Mohamed Salah expressed his pride after a sensational debut season at Liverpool saw him named Player of the Year by the Professional Football Association (PFA).
Salah has enjoyed a remarkable campaign since arriving at Anfield from Roma for 52 million dollars last summer, scoring 41 goals in 46 games in all competitions so far and breaking a succession of Premier League and club records.
The 25-year-old was named Player of the Year at the 45th PFA Awards at Grosvenor House in central London on Sunday evening, having edged Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne to the award.
And Salah - who becomes the seventh Liverpool player to claim the PFA award - was delighted his efforts were recognised by his fellow professionals.
“It’s a big honour,” said Salah at the ceremony, where he was accompanied by Reds skipper Jordan Henderson. “I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it.
When asked what it meant to become the first Egyptian to win the award, he said: “Hopefully I’m not the last one! I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”
His strike in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was his 31st Premier League goal of the campaign, tying the record for the 38-game season shared by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.
“You’re comparing your name with some great names,” he said, on the prospect of breaking the record. “To break the Premier League record is something huge in England and all over in the world.
“There are still three games to go. I want to break this record and also break the one for (42-game season). Let’s see what will happen.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, in a video message to Salah, said: “Please grab the trophy and come home. We play on Tuesday!”
Manchester City duo Leroy Sane, who was crowned PFA Young Player of the Year, and David Silva were also on the main six-man shortlist, with Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane completing the nominees.
Salah is the first Liverpool player to win the award since Suarez in 2014. Previous Reds winners were Steven Gerrard (2006), John Barnes (1988), Ian Rush (1984), Kenny Dalglish (1983) and Terry McDermott (1980).
Suarez also won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award in 2014, and Salah is hot favourite to complete a similar double with voting closing on May 1 - the day before the second leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against Salah’s former club Roma.