Taylor salutes nominees
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has paid tribute to the six footballers in the running for the Player of the Year prize. Premier League leaders Manchester United dominate the shortlist, with Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Edwin van der Sar all recognised for excellent campaigns. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is the other name in the frame and Taylor is happy with the players that have been picked by their fellow professionals. Speaking about Gerrard, he told Sky Sports News: "Stevie G has put his imprint on so many games, particularly when Liverpool have looked down and out. "He has been a real 'Roy of the Rovers' player in that role he has. "Liverpool have a heart and soul that is particularly special and the very fact that he was such a supporter of the club from the terraces is indicative of his loyalty and it is quite right that he should be revered by the supporters." Taylor feels Manchester United's success has been based on a solid defensive foundation and he believes the partnership between Ferdinand and Vidic has been key. Commenting on Ferdinand, Taylor said: "When I think how many do fall by the wayside with very promising careers, he has really fulfilled it and done that despite the problems he has had. "You talk about strikers working together, it is the same with centre-backs, and the two together have a really good understanding. "When Vidic came through he looked strong and brave but he looked quite raw, he was a real rough diamond. "That diamond has become very polished and he has become one of the very finest defenders in the world. "The partnership with Rio has been the bedrock of their defensive record." Goalkeeper Van der Sar set a record for minutes without conceding a league goal earlier this season and Taylor has been impressed by his consistency. "It is quite remarkable really. To have such a record of clean sheets was absolutely fabulous," he said. "He is calm, he is cool and he is composed. He has been one of the best ever goalkeepers we have seen." Taylor has also been amazed by the longevity of 35-year-old Welshman Giggs, saying: "He has sort of defied the passage of time and like good wine he has got even better. "His quality, calmness and assurance has been acknowledged by Sir Alex and he has appeared quite regularly considering his age." Ronaldo won the award last season and has enjoyed another fine season after United fought off interest from Real Madrid over the summer. Taylor added: "At times what he does with the ball is quite literally magic. Sir Alex wanted him to stay and he has been proved right because Manchester United will give him much greater opportunity of success than Real Madrid. He is top quality."
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