LONDON Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was named the English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) player of the year on Sunday after scoring 27 league goals to revive his club's season.
The Dutch international, 28, tops the Premier League scoring charts and Arsenal's third spot with three matches to go after a poor start to the campaign is in large part down to his stunning contribution.
"If other people are saying it, it is special, but it is even more special if your opponents are saying it," the skilful Van Persie told a gala in London.
"If they make up their minds that I'm the best player it is a big honour."
Without their captain, Arsenal could be languishing in mid-table and fans will shudder at the thought of who would score their goals if injury struck or he was tempted away in the search of trophies.
The London side have won just the 2005 FA Cup since he joined from Feyenoord in 2004.
Van Persie is the third Dutchman to win the award after Dennis Bergkamp (1997-98) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (2001-02). He was the first Arsenal player to claim it since Thierry Henry in 2004.
WALKER YOUNG PLAYER
Far more clinical this season than ever before after becoming the main centre forward, he acknowledged having doubts about the position after previously displaying his flair as a second striker.
"To be fair, when I first went there I wasn't really as confident and I wasn't really sure I could do it," added Van Persie, also favourite to win the English Football Writers' player of the year award later this week.
"It took a bit of time but after a couple of months I slowly realised I could do a good job there."
He took the players' gong ahead of fellow nominees Wayne Rooney of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur's Scott Parker and Manchester City trio Joe Hart, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale won last season's award.
Spurs full back Kyle Walker was named young player of the year after shining at right back for his club and forcing himself into contention for England's Euro 2012 squad.
The PFA's Premier League team of the year was as follows:
Joe Hart (Manchester City); Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Vincent Kompany (City), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Leighton Baines (Everton); David Silva (City), Yaya Toure (City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Gareth Bale (Tottenham); Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).
(Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Ed Osmond)
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