Mohamed Salah takes top prizes at LFC Players’ Awards

Mohamed Salah was named Liverpool’s star man for the season as the achievements of the first team, Academy, Ladies, legends and fans were celebrated at the 2018 LFC Players’ Awards on Thursday night.

The No.11, who has so far scored 43 goals in 50 appearances since joining the club last summer, was voted Player of the Season by both the fans – in an online vote on Liverpoolfc.com – and by his teammates at Melwood.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the man who has played the most matches in the club’s history, Ian Callaghan, while the 1978 European Cup-winning Reds side were acknowledged with the Outstanding Team Achievement Award on the 40th anniversary of their triumph over FC Bruges at Wembley.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent season, which has included 11 games and two goals throughout the Reds’ run to the Champions League final, was rewarded with the Young Player of the Season accolade, and Harry Wilson claimed the Academy Player of the Season honour.

Goal of the Season – shortlisted by supporters and decided by an LFC panel – went to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the midfielder’s stunning long-range blast during the European win against Manchester City at Anfield in April.

Gemma Bonner and Sophie Ingle were presented with the Ladies Player of the Season and Ladies Players’ Player of the Season awards respectively.

And there were special accolades for the Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative, in the form of the Bill Shankly Community Award, and New South Wales as the official Supporters’ Club of the Season.

2018 LFC Players’ Awards winners

Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Players’ Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Ladies Player of the Season: Gemma Bonner
Ladies Players’ Player of the Season: Sophie Ingle
Young Player of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Academy Player of the Season: Harry Wilson
Goal of the Season: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain v Manchester City (April 4)
Bill Shankly Community Award: Fans Supporting Foodbanks
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ian Callaghan
Outstanding Team Achievement Award: 1978 European Cup-winning team
Supporters’ Club of the Season: New South Wales

Salah on course to score 35 league goals this season

At his current rate of 0.93 goals per Premier League game, Salah is on course to score 35 league goals this season. There is good reason to think that he might easily hit that target given Liverpool still have to play Bournemouth, Stoke City and Brighton at Anfield, and Crystal Palace and West Brom away from home.

Should Salah reach that figure of 35, it would be a landmark achievement. The Egyptian only needs four goals to surpass the highest ever goal total in a 38-game Premier League season, but 35 would make him the highest goalscorer in any English top-flight season since Ron Davies for Southampton in 1966/67.

A player signed as a wide forward has not just scored goals at a surprising rate, but a rate above anything we have seen in 50 years of English football.

Jurgen Klopp’s post-game summation of Salah understandably generated plenty of headlines:

“I think Mo is on the way. I don’t think Mo or anybody else wants to be compared with Lionel Messi – he is the one who has been doing what he’s been doing for what feels like 20 years or so. The last player I know who had the same influence on a team performance was Diego Maradona. But Mo is in a fantastic way, that’s for sure.”

You can’t really doubt that assessment, although Klopp knows as well as anyone that saying the M-word will inevitably lead to Messi comparisons. Salah has produced a ‘Messi season’, one in which everything he touches turns to gold and one in which at times he is simply unplayable. There is no possible defence for this.

To judge this success story, we have to look at where it came from. Salah’s fee looks remarkably cheap now, but there was a reason for it. He was a creator as much as a finisher, but also a player who was prone to inconsistency. Liverpool were not fighting off interest from dozens of other clubs.

“It’s a lot of money for Liverpool to buy a player, who, if everybody is fit, I don’t think starts,” said former Liverpool player (and now pundit) Steve Nicol, and it was hardly an outrageous suggestion at the time with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in place.

From that place of doubt, Salah has potentially made himself the best single-season goalscorer in the last 50 years of English football. Kevin de Bruyne might have been the Premier League’s best player and thus deserving of the PFA’s award, but Salah has produced the single most astonishing achievement of the season.

How Mo Salah made an eight-year-old’s shirt dream come true

Within minutes of scoring one of the great individual goals at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, Mohamed Salah made an eight-year-old fan’s dream come true.

Joseph Clarendon was sat with his mum, Angela, for Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, his first ever game at the stadium.

When he found out he would be attending the match earlier in the day, the young supporter instantly made a decision that led to an unforgettable moment with his hero.  Joe created a homemade sign reading: “Mo Salah, can I have your shirt please?”

But he could not have imagined the hopeful request would be fulfilled.  His grandfather, Jimmy McKenna, takes up the story.

“It was my 60th birthday on Sunday and I should have gone to the match as a birthday present. But we had a party on Saturday night and I was a bit worse for wear!”

“I was supposed to go with Joe’s brother but he was up with us and didn’t want to go, so my daughter took Joe.

“It is the first game he has ever been to and he did the sign himself when he found out he was going. He held the sign up for the whole 90 minutes.

“He told his mum halfway through the game that his arms were hurting him, but he just held it up higher! He loved the game and he was made up when Mo Salah scored because he’s his favourite player.”

Despite Salah’s sensational solo strike in the 91st minute to put Liverpool ahead, further late drama denied Jürgen Klopp’s team three points.

Harry Kane’s penalty with virtually the last kick of the game snatched a 2-2 draw for Spurs and left Joe with a ‘broken heart’.

His despair turned to delight in a matter of seconds, though. With the help of the supporters sat nearby him grabbing Salah’s attention, the Egyptian made a course towards the crowd before he headed back to the dressing room.

Joe’s spot in the stand was his destination, that much-desired shirt his special gift to the young Red.

“My daughter wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, she just let him make the sign,” said Jimmy.

“As Mo Salah was running over and taking his shirt off, all the fans around him were shouting, ‘you’re going to get the shirt!’ It was a good experience for him.

“We saw him afterwards and he had the shirt on over his coat. He was made up!”