heroes of mine.
"Then further back players like Ian Callaghan and Terry McDermott who were heroes to my dad and so many other Liverpool fans."
Gerrard will receive the award, the oldest of its type in Europe and running since 1948, at the FWA's gala dinner in London on 29 May.
"Steven's performances this season have been of the highest quality," said chairman of the FWA Steve Bates.
Under Gerrard's captaincy, Liverpool have pushed Manchester United all the way this season for the Premier League crown - and the title may go down to the final round of matches on 24 May.
Bates added: "His drive and desire have underpinned Liverpool's Premier League title challenge and ensured a tight finish to the season.
"Steven is clearly in his prime and quite rightly rated one of the finest midfield players of his generation and the FWA are delighted to honour his contribution to club and country."
Gerrard is the first Liverpool player to win it since Barnes in 1990, the last time the Anfield club won the top-flight title. Only forwards Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) and Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea) have hit more league goals this season than Gerrard, who has even out-scored team-mate Fernando Torres.
Second-placed Giggs was named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year in April. "I'm really pleased for Steven," said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
"It is fantastic for him because he was competing with a lot of good players.
"For him to be named player of the year is massive credit to him and shows just how much he has achieved."