Kewell Wins Third Oceania Player Of The Year Award
Socceroo and Liverpool striker Harry Kewell has scored a runaway victory to win his third Oceania Player of the Year award. Kewell totalled 76 votes for the 2003 with fellow Australian Mark Viduka second on 29 votes and New Zealand's Ryan Nelsen polling 22 for third in today's announcement by the Oceania Football Confederation.
OFC Release: Socceroo and Liverpool striker Harry Kewell (pictured right) has scored a runaway victory to win his third Oceania Player of the Year award. Kewell totalled 76 votes for the 2003 with fellow Australian Mark Viduka second on 29 votes and New Zealand's Ryan Nelsen polling 22 for third in today's announcement by the Oceania Football Confederation. The talented young Australian, who said he was `over the moon' about the award, also equalled the record of three Oceania wins by former New Zealand international Wynton Rufer.
And he refuted claims he would not play for the Socceroos, confirming his previous statements that he would always be available to play in important games for Australia.
"I've told (national coach) Frank Farina that if fit and well, I will be there for him and that includes the Oceania World Cup qualifying series this year," Kewell said.
"And stories I would rather play for Liverpool than Australia are totally wrong. I was asked what I would like with Liverpool and said to win a premiership. Australia and the World Cup were never mentioned in the question." Farina, the inaugural award winner in 1988, was full of praise for the achievements by Kewell in such a short space of time.
"He deserves the win and is arguably the best player we've ever produced. He could go on to win a lot more," he said. Rufer, who was voted the Oceania Footballer of the Century, won the award in 1989, 1990 and 1992, finished runner-up in 1993 and 1994 and third in 1988 and 1991. Kewell was third at his first appearance in 1998 and has since posted two seconds and three wins.
"I'm proud to equal Wynton's record and would like to thank the people who voted for me. I will also try my best to break it and hope to produce enough good football to keep them voting for me," he said.
"My trophy cabinet is getting big from the Australian side but I need to do something in England to match it.
"I'm absolutely loving it at Liverpool and although the results are not going well, we just need a little luck. The move from Leeds has worked out well and I can only go forward." Viduka, who won the OFC award in 2000, had an interrupted year with the embattled Leeds in the English Premier League. He has been a prolific goal scorer for Leeds at club level but only broke his goal drought for the Socceroos against the Republic or Ireland in Dublin last year stepping up in the absence of Kewell. Nelsen was probably the best performed New Zealand player in 2003 leading the All Whites against Iran in the AFC/OFC Challenge Cup match in Tehran in October. He earned good reviews at the Confederations Cup and scored a stunning goal that helped New Zealand to draw against Scotland. Multi-skilled and playing well for both club and country, there was no surprise when he was named recently as New Zealand's International Player of the Year. The full votes for the 2003 OFC Player of the Year (those players receiving three votes or more) are attached. For more information, please contact award coordinators: 2003 OFC Player of the Year - Voting Results (players to get three votes or more) Harry Kewell (Australia) 76 Mark Viduka (Australia) 29 Ryan Nelsen (New Zealand) 22 Vince Grella (Australia) 19 Zeljko Kalac (Australia) 19 Esala Masi (Fiji) 12 Marama Vahirua (Tahiti) 8 Henry Fa'arodo (Solomon Islands) 8 Reginald Davani (PNG) 6 Veresa Toma (Fiji) 5 Richard Daniel (PNG) 4 Marco Bresciano (Australia) 4 Graham Demas (Vanuatu) 3 Jean-Marc Case (New Caledonia) 3 Ipeni Fonua (Tonga) 3 Commins Menapi (Solomon Islands) 3 Raf De Gregorio (New Zealand) 3