North East Football Writers’ Association: Defoe and Pickford win prestigious awards

Jermain Defoe is the North East Football Writers’ Association’s 2016 footballer of the year.


His Sunderland team-mate Jordan Pickford is Young Player of the Year.


The third award of the year for Women’s player of the year, goes to England and Manchester City captain Stephanie Houghton.


Defoe said: “I feel very much at home in the North East, so to win this award is a real honour. The fans here are very knowledgeable and so passionate - football is their life and that makes it a great place for any player to play football.

“I would like to thank the North East Football Writers for voting for me and the Sunderland fans for their amazing support, they have been behind me from day one and I dedicate this award to them. Sunderland is a very special football club that I know will be part of me forever”.


Defoe becomes the 37th winner of the North East writers’ award, and follows former Sunderland strikers Darren Bent, Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and Marco Gabbiadini.


He was the unanimous winner, beating Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, who was second, followed by Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles in third.


The former Spurs and West Ham striker has scored 19 goals in the calendar year, keeping Sunderland in the Premier League last season, and with a hope of avoiding the drop again this season.


The 34-year-old has also hit the landmarks of 150 Premier League goals and 250 goals in English football in recent weeks.


Pickford, who started the year with an impressive loan spell at Preston North End, was recalled by Sam Allardyce at the end of last season and made his debut at Spurs.


The England Under 21 international has established himself as Sunderland Number One under David Moyes with a string of impressive performances this season.


Pickford said: “To play for the club you support is every player's dream and I am living mine every day.  

“I would like to say thank you to the Sunderland Academy staff who started me on my journey, to the backroom staff and everyone at the club who has helped me in my career so far and to my family - without their support and encouragement I wouldn’t have the fantastic opportunities that I have today”.


The two players will be presented with their awards at the Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham on Sunday, February 12.


Other presentations on the night will include Women’s player of the year Stephanie Houghton, promoted Middlesbrough, Darlington and Spennymoor and FA Vase winners Morpeth Town.


The night, which raises funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will also feature a tribute to former chairman Bob Cass who died recently after a battle against cancer.

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